Human geography

Human geography. The study of the spatial distribution of various human phenomena (social, cultural, economic, political, or historical), of their interrelationship, and of their relation to the physical environment. The main branches of human geography are social, cultural, political, economic (see Economic geography), urban, population, transportation, and historical geography.

The human geography of Ukraine was founded as a scientific discipline by Stepan Rudnytsky. Calling his major study Osnovy zemleznannia Ukraïny, Knyha 2: Antropoheohrafiia Ukraïny (Foundations of the Earth Science of Ukraine, vol 2: Anthropogeography of Ukraine, 1926), he borrowed the title and organizing concepts from two outstanding German geographers, Carl Ritter and Friedrich Ratzel, and the French geographer Jean-Jacques Elisée Reclus, who in his Nouvelle géographie universelle (1876–94) singled out Ukraine as a major region. He also adopted some aspects of Ratzel’s environmental determinism. Rudnytsky defined Ukraine as an anthropogeograhic unit—a continuous territory inhabited by the Ukrainian nation—and justified his approach by observing that a nation’s territory (see Territory, national and ethnic) was more stable than the political borders. He defined a nation as a large group of people who identify themselves as members of a group, occupy a given territory for a long time, and share a common language, culture, tradition, and political aspirations.

Further contributions to the human geography of Ukraine were made by Volodymyr Kubijovyč and his associates, who accepted Stepan Rudnytsky’s definition of Ukraine, updated the data, and published the first atlas of Ukraine (1937), covering 66 topics and containing over 200 maps and diagrams. This effort was followed by Heohrafiia ukraïns'kykh i sumezhnykh zemel' (Geography of Ukrainian and Bordering Lands, 1943). The work not only updated Rudnytsky’s data but provided more detailed discussion by specialists of the history of Ukrainian colonization of the land (Ivan Krypiakevych), contemporary distribution of the population of Ukraine, population dynamics, nationalities in Ukraine and inter-ethnic relations (Kubijovyč), physical anthropology of Ukrainians (Rostyslav Yendyk), linguistic geography of Ukrainian language and dialects (Ivan Zilynsky), and a study of settlements (Kubijovyč, Mykola Kulytsky).

Soviet geographers, however, rejected not only environmental determinism but also anthropogeography. They divided geography into physical geography (see Physical geography of Ukraine) (where interrelations among phenomena are determined by laws of physical sciences) and economic geography (where interrelations are determined by laws of economics). Specialized fields such as population geography and urban geography were developed within economic geography. By 1982 the discipline was broadened to economic and social geography, which would incorporate all aspects of human activity in its spatial manifestations, including problems of social anthropology and human ecology.

Rudnyts'kyi, Stepan. Osnovy zemleznannia Ukraïny 2: Antropoheohrafiia Ukraïny (Uzhhorod 1926)
Kubiiovych, Volodymyr. (ed). Atlas of Ukraine and Adjoining Countries (Lviv 1937)
———. Heohrafiia ukraïns'kykh i sumezhnykh zemel' (Cracow–Lviv 1943)
Tverdokhlebov, Ivan; Shvets', A. ‘Territorial'no-khoziaistvennaia sistema kak ob"ekt izucheniia ekonomicheskoi i sotsial'noi geografii,’ Ekonomicheskaia geografiia, no. 32 (1982)
Vashchenko, Afanasii; Kuz'minskaia, E. ‘Nekotorye aspekty ekonomiko-geograficheskikh issledovanii v svete sovremennykh sotsial'nykh problem,’ Ekonomicheskaia geografiia, no. 37 (1985)

Ihor Stebelsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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