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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a non-Marxist school of economic geography (especially the geography of population) dealing with the place of human society within the complex of geographical phenomena and the mutual interaction of society with the natural environment; its basic standpoint is geographical determinism. In its attempts to explain social phenomena, anthropogeography follows the ideas of the so-called geographical school of sociology. The ideas of both schools date back to the philosophers and sociologists of the 18th century who strove to deduce the “spirit of the laws of social development” from natural conditions, particularly climate (for example, Ch. L. Montesquieu and G. Buffon of France).

Anthropogeography achieved its most complete form in the work of the German geographer, ethnographer, and sociologist F. Ratzel. He revealed that the ties between man and the surrounding environment were more complex than anthropogeographers had previously believed, but at the same time he declared it was the task of anthropogeography “to explain the influence of nature on the spirit and body of individuals and nations.” Ratzel deduced the transition from lower to higher stages of economic development solely from the growth in population density. He made strenuous efforts to link anthropogeography with conceptions of political geography and even the national psychology of peoples. Later on, the ideas of anthropogeography were used extensively in geopolitics.

Anthropogeography claimed universality for the “laws” it deduced. Its adherents could not understand that the influence of nature on society was mediated through the link of production, nor were they able to evaluate the reciprocal influence of society on the natural setting in which it dwelled. In the early 20th century anthropogeography was the leading school in German economic geography (E. Friedrich, K. Hassert, to some extent O. Schlüter, and others). It paid virtually no attention to production, interpreting it only within a scheme of “occupations of the population.” In the 20th century the ideas of anthropogeography have formed the basis for the American school of environmentalism, whose exponent E. Semple attempted to give an account of the historicogeographical development of the USA in the spirit of Ratzel. Still more vulgarized were E. Huntington’s efforts to explain the historical development of countries by their climates. Certain anthropogeographical ideas had some influence on the French school of the “geography of man,” but on the whole this school did not accept geographical determinism. In Russia the ideas of anthropogeography were propagated in the first quarter of the 20th century by L. O. Sinitskii, A. A. Kruber, and others. Anthropogeography has not achieved recognition in the USSR, but its ideas are employed to various degrees even now in many works of bourgeois geography.


Baranskii, N. N. “Uchet prirodnoi sredy v ekonomicheskoi geografii.” In Ekonomicheskaia geografiia: Ekonomicheskaia karto-grafiia. Moscow, 1956.
Ber, K. E. “O vliianii vneshnei prirody na sotsial’nye otnosheniia otdel’nykh narodov i istoriiu chelovechestva.” In Karmannaia knizhka dlia liubitelei zemlevedeniia, izdavaemaia ot Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, za 1848, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1849.
Ivanov-Omskii, I.I. Istoricheskii materializm o roligeograficheskoi sredy v razvitii obshchestva. [Moscow,] 1950.
Kruber, A. Obshchee zemlevedenie, part 3, book 3. Moscow, [1922].
Sinitskii, L. O. Ocherki zemlevedeniia (Antropogeografiia), issue 1. Mosco w-Petrograd, 1923.
Ratzel, Fr. Anthropogeographie, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1882–91.
Semple, E. Influences of Geographic Environment on the Basis of Ratzel’s System of Anthropo-geography. New York, 1927.
Semple, E. American History and Its Geographic Conditions. Boston-New York, 1903.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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This lesson in prudence then is valid not only for zoogeography; anthropogeography must take advantage of it; moreover, Kropotkin clearly indicates that when he shows us those villages of southeastern Russia, whose inhabitants enjoy a real abundance of food, yet see their populations remain static" (Febvre, 1922, page 173).
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