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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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Carabane
Carabane is an island and a village located in the extreme south-west of Senegal, in the mouth of the Casamance River. The earliest known inhabitants of the island were the Jola people, the ethnic group which is still the most populous on the island. On January 22, 1836, the island was ceded to France by the village leader of Kagnout in return for an annual payment of 196 francs. In 1869, Carabane became autonomous, but it merged with Sédhiou in 1886. Since World War II, the population of the island has gradually declined for a variety of reasons including periods of drought, the Casamance Conflict and, more recently, the sinking of the Joola in 2002. Because the Joola was the primary means of travel to and from Carabane, much of the village's ability to trade and receive tourists has been lost. Although Carabane was once a regional capital, the village has since become so politically isolated from the rest of the country that it no longer fits into any category of the administrative structure decreed by the Senegalese government. Although there have been attempts to cultivate a tourism industry on the island, the inhabitants have been reluctant to participate.

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Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía

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Stevens Arch

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Featured biography

Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan, and lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25–220) of China. After beginning his career as a minor civil servant, he eventually became Chief Astronomer, Prefect of the Majors for Official Carriages, and then Palace Attendant at the imperial court. His uncompromising stances on certain historical and calendrical issues led to Zhang being considered a controversial figure, which prevented him from becoming an official court historian. Zhang applied his extensive knowledge of mechanics and gears in several of his inventions. He invented the world's first water-powered armillary sphere, to represent astronomical observation; improved the inflow water clock by adding another tank; and invented the world's first seismometer, which discerned the cardinal direction of an earthquake 500 km (310 mi) away. Furthermore, he improved previous Chinese calculations of the formula for pi. His fu (rhapsody) and shi poetry were renowned and commented on by later Chinese writers. Zhang received many posthumous honors for his scholarship and ingenuity, and is considered a polymath by some scholars.

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Makhtesh Ramon
Credit: Andrew Shiva

Aerial view of Makhtesh Ramon, a type of crater unique to the Negev desert in Israel and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

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Andrew Scott Waugh
Andrew Scott Waugh, Report on Mounts Everest and Deodanga (1858)

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