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This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on the geography of the planet.
The Earth is a dynamic planet, so no matter how large, stagnant and old landmasses and formations may appear, they’re constantly moving and changing, even if it’s very slow by our standards! This makes geography, which originates from the Greek word “geographia” meaning “earth description”, a very exciting field of study.
The Earth consists of four primary layers: the inner and outer core, deep in the center of the planet, which is squeezed under immense pressure to produce the Earth’s magnetic field; the mantle, which is thousands of miles of molten rock, and the outer crust, just 24 miles thick.
The crust is not a single piece of solid rock surrounding the liquid mantle, but consists of 12 large, “floating” and active tectonic plates that push up against one another, slide past each other, can be pushed under or over a larger, heavier one, or even pulled apart.
Have you ever looked at a modern-day map and wondered why South America’s eastern coastline appears to mirror Africa’s western coastline? That’s because millions of years ago they were joined together and tectonic forces separated these and other continents in what is called continental drift. Did you know that India was once joined to East Africa? It’s northern migration and crash into the Asiatic plate is the reason we have the Himalayas.
It’s thanks to tectonic movement that iconic and famous formations exist: The Great Rift Valley in East Africa, the Himalayas and Mount Everest, the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Hawaiian islands to name just some.
Tectonic movement is also the reason we experience earthquakes, volcanos and tsunamis. But it’s not all destructive. If the Earth were static, minerals would often stay deep within the mantle and we wouldn’t have precious jewels or mineral-rich soil.
Without the knowledge that comes from studying geography, humans would have a much harder time finding safe places to live, building structures that can withstand the forces of the Earth, finding precious metals, precious and semi-precious stones and resources critical to the global economy such as coal, oil and gas. We’d struggle to understand why the Earth has different climates and ecosystems, and we’d not understand the consequences of human activity on the planet such as global climate change and the hole in the ozone layer.
As Earth is the only place that we can call home for now, why not take this opportunity to learn about the planet and its geography! If there’s something you’re interested in that we don’t have a worksheet for, contact us so we can help.