What is a Region?
A region is an area on the earth’s surface marked by certain properties that are homogeneous inside and distinct from outside it.
A region is defined as a part of the Earth’s surface with one or many similar characteristics that make it unique from other areas. Regional geography studies the specific unique characteristics of places related to their culture, economy, topography, climate, politics and environmental factors such as their different species of flora and fauna.
The properties studied are selected by the person defining the region.
Why We Geographers Use regions?
Geographers study a very wide range of issues from spatial perspective. Regions are one way to organize and simplify this vast amount of information. Even though regions are “made-up” by the geographer, they are designed in such a way that the information they provide will be useful.
Biologists do the same thing when they divide living organisms into different groups with similar characteristics to better understand the great variety of living organisms.
History and Development of Regional Geography
Regional geography has its roots in Europe; specifically with the French and geographer Paul Vidal de la Blanche. In the late 19th century, De la Blanche developed his ideas of the milieu and pays. The milieu was the natural environment and pays was the country or local region.
Regional geography began to develop in the United States specifically and parts of Europe in the period between World Wars I and II. During this time, geography was criticized for its descriptive nature with environmental determinism and lack of a specific focus. As a result, geographers were seeking ways to keep geography as a credible university-level subject. In the 1920s and 1930s, geography became a regional science concerned with why certain places are similar and/or different and what enables people to separate one region from another. This practice became known as areal differentiation.
In the U.S., Carl Sauer and his Berkeley School of geographic thought led to the development of regional geography, especially on the west coast. During this time, regional geography was also led by Richard Hartshorne who studied German regional geography in the 1930s with famous geographers such as Alfred Hettner and Fred Schaefer. Hartshorne defined geography as a science “To provide accurate, orderly, and rational description and interpretation of the variable character of the earth surface.”
For a short time during and after WWII, regional geography was a popular field of study within the discipline. However, it was later critiqued for its specifically regional knowledge and it was claimed to have been too descriptive and not quantitative enough.
The economic region was the main focus of regional research from the 1930s to the 1970s. Quite substantial results were reached in that field. During the last forty years, regional geography has ceased to appear central to most geographers. In fact, the new interest in place and territory shows a renewal in this field much more than a decline. Some geographers are, however, very critical of the regional idea.
Some Examples of Regions
Natural resource regions
Local administrative regions
Traditional or informal regions
- Culture Region
Link(s),Source(s) and Inspiration(s):
- Geography and the Humanities (rashidfaridi.wordpress.com)
- Geo-Imaginaries: Topology vs Topography (rashidfaridi.wordpress.com)
- South West Asia
Regional Studies Pages: