Geography’s Impact on Culture and Society
When studying ancient civilizations and the beginning societies in the world, the geography has shaped its story significantly. Depending on the location of the civilization society, whether or not water was nearby was crucial for its survival. With trade networks, metals, foods, and languages were spread. Weapons were able to be formed from these metals which led to a stronger military. Mountain ranges formed the boundaries of civilizations. Geography greatly impacted Asia, Africa and Europe.
Asia is “the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres”. Its land mass covers almost 9% of the Earth's surface area, 30% of its land area and it holds nearly 60% of the world's current human population . Most of central Asia is covered by cold steppes. Dictionary.com describes a steppe as “an extensive plain, especially one without trees” , consisting mainly of grasslands and considered to be a land that is “too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert” .
The coastal border of Asia was inhabited by some of the world's earliest known civilizations that developed around fertile river valleys. These people “may well have exchanged technologies and ideas such as mathematics and the wheel with one another”1.
The central steppe region had long been inhabited by nomads who could reach all areas of Asia from the steppes on horseback. The northernmost part of Asia, which includes much of Siberia, was largely inaccessible to these steppe nomads, due to the dense forests, climate and tundra. These areas remained very sparsely populated due to the geography of the land that made living conditions difficult.1
The center and edges of Asia were mostly kept separated by mountains and deserts running between them. The Caucasus and Himalayan mountain ranges and the Karakum and Gobi deserts formed barriers that made it extremely difficult for the steppe horsemen to cross. Even though these urban city dwellers were more advanced technologically and socially, they were not prepared in a military aspect to defend against the mounted hordes of the steppe. The lowlands did not have enough grassland to support a large herd of horsemen, so the nomadic people ended up adapting to the culture of China, the Middle East, and India, which they conquered. 1
Mesopotamia was home to some of the earliest known civilizations. The name “Mesopotamia” comes from two Greek words meaning “the land between two rivers”, referring to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. These rivers brought a large amount of freshwater to the region and by getting access to this water provided a new way of life: agriculture. Irrigation led to harvesting crops of barley, wheat, and peas. This then increased the food supplies and was able to support a quickly growing population . Because the land between the rivers was fertile, this provided sufficient soil and crop growing.