Systematic Vs Regional Geography Dualism Notes By NETSET CORNER

Systematic Vs Regional Geography Dualism Notes By NETSET CORNER

[2] Systematic Vs Regional Geography or General Geography Vs Regional Geography

Bernhardus Varenius introduced the dualism of general (Universal) geography and special (particular) geography, which led to the development of systematic and regional geography. Thus, Varenius was the first scholar who laid the foundation of the dichotomy of systematic vs. regional geography. Alexander Von Humboldt made difference between systematic and regional geography.

Systematic Geography

The systematic geography approach is the same of general geography. This approach was introduced by Alexander von Humboldt, a German geographer.

It deals with one or a few aspects of the human environment or the human population and study their varying performance in the world or over a predefined geographical space. It deals with whole world as a unit.

It is concerned with the formulation of general laws, principles and generic concepts. It is essentially analytical.

For example, the study of patterns of distribution of temperature, rainfall, vegetation, minerals and crops at the world level or continent wise is case of systematic geography.

Supporter: Alexander Von Humboldt Koppen, Whittlesey, Stump, Candolle, Penck- all belonged to school of systematic geography.

Regional Geography

This approach was developed by another German geographer and a contemporary of Humboldt, Karl Ritter.

The approach of regional geography seeks to understand the unique character of an area as produced by the interaction of human activities and the physical environment.

It is the study of the geography of regions. It deals with description of individual countries and world regions. It is necessarily synthetic and deals with unique situations and their peculiarities.

For example, study of landforms climatic variables, soils, vegetation, minerals, fauna and flora and superimposition of these physical factors on the cultural landscape or on any of the elements of socio-cultural aspect highlights the peculiarities of a region and is a case of regional geography.

Richard Hartshorne in his book ‘Nature of Geography’ declared that the essence of geography is regional geography. Ritter too believed in the centrality of regional geography and studied areas synthetically i.e. in their totality.

Richthofen also emphasised that regional geography must be descriptive to highlight the salient features of a region. Alfred Hettner and Vidal de la Blache too claimed that geography is regional.

Supporter: Karl Ritter, Richard Hartshorne, Richthofen, Alfred Hettner, Vidal de la Blache all belonged to school of regional geography.


The dichotomy of systematic versus regional geography seems to be quite logical. Systematic geography emphasises on universal laws while regional geography emphasises on individual laws of region. However, the emphasis on any one of them is wrong.

They do not oppose but support each other in the final analysis as the subject matter of geography. In the words of Berry “the regional and systematic geography are not different approaches, but are just the two extremes of a continuum.”

Anuchin the soviet geographer, summarized controversy by saying that systematic geography cannot exist without regional geography and regional geography cannot be survived without systematic geography. In brief, dichotomy of systematic vs regional falls and they are complementary to each other.


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