Branches of Geography (Systematic and Regional Geography)

Geography is a discipline which studies the earth’s surface from two perpectives; systematic and regional. us, geog raphy may be studied either as systematic geography or as regional geography.

Systematic Geography

In systematic geography, we select one geographical factor and study its distribution for the whole world or a part thereof. Our attention is concentrated on a particular geographical factor. Relief, drainage, climate, vegetation, soil, mineral wealth, agriculture, industry, transport, trade and commerce and population are some of the important geographical elements. ese elements are studied separately with reference to a particular area. s area could be a country, a continent or the whole world. s method of studying geography is also known as ‘topical approach’ because dierent topics or element complex is our main concern. e best way to study systematic geography is to consider the variations on the surface of the earth with reference to a particular geographical element. Some geographers call it General Geography also. e main advantage of systematic geography is that some elements are selected in their total reality and concentration is focussed on the distribution and analysis of these elements.

Regional Geography

Regional geography considers the area as a whole first and aims at identifying those geographical factors or components which in their unison create the distinct character of the region. The geographical conditions are not the same everywhere. The areal differentiations are so sharp that no two regions are the same. Regional geography helps us in identifying the region. For intense study, larger regions are further divided into smaller regions. For example, if we take Ganga Plain, Chhotanagpur Plateau or Assam Valley, rather than taking whole of India, and study their location relief, drainage, climate, soils, vegetation, mineral wealth, agriculture, industry, transport, trade, population, etc. it will be termed as regional geography. Thus, in regional geography, the main emphasis is on the region.

Branches of Geography Based on Systematic Approach

Although, there can be as many branches of systematic geography as the phenomena studied, yet systematic geography is normally divided into following three main branches:

  • Physical Geography
  • Human Geography or Cultural Geography
  • Biogeography

Physical Geography

Following are four main braches of physical geography:

  1. Geomorphology
  2. Climatology
  3. Hydrology
  4. Soil Geography


Deed in simple terms, geomorphology is the study of the conguration of the earth’s sur face. As such geomorphology is a very signiant branch of physical geography. It is the eld of study in which the for m of the earth’s surface is examined. Studies of the congur ation of the earth deal with the continents, great mountains systems, the broad plains, and with slopes of hills and valleys. As such geomorphology is concerned with the classicat ion, measurement and description of landforms, and with the history of the processes that have produced them. Keeping in view the subject matter of geomorphology it can be emphasised that this branch of physical geography is closest to geology


It is concerned with atmosphere and involves the systematic study of climate and its constituent elements like temperature, rainfall, atmospheric pressure, winds, storms etc. and their areal distribution over the globe.


Oceanography is the science of the sea which embraces primarily the study of the form and nature of the oceanic basins, the characteristics of the waters in these basins and the movements to which these waters are subjected to.

Soil Geography

It is branch of geography is concerned with the formation of soils, their types and their areal distribution.

Human Geography

Human geography is concerned with the study of cultural or man made features such as houses, villages, towns, cities, railways, roads, bridges etc. Human geography is a vast subject and has the largest number of branches.

Some of the important branches of human geography are described as under:

Social/Cultural Geography

It is concerned with the study of society and its spatial dynamics. It also studies the cultural elements contributed by the society.

Population and Settlement Geography

Population geography studies various aspects of population such as its growth, distribution, density, literacy, sex ratio, caste groups, religious composition, migration patterns, occupational structure etc. Settlement geography studies the characteristics of settlements (both urban and rural). e major char acteristics of settlements are their distribution, growth, morphology, etc.

Historical Geography

It studies the historical development of a region. Every region has to undergo certain historical experiences before it attains its present status. Most of the geographical features experience changes with the passage of time and these form the concerns of historical geography.

Political Geography

As its name suggests, political geography is concerned with the political events and studies boundaries, space relations between neighbouring political units, delimitation of constituencies, election scenario etc. and develops theoretical framework to understand the political behaviour of the people.

Economic Geography

This branch of human geography is primarily concerned with the economic activities of man. ese activities are primary activities (hunting, gathering, forestry agriculture, shing, mining etc.), secondary activi ties (industry) and tertiary activities (trade, transport, tourism, infrastructure services etc.). This important branch of geography has a number of branches of its own. A few important branches of economic geography are brifely described as under:


It is the study of distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geographical time.


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