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Each of the earth sciences has its own set of specialties, but it can be divided into four main categories: geography, geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Geography is a kind of bridge between the physical and social sciences. It is concerned with the distribution of people and things, the location of places on the earth's surface, and the relationships between people and their natural environment. It includes the study of topography (the overall arrangement of the land), landforms (mountains, plateaus, plains, canyons, and the like), climate, and such features of the natural environment as plants and animals, soils, minerals, and water resources. Physical geography is the study of land and water features and the natural forces responsible for their occurrence. This branch includes climatology, the study of weather conditions over an extended period of time; geomorphology, or physiography, the study of surface features and topography; and mathematical geography, concerned with the earth's size, shape, and movements. Human geography is the study of the way human beings live in their physical and cultural environments. This branch includes cultural geography, the study of the geographical distribution of cultural traits; economic geography, the study of how people make a living; political geography, the study of the influence of geography on nations, national interests, and international relations; population geography, the study of the geographical distribution of humans and the analysis of changes in distribution patterns; urban and transportation geography, the study of cities and towns in relation to their location, size, shape, and function; regional geography, the study of physical, economic, political, and cultural characteristics of regions as small as a congressional district to as large as a continent; and medical geography, the study of epidemics, health-care delivery systems, and the ways in which our environment affects health.
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