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The Geography Portal

Geography is the science that studies the lands, the features, the inhabitants, and the phenomena of the Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Four historical traditions in geographical research are the spatial analysis of the natural and the human phenomena (geography as the study of distribution), the area studies (places and regions), the study of the human-land relationship, and research in the Earth sciences. Modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that foremost seeks to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be. Geography has been called "the world discipline" and "the bridge between the human and the physical science". Geography is divided into two main branches: human geography and physical geography.

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Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. The park's headquarters is about 26 miles (42 km) east of Holbrook along Interstate 40 (I-40), which parallels the BNSF Railway's Southern Transcon, the Puerco River, and historic U.S. Route 66, all crossing the park roughly east–west. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the park covers about 146 square miles (380 km2), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962. About 600,000 people visit the park each year and take part in activities including sightseeing, photography, hiking, and backpacking. The park's earliest human inhabitants arrived at least 8,000 years ago. By about 2,000 years ago, they were growing corn in the area and shortly thereafter building pit houses in what would become the park. Later inhabitants built above-ground dwellings called pueblos. Although a changing climate caused the last of the park's pueblos to be abandoned by about 1400 CE, more than 600 archeological sites, including petroglyphs, have been discovered in the park. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers visited the area, and by the mid-19th century a U.S. team had surveyed an east–west route through the area where the park is now located and noted the petrified wood. Later roads and a railway followed similar routes and gave rise to tourism and, before the park was protected, to large-scale removal of fossils. Theft of petrified wood remains a problem in the 21st century.

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February–March 2007 tornado outbreak

Did you know...

Ruins of Gamleborg

  • ... that Gamleborg (fortress ruins pictured) represents Bornholm's oldest defence works?
  • ... that Chao Mae Tuptim in Bangkok is a site crammed full of wooden circumcised penis statues which are said to endow good fortune and fertility on anybody coming into contact with them?
  • ... that the Bab al-Nairab neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, was originally a 13th-century gate planned by the Ayyubid ruler az-Zahir Ghazi, but built by his successor al-Aziz Muhammad?

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Featured biography

The title page of Tractatus de globis et eorum usu
Robert Hues (1553–1632) was an English mathematician and geographer who made observations of the variations of the compass off the coast of Newfoundland. He either went there on a fishing trip, or joined a 1585 voyage to Virginia arranged by Walter Raleigh and led by Richard Grenville which passed Newfoundland on the return journey to England. Between 1586 and 1588, Hues travelled with Thomas Cavendish on a circumnavigation of the globe, taking the opportunity to measure latitudes. Beginning in August 1591, Hues travelled with the Earl of Cumberland, intending to complete a circumnavigation of the globe. During the voyage, Hues made astronomical observations while in the South Atlantic, and also observed the variation of the compass there and at the Equator. Cavendish died on the journey, and Hues returned to England in 1593. In 1594, Hues published his discoveries in the Latin work Tractatus de globis et eorum usu (Treatise on Globes and their Use) which was written to explain the use of globes that had been made and published by Emery Molyneux in late 1592 or early 1593, and to encourage English sailors to use practical astronomical navigation. Hues' work subsequently went into at least 12 other printings in Dutch, English, French and Latin.



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La Défense
Credit: Photo: Dimitri Destugues

A panoramic view of the Paris business district of La Défense, which includes the cities of Puteaux, Courbevoie and Nanterre, as seen from the Tour Défense 2000. The area holds many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. With its 77.5 acres (314,000 m2), its 72 glass-and-steel slick buildings including 14 high-rises above 150 m (490 ft), its 180,000 daily workers, and 3.5 million m2 (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district.

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