How does geography influence the way we live?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Geography has an incredible influence on how we live. The buildings we build, the food we grow, the clothing we wear, and the kinds of work we do are just a few ways in which geography matters.

A settlement near an ocean must take into account tides and sandy coastlines.  To build upon the sand often means providing support many feet below the sand.  You will also see many houses on stilts in coastal area, to let the tide come in under the house as opposed to in the house.  Different kinds of materials for roofing exist, depending upon climate.  Building materials vary.  In an area in which there is a great deal of clay soil, bricks are cheaper to make, and you will see more brick houses.  In an area that has many forests, you are likely to see more frame houses.

What food we grow is based upon geography. Some terrains are ideal for rice, others for wheat.  We cannot grow mangoes or pineapples where I live, but it is ideal for tomatoes and peppers.  The terrain, the rainfall, and the seasons all dictate what gets grown.

I remember getting on a plane to go to Hawaii and handing my mother my winter coat, telling her I wouldn't need it for my trip.  There is a reason those natives in warm island cultures dress the way they do and a reason we dress the way we do in the northeastern part of the United States.  That is geography, which includes climate.

What kinds of work people do are often dependent on geography.  We cannot fish in the ocean unless we are near it.  We cannot grow wheat if we live in a swamp.  We cannot mine for coal if there are no coal seams or be sherpas if there are no mountains.  Many of us today have jobs today that can be done in most parts of the world, but geography still has a powerful impact on many.

Our various cultures are strongly influenced by geography.  And that is one reason its study remains important.

 

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