geography: Modern Geography
The modern period of geography began toward the end of the 18th cent. with the works of Alexander von Humboldt and Karl Ritter. Thenceforth two principal methods of approach to geography can be distinguished: the systematic, following Humboldt, and the regional, following Ritter. Of the national schools of geography that developed, the German and the French schools were the most influential. The German school, which dealt mainly with physical geography, developed a scientific and analytical style of writing. The French school became known for its descriptive regional monographs presented in a lucid and flowing manner; human and historical geography were its forte. Although emphasis has shifted several times between the approaches and viewpoints, their interdependence is recognized by all geographers.
Since the end of World War II, geography, like other disciplines, has experienced the explosion of knowledge brought on by the new tools of modern technology for the acquisition and manipulation of data; these include aerial photography, remote sensors (including infrared and satellite photography), and the computer (for quantitative analysis and mapping). The quantitative method of geographical research has gained much ground since the 1950s, Edward Ullman and William Garrison of the United States and Peter Haggett of Great Britain being leading exponents.
Important contributions to the advancement of geography and to the development of geographic concepts have been made by Ferdinand von Richthofen, Albrecht Penck, Friedrich Ratzel, Alfred Hettner, Karl Haushofer, and Walter Christaller in Germany; Paul Vidal de la Blache, Jean Brunhes, Conrad Malte-Brun, Elisée Reclus, and Emmanuel de Martonne in France; and William Morris Davis, Isaiah Bowman, Ellen Churchill Semple, Carl O. Sauer, Albert Brigham, and Richard Hartshorne in the United States. Today geography is studied by governmental agencies and in many of the world's universities. Research is stimulated by such noted geographic institutions as the Royal Geographical Society (1830, Great Britain), the American Geographical Society (1852, United States), and the Société de Geographie (1821, France).
Sections in this article:
- Modern Geography
- History of Geographic Study
- Methods and Branches
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