What is Contemporary Geography?

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The study of Geography has always been evolving and at critical times there have always been question such as “why is geography still important?” “Is the study of geography still relevance to modern society?” “What does the stud of geography research in this present day?” “Are there still patterns to be identified and new lands and cultures to be discovered?”

The attempt to answer the above set of questions and others like it have found the basis for geography to be seen as having two sides: Historical Geography and Contemporary Geography.

A simple look at their names leads to defining Historical Geography as geography of occurrences in the past and Contemporary geography as the geography of present or current occurrences and patterns.

What is Contemporary Geography?

It evolved as a result of crisis in the field of Geography, a crisis that was termed ‘crisis of the science identity’, meaning attempts to reclassify geography as a pure science as against its theoretical nature during the classical era.

According to Puja Mondal “Contemporary geography deals with the existing patterns of spatial differentiation of phenomena”. This put simply, Contemporary geography studies social patterns in comparison to what originally exists. It studies changes in landforms, climate, culture, etc. as it occurs on a day to day basis.

The ascendance of contemporary geography ushered in the era of focused study in hitherto peripheral fields such as political geography, economic geography, mathematical geography, medical geography, etc. and it also revitalized other sub-fields like urban geography, social geography etc.

It was said to have led to the development of new technologies and tools and two very important technologies that developed here are Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). GIS is a high performance computer system that is used to process geographic data while RS is defined as the gathering and “acquisition of data about the Earth’s surface from a satellite orbiting the Earth or from other long distance methods”.

It has been argued that contemporary geography is the geography of the present with reference to the fact that things studied in geography especially physical geography can be classified as historical because quite a number of those thing have either been destroyed completely or are already (some in the process of going) extinct.

It is important to note here that judging by these definitions both historical and contemporary geography can be said to be mutually exclusive and must understandably exist as sustaining each other. This is because contemporary geography will ultimately become historical geography as time goes by.


  1. Historical Geography versus Contemporary Geography: http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/geography/historical-geography-versus-contemporary-geography/24513/
  2. The Geography of Contemporary Geography: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/229637/geography/272869/The-geography-of-contemporary-geography
  3. Viacheslav Andreychouk: The Evolution of Geographical Environment and Contemporary Geography. Methodology of Landscape Research. Dissertations Commission of Cultural Landscape No. 9. Commission of Cultural Landscape of Polish Geographical Society, Sosnowiec, 2008.  http://krajobraz.kulturowy.us.edu.pl/publikacje.artykuly/metodologia/andreychouk.pdf
  4. James M. Rubenstein. Introduction to Contemporary Geography. January 2012: http://apgeohchs.weebly.com/uploads/3/1/0/3/3103380/rubenstein_study_guide_ch_1.pdf



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Joe Akintola
Joe Akintola is a Geographer, researcher and writer whose passion to share information is the real driving force of his career.