The way in which humans have come to live together and the way in which they relate to other communities have been shaped by many factors but the geography and climate are perhaps two of the most important. Climate and geography have affected aspects of human society such as the development of technology, which people hold the most power and where communities even exist.
Birth of Farming
The birth of farming was a huge step in the development of mankind, and was a result of both the lay of the land and the impact of climate change. Some 12,000 years ago, Earth was recovering from an Ice Age and the temperatures rose, leading to many herd animals such as pigs and goats breeding in large numbers in parts of the world, including the Americas.New plants, such as wheat, also grew in these warmer climes. The humans in these places not only ate these animals but learnt to cultivate both flora and fauna, essentially becoming the first farmers.
Geographic location took on a new importance in the 15th century and beyond, propelling forward nations such as Spain and Portugal, and later the Netherlands and Great Britain, in terms of their influence on the world. This change came about with the advent of the seafaring age of exploration, as nations made conquests in the African and American continents.
For example, Portugal claimed much of the west coast of Africa and with Spain virtually divided up South America. Both made gains in terms of slaves and gold, making the country wealthier. Later, Great Britain and The Netherlands carved out worldwide empires thanks to their particular geographic location, which gave them influence in terms of trading opportunities and warfare.
The politics of human societies have often been shaped by the geographic locations communities settle in. For example, the societies of two cities which share a border may be heavily influenced by their relations with their neighbors; if the border is disputed, this can lead to conflict, while such close proximity might instead result in trade. The positioning of cities is also highly dependent on geography. City planners have throughout history looked to geographic locations to provide defenses against siege and allow better access for trading vessels.
Leads to Migrations
Climate has affected where humans choose to live throughout history. Not only is a certain climate needed to grow crops but changes in climate influence human migrations. For example, the Science Daily website suggests that altering temperatures may have played a part in the outbreak of diseases such as the Black Death in the Middle Ages, which caused death on a massive scale and led to settlement abandonment and the widespread migration of communities.
- History Today; Latitudes not Attitudes: How Geography Explains History; Ian Morris
- Rolo: Why is Geography Important
- Science Daily; New Evidence for Climate Impacts on Ancient Societies; January 14, 2011
- "The Iberian Golden Age, European Expansion: Exploration And Colonization, 1400-1650"; Allen Pikerman; 2002
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