Geography Quotes

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A collection of geography related quotes. Do you have a favorite geography quote that you’d like to see on this list?  If so, please submit your geography quote here.

General Geography Quotes

“I looked at books, I looked at maps, I looked at atlases, I enjoyed that, but the thing that inspired me most of all was being taken from the school into the local area to look at nature, to look at the way the land looked, to understand the geography, to walk up little hills and streams and see how the ecological system worked, look at the environment.” ~ Michael Palin


“The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.”  ~ President Barack Obama, 2012 National Geographic Bee

“Everything has to do with geography” ~ Judy Martz, 22nd Governor of Montana.

“Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.” ~ Terry Pratchett, Author

“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography” ~ Ambrose Bierce

For as geography with history seemeth a carkasse without motion, so history without geography wandereth as a vagrant without certain habitation.  He who studies one without the other will understand neither.  Who despises both should live like the mole under the Earth.” ~ John Smith, 1624, “The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles

“There is no subject in the school curriculum so many-sided as Geography, and none of more practical value. It teaches history, literature, travel, business, and, indeed, every phase of the everyday life of everybody, and its teaching in the schools ought to be of that vitality which characterizes the study itself.”  ~ Melville Dozier, 1919, “Geography games; a method of teaching geography in primary grades

“Geographers never get lost. They just do accidental field work.” ~ Nicholas Chrisman, Professor of Geomatic Sciences, Université Laval

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.” ~ Gandalf to Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Map Quotes

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, 1905, “Essays in the Art of Writing”

“Mapping is fundamental to the process of lending order to the world.” ~ Robert Rundstrum, 1926

A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.” ~ Gilbert H. Grosvenor, Editor of National Geographic (1903- 1954)

A map says to you. Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not …… I am the earth in the palm of your hands” ~ Beryl Markham

“A number of astronauts, and then all of us who saw the photography from space, marveled at how much the Florida peninsula, meandering Mississippi, the islands of Britain, and the boot of Italy resembled the maps everyone had grown up with. We had taken it for granted that maps were faithful reflections of reality; but we were somehow amazed when reality turned out to be true to the maps.” ~ John Noble Wilford, The Mapmakers

“I’ve always been fascinated by maps and cartography. A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going — in a sense it’s three tenses in one.” ~ Peter Greenaway, Welsh film director in an interview for Film Comment, May/June 1990

“When our maps do not fit the territory, when we act as if our inferences are factual knowledge, we prepare ourselves for a world that isn’t there. If this happens often enough, the inevitable result is frustration and an ever-increasing tendency to warp the territory to fit our maps. We see what we want to see, and the more we see it, the more likely we are to reinforce this distorted perception, in the familiar circular and spiral feedback pattern.”Professor Harry L. Weinberg, 1959 in Levels of Knowing and Existence: Studies in General Semantics

“Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them, because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement about how to help the land.” ~ Sonoma Ecology Center

Cartography Quotes

“Impossible to map the world – we select and make graphics so that we can understand it” ~ Roger Tomlinsonnote on an agenda, 1981.

“The drawing of a parallel between cartography and architecture is instructive. Each lies in the field of the practical arts; each is older than history; and each, since its beginnings, has been more or less under the control of its consumers.” Arthur H. Robinson, The Look of Maps

The good cartographer is both a scientist and an artist. He must have a thorough knowledge of his subject and model, the Earth…. He must have the ability to generalize intelligently and to make a right selection of the features to show. These are represented by means of lines or colors; and the effective use of lines or colors requires more than knowledge of the subject – it requires artistic judgement.~ Erwin Josephus Raisz (1893 – 1968)

“The foremost cartographers of the land have prepared this for you; it’s a map of the area that you’ll be traversing.”

[Blackadder opens it up and sees it is blank]

“They’ll be very grateful if you could just fill it in as you go along.”

~ Blackadder II, British Comedy set in Elizabethan times. From the episode called “Potato” 

“In cartography, as in medicine, art and science are inseparable. The perfect map blends art and science into an effective tool of visual communication.” ~ Dr. Keith Harries, “Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice

This article was originally written on June 15, 2021 and has since been updated.



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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.