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Introduction

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.

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.

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Antarctica is the continent at the extreme southern latitudes of the Earth, containing the South Pole. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains. On average, it is the coldest, driest, windiest, and highest of all the continents. Although it is 98% covered in ice, because there is little precipitation, the entire continent is technically a desert and is thus the largest desert in the world. Cold-adapted plants and animals, including penguins, fur seals, mosses, lichens, and many types of algae live on the continent. Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") go back to antiquity, the first sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1821 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. Antarctica is not under the political sovereignty of any nation, although seven countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom) maintain territorial claims, which are not recognized by other countries. Human activity on the continent is regulated by the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in 1959 by 12 countries and prohibits any military activity, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone.

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Amundsen's party at the South Pole, December 1911

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A rocket is launched from Gagarin's Start

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Molyneux's 1592 terrestrial globe, owned by Middle Temple
Emery Molyneux was an Elizabethan maker of globes, mathematical instruments and ordnance. His terrestrial and celestial globes, first published in 1592, were the first to be made in England and the first to be made by an Englishman. Molyneux was known as a mathematician and maker of mathematical instruments such as compasses and hourglasses. His globes were the first to be made in such a way that they were unaffected by the humidity at sea, and they came into general use on ships. He became acquainted with many prominent men of the day, including the writer Richard Hakluyt and the mathematicians Robert Hues and Edward Wright. He also knew the explorers Thomas Cavendish, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Davis. Davis probably introduced Molyneux to his own patron, the London merchant William Sanderson, who largely financed the construction of the globes. When completed, the globes were presented to Elizabeth I. Molyneux emigrated to Amsterdam with his wife in 1596 or 1597. He succeeded in interesting the States-General, the parliament of the United Provinces, in a cannon he had invented, but he died suddenly in June 1598, apparently in poverty. The globe-making industry in England died with him. Only six of his globes are believed to be still in existence.

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Mount Hood
Credit: Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory

Mount Hood, a dormant stratovolcano, reflected in the waters of Mirror Lake, Oregon, United States. At 11,249 feet (3,429 metres), Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon and the fourth-highest in the Cascade Range. It is considered an active volcano, but no major eruptive events have been catalogued since systematic record keeping began in the 1820s.

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William Shakespeare

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