Written by Linda Weems
The world is a big place. The total land surface area of our planet works out to about 57,308,738 square miles! And that’s not even counting the bodies of water like oceans and lakes that make up 71% of Earth’s surface. With so much to see and explore on Earth, someone has to study and document it all. This area of study is what’s known as geography. There are two types of geography: physical and human. Each one deals with the study of the planet’s surface, but they approach the subject in different ways.
Physical geography looks at the natural formations across the globe and the environmental events that helped shape them. Have you ever wondered how Mount Everest came to be a 29,029-foot-tall pile of rock? Maybe you’re curious what happens after a volcano erupts or what made that happen in the first place. All of these are considered the study of physical geography.
The world consists of seven large land masses known as continents. These continents are Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. But did you know that all seven of these continents used to be just one giant piece of land? It existed somewhere between 280 million and 230 million years ago and is now referred to as Pangaea. The concept of Pangaea was figured out in 1912 by Alfred Wegener when he realized that all of the continents seemed like they could fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Fast-forward to today, and humans have spread out and developed cities and countries all across every continent except for Antarctica. As great as it might be to wake up to a penguin in your front yard, it gets too cold there for many humans to want to live there year-round. The lowest temperature ever recorded there is -89.6°C, or -193.28°F!
The study of people’s migration and colonization all over the globe and the impact it has had on Earth’s surface is known as human geography. Currently in the world, there are around 200 countries, all with their own borders, cities, and towns. Examining how these borders were created and the impact they have had on our world is just one example of how the study of human geography is used.
You may be thinking that this far into humanity’s existence, surely, everything on Earth has already been explored, so there’s not much need to study geography. But the truth is that the world is always changing. National borders can be moved or erased, and even the land itself can change: The ground we walk on rests on top of giant sheets of rock known as tectonic plates that are constantly sliding and moving, and when these plates collide, they can cause earthquakes and potentially drastic changes to the surface of our planet.
What kind of job could you have someday if you study geography? Some people become cartographers. Cartographers are people who spend their lives making maps. This often requires a lot of fieldwork, so you might get to live your life in the great outdoors. Other people who earn an online degree in geography might become environmental consultants who help make sure that our planet stays healthy for generations to come.
- Continents of the World: Read an overview of each of the continents and all of the countries they include.
- North America Geographic Regions: Check out this presentation on the most prominent geographical features of North America.
- South America Interactive Map: This fun interactive map of South America shows the physical and political geography of the continent.
- Europe’s Physical Features: Watch this short video to learn about the most famous geographical features of Europe.
- How Well Do You Know Your African Geography? Take a fun interactive quiz to find out how much you know about the geography of Africa!
- Australian Cities Geography Game: How many Australian cities can you name? Find out with this fun online game.
- Antarctica’s Oceans, Atmosphere, and Landscape: This page contains tons of fun facts about Antarctica, including its climate, land, sea, and glaciers.
- National Geographic: Asian Geography: Learn about the biggest continent there is, Asia, on this page that’s packed with tons of great information.
United State Geography
- Name That State Game: See how many states you can name in this game, which has easy, medium, and hard settings.
- Place the States Game: Drag and place all 50 states on a map with or without the help of the states’ borders.
- Name the 50 States: You have five minutes to name as many states as you can. Ready, set, go!
- Student State Facts: Click on any state in the U.S. to find out fun facts about it.
- NatGeoKids: USA Facts: Learn all you can about the United States from this page, including a great in-depth section on the country’s geography.
- U.S. Map Quiz: Can you name the highlighted state in this multiple-choice quiz?
- Alaska Geography: Learn all about the glaciers, earthquakes, and volcanoes of Alaska.
- Interactive Map of U.S. Streams and Rivers: Track all of the streams and rivers of the U.S. on this interactive map from the American Geosciences Institute.
- What Are the Parts of a Map? Read this to learn about the different parts of a map, then try the worksheets at the end to test what you know.
- Old Maps Online: Browse more than 400,000 maps of the world throughout history.
- Interactive Map of the United States: Watch how the U.S. expanded westward with this fun interactive map.
- Latitude, Longitude, and Time Zones: This video explains the lines of latitude and longitude and how they are used.
- Mapping America: Find out statistics on each state with this interactive map of America.
- Why Children Still Need to Read (and Draw) Maps: Why are maps so important? Find out on this page filled with great lessons and activities.
- Map-Making Crafts for Kids: Become a real cartographer by making your own maps!
Careers in Geography
- Careers in Geography: Explore what jobs can open up to you when you decided to study geography.
- Geoscience Careers Brochure: Find out about the world of careers in the geosciences.
- Careers in Cartography: Discover why mapping out a career in cartography is great idea!
- Jobs and Careers in Geography: Learn how you can be a professional geographer.
General Geography Resources
- Where Is That? Play this fun game to test what you know about states, countries, and capitals.
- U.S. States and Capitals Map Puzzle: Choose how hard you want this challenge to be, then see if you can put the places in the right spots on the map.
- Fun Facts About Our World: Find out all sorts of cool facts about Earth and the things that happen to it every day.
- Geography and the Seasons: Where on the planet you live determines when summer and winter happen.
- Fun Facts About Geography Podcast: Listen to this podcast to find out all sorts of things about different places all over the world!
- Geography of Central America and the Caribbean: Learn about the countries between the United States and South America here.
- GeoPuzzle Geographical Game of the World: Piece the world together just like a puzzle in this fun interactive game.
- Fun Geography Activities for Kids: Learning about geography doesn’t have to mean looking at a map. Try creating your own country, playing board games, or making a new recipe to learn more about the world.
- See the Sea: Dive deep into these facts about the world’s oceans.