Economic Geography

Economic geography may be defined as the study of the distribution economic activities and their relation to their physical environment. It is directly concerned with different types of economic activities of man and with production, distribution and consumption of economic resources.

Economic Activities

All activities which lead to production, consumption and exchange of goods are called economic activities. Following are the main economic activities of man.

Primary Activities

Primary activities are those activities through which man fulfils his needs and desires by using resources which are gifted to man by nature. These activities are directly connected with nature.

Gathering, hunting and lumbering in forested areas; animal herding and cattle rearing in the grasslands; fishing in water bodies, obtaining milk, meat and hides and skins from animals, growing agricultural crops in fertile lands; and obtaining minerals from the mines are some of the outstanding examples of primary activities. Primary activities are carried on in almost all parts of the world but such activities have special significance in Asia, Africa, South America and the north polar regions. Most of the primary activities are simple and conventional and reflect primitive economic and social structure.

Secondary Activities

The occupations which produce shed goods by using the products of primary activities as raw materials are included in secondary activity. Manufacturing of cloth from cotton, sugar from sugarcane and steel from iron ore are important examples of secondary activity. Thus, all manufacturing industries are included in secondary activities.

Tertiary Activities

Tertiary activities consist of all service occupations. Such activities are also called ‘service activities’. Transport, communications, trade, health, education, administration etc. are important examples of tertiary activities. People engaged in tertiary activities do not produce anything directly but provide services to the society by dint of their efficiency and technological advancement.

Quaternary Activities

Jean Gottmann has included only direct services in the category of tertiary activities. According to him, indirect services should be treated as quaternary activities. From this point of view research, teaching, leadership, administration etc. are to be treated as quaternary activities. Thus, the occupations of scientists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, leaders, administrators, policemen, writers, artists, musicians etc. are included in quaternary activities.

Quinary Activities

Some economic geographers have identified another activity known as quinary activity. The number of people engaged in these activities is much smaller as compared to those engaged in other activities but they perform such activities which are very important for the society. They include chief executives and other top officers in government and private organizations. Researchers, legal authorities, financial advisors and professional consultants are also included in this category.

Economic Activity and Associated Collar Colour

Economic activities are designated by the colour of their collar as mentioned below

Activity Colour of the collar

  1. Primary                Red
  2. Secondary           Blue
  3. Tertiary                Pink
  4. Quaternary          White
  5. Quinary               Gold


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