Geography shapes history because it is where all history
takes place. Geography is the study of people,
environment, and their resources.
Civilizations are influenced by access to various types
of resources, by geographical features that either
protect, or isolate, and by the area in which they
live. Some of these geographical resources and
features are, rivers, mountains, oceans, irregular and
regular coast lines, and islands.
||Rivers provide fresh water for
irrigation, act as trade routes
& invasion routes, and provide fertile soil
along their valleys. Major river valleys
such as the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus,
and Yellow, all were home to early
||Mountains often act as barriers for
civilizations. This can have
a positive effect in that it protects a culture
from invasion. An example of mountains as a
barrier would be the Himalayas protecting
early India from China. They
can also have a negative effect by preventing
cultural diffusion. An example of this would
be the near isolation of the
along the Andes.
||Oceans often act as barriers for
civilizations, but can also be a source of food
and livelihood. The barrier effect has both
positive and negative aspects. A positive example
would be the Pacific Ocean was a barrier to
Korean invasion of
A negative example would be the Atlantic Ocean
prevented cultural diffusion between
and the rest of the world for centuries.
||An irregular coastline has many
natural harbors. This feature has both
positive and negative effects. An example of
a positive effect would be the British Islands
natural harbors. This feature allowed them
to develop a strong Navy, and trade
and culturally diffuse with the
world. A negative example would be North
& South America, which also has many
natural harbors. This provided easy access
for the Europeans when the began to explore, and
eventually conquer the continents.
||Regular coastlines have few to no
natural harbors. This is a barrier effect
with both positive and negative consequences.
Africa has a regular coastline. A positive
effect of this was that it was difficult to invade
Africa by sea. A negative effect was that
Sub-Saharan Africa remained isolated from
the rest of the world for many centuries.
||Islands often act as barriers to
both invasion and cultural diffusion.
Japan has been able to stay free of foreign
control though most of its history, but has
also been isolated from the world for centuries at
a time. Great Britain was able to
stay free of German control during
War II because they are an island nation.
||Rainforests often act as barriers,
but can also be a resource center. As a
barrier, they prevent invasion and cultural
diffusion. An example would be the African
rainforests. They can also be a source
of raw materials. An example would be the Amazon
Rainforests which provide hardwoods,
medicines, and other raw materials to many
countries in South America.
||Deserts often act as barriers.
An example would be the Sahara
Desert that protected lower Africa from
invasion for many centuries. But, the Sahara
also prevented cultural diffusion to this area.