Difference Between Human Geography and Physical Geography

Physical and Human Geography is the principal branches of Geographical sciences.

Physical geography is what we are more familiar with as it involves earth’s land areas, bodies of water, plant life etc. Physical geographers help in making decisions about managing different types of resources such as water, forests and land.

Human geography is more about people’s religion, culture and way of life. Human geographers aid in planning cities and the formulation of international business models.

Difference Between Physical Geography and Human Geography - UPSC Exam 2020

This article will give details about the key differences between Physical Geography and Human Geography as both are important concepts in the geography segment of the IAS Exam

Aspirants can find more Difference Between Articles, by visiting the linked page

The differences between Physical Geography and Human Geography is given in the table below                                                     

Difference Between Physical Geography and Human Geography

Physical Geography

Human Geography

Physical geography Looks at the Natural process of the Earth, such as climate and plate tectonics, wind movements etc Human geography looks at the impact and behaviour of people and their implications in the physical world
Areas of Physical Geography include:

  • Geomorphology: The shape of the structure of the Earth and how they were formed
  • Hydrology: Study of Earth’s Water
  • Glaciology: Study of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets
  • Climatology: Study of the Earth’s climate
Areas  of Human Geography include:

  • Cultural Geography: How things like religion, language and government vary across the world
  • Development Geography: Standards of living and quality of life across the world
  • Historical Geography: How people have studied and thought about geography in the past
  • Urban Geography: Cities and Built-up areas
Physical geography lays more emphasis on the ‘location’ aspect of the region it currently studies Human geography concentrates both a “location” and “people aspect as well. For example, a typical study will focus on why the Western-portion of the Indian subcontinent are populated with people of Iranic and Turkish descent

The concepts of physical geography come under the umbrella segment of Geography in the UPSC Exams, while some aspects of human geography overlap with the Art and Culture segment. The following links will help in preparing for both the sections:

Difference Between Human Geography and Physical Geography- Download PDF Here

FAQ about Physical Geography and Human Geography


What is physical geography?

It can be defined as the study of our home planet and all of its components – its lands, waters, atmosphere, and interior. Some disciplines within physical geography include geomorphology, glaciology, pedology, hydrology, climatology, biogeography, and oceanography.

What is human geography?

Human geography is the study of distribution and networks of people and cultures on Earth’s surface. The main divisions within human geography include urban geography, economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, social geography, and population geography.

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more articles and exam-related preparation materials, refer to the links given in the table below:

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