Geographic Societies

Geographic Societies


national and international societies that unite professional geographers and people interested in geography.

Geographic societies arose in the 19th century in the largest foreign countries (in the cities of Paris, 1821; Berlin, 1828; London, 1830; New York, 1852; Vienna, 1856; Florence and Rome, 1867; and Madrid, 1876). Private associations of geographers had already arisen in the 17th and 18th centuries (Venice, 1684; Nuremberg, 1740).

The Russian Geographic Society was founded in 1845. In 1926 it was transformed into the State Geographic Society, and in 1938 into the Geographic Society of the USSR. In 1956 it affiliated with the International Geographical Union.

Geographic societies are usually national organizations. In a number of countries there are also independent regional associations (in Australia, Belgium, India, Canada, and the USA) and special associations, such as those of teachers of geography or of economic geographers (Japan). Some countries (Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia) do not have national societies but only regional ones, all of equal importance, whose activities are coordinated by geographic councils or associations. In some of the more developed countries there are purely professional associations of geographers, in addition to geographic societies (USA, France, and Japan). In the International Geographical Union, countries are mainly represented by their national societies. The majority of geographic societies consider their main tasks to be the geographic study of their respective countries and the popularization of geographic knowledge. Geographic societies organize research expeditions, study questions of the methodology of teaching geography in secondary and higher educational institutions, and work on various geographical problems that have both theoretical significance and practical applications.

Geographic societies are social organizations that function by private means, but they are usually affiliated with various government institutions and their activity generally reflects the existing social and political relations in a particular country. In advanced capitalist countries, monopolies often exploit the activities of geographic societies for their own purposes, particularly for research of possible markets and the objectives of expansion into the various parts of the world.


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