Caribbean Studies. Essay on Caribbean Region

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Juan Pablo                                      Caribbean Studies                                                     9/2/12

                                                      Essay on Caribbean Region

Geography (from Greek γεωγραφία - geographia) is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276-194 BC). A great amount of knowledge has been accumulating towards the science of geography. Such knowledge embraces five major themes: location, place, human-environment interactions, movement, and region. The idea of location has always been central to the subject of geography. In the ancient world, for example, it was the task of the geographers to fix the boundaries of land divisions and to draw maps of emerging empires. In the late Middle Ages and beyond, exploration -- that is, the discovery of locations and the recording of their characteristics -- was regarded as a major function of the geographer. This type of geography, although concerned with location, was very descriptive: simply the recording of the locations of places in terms of longitude and latitude and some of the characteristics of the place in terms of, for example, population size. Some of the Victorian geography textbooks, in fact, were, little more than detailed gazetteers listing the major towns of Britain, the rivers on which they were situated, their populations and major manufactures, and the railroads running through them. Just as history was a list of dates, so geography was a list of places or locations.

As society's problem of adapting to the physical and social environment became more complex, however, it was realized that each of the subjects of the standard educational curriculum could be addressed to a set of real world problems; and if it decided to respond to the challenge, a subject could develop analytically so that it would be capable of solving problems. Geography has recently decided to respond with rigor to this challenge. In brief, geography is interested at the locations of different items at different places on the earth's surface and in explaining why things are located where they are. More specifically, the human geographer is interested in the locations of items which have been placed by human agency whether it is humanity itself or the acts of humanity such as railroads, towns, stores, offices, factories, fields, and fences.

From the vast information presented in the first two paragraphs we can move to other concepts in geography. Let us consider geographical locations. The terms location and place in geography are used to identify a point or an area on the Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term 'location' generally implies a higher degree of certainty than "place" which often has an ambiguous boundary relying more on human/social attributes of place identity and sense of place than on geometry. Location can be described in two different ways: 1. Absolute location, a location as described by its latitude and longitude on the Earth. For example, the coordinates of Albany, New York is 42°399.34N 73°4526.33W and 2. Relative location, a location as described by where it is compared to something else. For example, Albany, New York is roughly 150 miles east of New York City. Place is the description of what it is like to live in a certain place. Examples are government types, climate, diet, etc.

Another concept in geography which can be considered is the word territory. Territory refers to the land and waters that are under the jurisdiction of a government. A country is considered a territory and is commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. This definition includes all sovereign states, but doesn't exclude autonomous dependencies of sovereign states and unrecognized de facto states. Sub-divisions of a territory or a country may well be called sub-territories. Some countries consider certain internal divisions to be territories (such as Canada's three territories of Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon Territory or Australia's Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory). Likewise, while Washington D.C. is not a state and effectively a territory, it is not an external territory and thus not counted as such. Another definition of territory usually is found in conjunction with the word "disputed" or "occupied." Disputed territories and occupied territories refer to places where the jurisdiction of the place (which country owns the land) is not clear. A territory under sovereignty of another country without being considered (completely) part of that country is called a dependency and a neutral territory is a territory that is not an integral part of any country, for example Antarctica.

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The criteria for a place being considered a territory are fairly simple, especially when compared to those of an independent country. A territory is simply an external piece of land claimed to be a subordinate location (in regards to the main country) that is not claimed by another country. If there is another claim, then the territory can be considered a disputed territory. A territory will typically rely on its "mother country" for defense, police protection, courts, social services, economic controls and support, migration and import/export controls, and other features of an independent country. With fourteen territories, the United States ...

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