What Is the Difference Between Physical and Human Geography?

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Physical geography focuses on natural processes of the earth, including climate and plate tectonics, whereas human geography studies the effect and behavior of humans and how they relate to the physical world. The two fields of geography are interrelated.

Physical geography is concerned with the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. The lithosphere is made up of landforms near or at the surface of the earth comprised of solid and disintegrated rock and the soil cover on the surface. The hydrosphere is the section containing water in all its three states, while the atmosphere is the sphere of air around the earth.

Human geography investigates aspects of people’s way of life, such as language, religion, economic activity, government and art. The field also looks into globalization as a process by means of which cultural aspects transmit across the globe.

Geography relates behavior of man to his physical environment. This is important because physical geographical features determine the kind of activity people living around them can practice. For example, the natural environment in urban areas confines people living there to lifestyles different from those of rural dwellers. Conversely, human activities have a bearing on the physical environment. For instance, industrial carbon emissions are tied to climate change.