Some people think by mistake that the only thing that geographers do is stating where the things are. However, the reason for thinking in this way is mixing up cartography with geography and forgetting that one is just a sub-discipline of another. The truth is that geography has moved on from being a map-making activity to the academic discipline a very long time ago. Therefore, in order to understand what do geographers do it is important to see how the geography passed through all of its stages of development and expanded into two major branches – human and physical geographies.
Many academics tried to give an explanation of what the geography is ever since the science has been invented. The first person to use the word “geography” was an ancient Greek scholar Eratosthenes of Cyrene who is also considered to be it’s father. Nowadays, we would say Eratosthenes was a physical geographer as his studies were mainly dedicated to the earth physical characteristics. One of his most famous achievements in science was that he made first relatively accurate measure of the Earth size. Besides this, he measured the distance between Sun and Earth and was the creator of the first map of the world.
But looking at the past, geography was all about recording the details about the journeys of the great explorers and describing the regions they visited. The so-called Age of Discovery has begun in the early 15th century and lasted until the 17th century. People were driven by the desire to explore the unknown parts of the world and to gain the new knowledge. This has led to discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and the significant increase of knowledge due to James Cook’s voyages. These expeditions not only enabled people to learn about the landscapes and the coastlines, but they have brought the information about new species and cultures. Owing to the travellers like Prince Henry the Navigator, mapping methods have developed and enabled people to sail out of sight with the help of nautical maps (About.com 2012).
The 18th and 19th centuries are the times when geography was officially recognized as an academic discipline and became a part of a university curriculum. “Since 1945, while retaining its focus on people, places, and environments, the discipline has expanded and changed considerably” (Encylopaedia Britannica 2012). The strong links between geography and other sciences such economics, geology, botany, sociology and demographics have been established which have helped geographers to develop a number of new tools and approaches. Many geographical societies have been set up in cities like Paris, New-York, London, Berlin and St-Petersburg. The role of these societies was to publish information, sponsor expeditions and held meeting at which geographers could present their findings or take part in debates related to technical issues such as mapping. They were also strongly supported by the diplomatic and military classes (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2012).
It was also the time when geographers have put themselves into two distinctive groups. Now it was “physical geographers, who increasingly identified themselves as environmental scientists, and human geographers, whose allegiance was to the social sciences”( Encyclopaedia Britannica 2012).
Without controversy, geography as a science has developed and expanded the areas it covers a lot since then. Nowadays, it is not only restricted to the studies of the earth processes and finding where the places are but it deals with issues that have political, economic or social. It has changed from a “"declarative" (or fact finding) discipline to an intellectual one dedicated to exploring spatial science” (Directions Magazine 2012). What we call geography consists of a much more than it used to in the early days but all the people who are working in such different fields like geomorphology, climatology, development and political geography, geomatics and