Although geography is a very broad science covering many specialized fields, it is essentially a study of the Earth and its various features and inhabitants. The word "geography" is of Greek origin, literally meaning "to describe the Earth," and is believed to have been first coined by Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek scholar who lived during the third century BC.

Geography is sometimes confused with cartography, which deals with maps. But geographers look beyond the cartographer's two-dimensional world, to study the various aspects of the Earth and human interaction, and how one affects the other.

Today, geography's goals include gaining an understanding of the Earth and its natural and manmade intricacies. As a result, geography is roughly divided into two areas of study, physical geography and human geography. Physical geography concerns itself with the physical aspects of the Earth, including the atmosphere, plant and animal life patterns, the hydrosphere and more. Human geography studies how human interactions have been shaped by the Earth's numerous envirnoments, including a look at politics, economics and culture.

Technology has helped geography make numerous advances. Remote sensing-measuring information on the Earth from a distance-and Geographic Information Systems (known as GIS) have helped humans increase their knowledge of the Earth in ways that were unimaginable when Eratosthenes first said the word "geography."