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True-color image of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center image.
True-color image of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center image.
Physical map of Earth with political borders as of 2016

Geography (from Greek: γεωγραφία, geographia, literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Geography is often defined in terms of two branches: human geography and physical geography. Human geography deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across space and place. Physical geography deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere.

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Caldera Mt Tambora Sumbawa Indonesia.jpg
Mount Tambora is an active stratovolcano on Sumbawa island, Indonesia. Sumbawa is flanked both to the north and south by oceanic crust and Tambora was formed by the active subduction zones beneath it. This process raised Mount Tambora as high as 4,300 m (14,000 ft), making it one of the tallest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago, and drained off a large magma chamber inside the mountain. In 1815, Tambora erupted with a rating of seven on the Volcanic Explosivity Index; the largest eruption since the Lake Taupo eruption in AD 181. With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 km3 (38 cu mi), Tambora's 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. Heavy volcanic ash falls were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java and Maluku islands. Most deaths from the eruption were from starvation and disease, as the eruptive fallout ruined the local agriculture. The death toll was at least 71,000 people, of whom 11,000–12,000 were killed directly by the eruption. The eruption created global climate anomalies in the following years. 1816 became known as the Year Without a Summer because of the impact on North American and European weather. During an excavation in 2004, a team of archaeologists discovered a civilization obliterated by the 1815 eruption, known as the "Pompeii of the East".

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Jarabacoa

Did you know...

Ruins of Gamleborg

  • ... that Gamleborg (fortress ruins pictured) represents Bornholm's oldest defence works?
  • ... that Chao Mae Tuptim in Bangkok is a site crammed full of wooden circumcised penis statues which are said to endow good fortune and fertility on anybody coming into contact with them?
  • ... that the Bab al-Nairab neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, was originally a 13th-century gate planned by the Ayyubid ruler az-Zahir Ghazi, but built by his successor al-Aziz Muhammad?

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Featured biography

Paul Kane
Paul Kane was an Irish-Canadian painter, famous for his paintings of First Nations peoples in the Canadian West and other Native Americans in the Oregon Country. Largely self-educated, Kane grew up in Toronto (then known as York) and trained himself by copying European masters on a study trip through Europe. He undertook two voyages through the wild Canadian northwest in 1845 and from 1846 to 1848. The first trip took him from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie and back. Having secured the support of the Hudson's Bay Company, he set out on a second, much longer voyage from Toronto across the Rocky Mountains to Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria in the Oregon Country and back again. On both trips Kane sketched and painted Native Americans and documented their life, ultimately producing over 700 sketches. Upon his return to Toronto, he produced from these sketches more than one hundred oil paintings. Kane's work, particularly his field sketches, are still a valuable resource for ethnologists. The oil paintings he did in his studio are considered a part of the Canadian heritage, although he often embellished these considerably, departing from the accuracy of his field sketches in favour of more dramatic scenes.

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Bay of Kotor
Credit: Ggia

The Bay of Kotor is a winding bay on the Adriatic Sea in south-western Montenegro. It is a ria of the disintegrated Bokelj River which used to run from the high mountain plateaus of Mount Orjen. The bay has been inhabited since antiquity and has some well preserved medieval towns, making it an important tourist attraction in Montenegro.

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Christopher Hitchens

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