Man is the central point of geographical study. The branch of geography which studies the economic activities of man is called Economic Geography. Man is an active creature, so economic benefits are most important in whatever he does. Economic Geography is, therefore, a branch of Geography.
If we observe the human societies in the different areas on the surface of the earth and their customs, food, means of life, natural and cultural aspects, we notice great variety. Only ecology should not be held responsible for the creation of these diversities. On the other hand, the economic activities and cultural and technical development of the people living in a particular area affect economic and human life to a great extent. Man adjusts himself to physical environment and changes the shape of natural resources and makes the greatest use of them. In economic geography we do not study all the aspects of geography, but throw light only on the economic aspect of production.
Economic Geography deals mainly with the spatial distribution of various types of economic activities of mankind. The stress is on the location of economic activity at the local, regional, national or world scale. The economic activity as such is the subject matter of economics. Economic Geography studies about the distribution of particular economic activity, for example, fishing in a small region or world as a whole. Spatial differences in the economic activity, the products produced, exports, imports and local consumption are also examined. Having observed spatial variations in economic activities, geography seeks to explain why such spatial variations have arisen. If jute is the main crop in West Bengal, the geographer seeks to explain this fact with reference to the physical environment. If mineral based industry is the main activity in the Chota Nagpur region, the geographer links it up with the mineral resources of that region. Thus economic geography not only studies the spatial variations in economic activities but also seeks to explain such variations with reference to physical or other factors. As a result of such studies, it may be possible to arrive at certain generalizations or theories regarding spatial variation in economic activities.
From the economic point of view, all the geographical areas have been divided into the following three parts:
1. General Area. It is a general area fixed for some purpose i.e. the urban census wards, the boundary of which does not depend on natural factors.
2. Homogenous Area. These areas are similar from the economic point of view. Although their geographical shape is not the same, the stages of their economic development are similar.
3. Functional region. In fact these areas are the central point where different kinds of policies are formulated. These regions are connected with outer regions through transport and communication systems. Functional Region are classified and placed in orders on the basis of their economic work. In fact all these activities depend on economic factors alone.
In reality, the different social or political groups which we find in different parts of the earth are a creation of natural environments. The difference in geographical conditions makes all the difference in production, trade commerce and in the habits and mode of living of the man.
The primitive and savage people because of the niggardliness of the nature's gifts to the land in which they happen to live, rather than because of bad qualities which they may inherently possess. How one can expect the progress of civilization and culture in the Eskimo population living upon bleak, treeless and bitter-cold shore of the Arctic Sea? There is no disciplined economy and the use of natural resources is managed by scattered economy.
In the semi-mature economy most of the population depends on the backward methods of agriculture and the expansion and development of human colonies is not systematic and is seen here and there in sparse forms. As a result of colonisation the full development of land resources in such a society is active and man, while establishing harmony with environment, gives an orderly shape to broken or sparse human colonies. In these conditions the limits of human and economic regions are at their climax.
In the old age of economic regions, the deficiency of raw material results in the decreased of special production and the laborers and capitalists start migrating from these regions to other regions. Such instances are seen in the Pittsburgh industrial regions of North America. As long as these regions traded in iron and steel with the regions of Africa and Asia, the iron and steel industry, was at its climax here, but as a result of the fall in demand from eastern countries these regions are not so strong as they formerly were.
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