In this essay, I will present 3 or more reasons, citing textual evidence that answers the essential question, “How do both the Physical Geography and the Human Geography contribute to the areas of Europe and Russia?” and close with how it relates to today.
First, while they both lie on the land region Eurasia, Russia has more plains and large lakes, while Europe possesses more peninsulas and mountain ranges. This is true as the Geography Alive! Book proves this when it states that: “Europe and Russia occupy part of the huge landmass called Eurasia… Smaller peninsulas jut out from all sides of Europe… [and] Much of Russia also lies on broad plains.” While this is an important factor on its own, considering how much this covers the topic of physical features within Europe and Russia, it also drives many other, perhaps more important subjects as well. To begin with, the natural layout of these land masses impact the cultural and economic development of the peoples there. If they were not suitable for human life, they would have ended up like Antarctica- it has lots of space, but not the climate suited for thriving. Other than being able to support the basic needs of humans, the land of Europe and Russia’s distinct landforms provide different natural resources and requirements-for-living, meaning that the humans who live there will, in time, develop their own unique cultures and economy based off of that- both for early and modern civilizations. A clear example of this is in Russia, the mountainous and freezing terrain means that most inhabitants can’t rely on farming to get food- much food of Russia must be imported. However, Russia can use another feature of its landscape- fossil fuels. On one hand, people there are at a disadvantage because of the harsh climate. On the other, they have the advantage of being able to sell a lot of the oil that’s hidden there. This fact proves to us that even though the distinct landforms of Europe and Russia may appear to only affect our understanding of the physical features, it can also deepen our understanding and knowledge of why certain cultures or economic activities developed in one place, but not the other. Therefore, understanding the various types of landforms located in Europe and Russia can contribute to our further understanding of the essential question in multiple ways.
Second, while Europe naturally had a lot of forests containing chaparral, Russia is known for having frozen taigas and tundras. The Geography Alive! Book proves this when it claims that: “The coastal parts of Europe bordering the Mediterranean Sea are covered with chaparral… In northern Russia, the tundra is treeless… south of the tundra lies the taiga, a vast region of thick, dark trees.” The traits of vegetation in a certain region is, while it may not seem so at first, important to the development of both parts of the essential question; human and physical geography. This is due to the fact that the types of plants greatly influence how humans develop in that particular area, which later stems into greater changes. Of course, Europe having lots of chaparral and Russia being mostly frozen is good information to know about the physical features of these areas, but more importantly, we must understand how this affects the people living there to really make this information more important than other aspects of the environment and ecosystem. To illustrate, if a certain civilization had only a couple types of edible plants, they’d treasure them greatly, while other civilizations might disregard that kind of plant as incredibly common. So what exactly can we identify from the vegetation status of Europe and Russia? Well, Russia quite clearly cannot rely on the plants they have to support them. They rely on other natural resources, since the freezing temperatures don’t allow for many edible plants to even grow- so the Russian people have to trade/sell to get crops as well as animals that eat plants. Europe is more self-sustainable, as it has mostly mild temperatures all around which allow for a variety of trees and plants to grow, and with them come more animals. Each one serves a different purpose, as well- trees allow for wood, which is a key material with many uses, plants can be eaten or used as medicine, and animal products can be meat or made into clothing. Many of these only apply to earlier generations, but it’s their culture and survival methods that pass onto today and influence the next generations of humanity. Overall, it’s quite clear that vegetation can play a bigger role in physical and human development than expected.
Third, Europe and Russia are both vital economic regions because of their many natural resources like fossil fuels, or their varying types of possible land uses like manufacturing and farming. I know this because in the Geography Alive! Book it says that: “Europe and Russia are both important industrial areas… [since] Europe and Russia are rich in natural resources. These include fossil fuels and minerals… Outside of its cities, Europe is largely a land of farms… Manufacturing has become important to Russia over the last 75 years.” Economy is one of the most crucial factors to building a steady civilization, and therefore understanding the economic activity and situation of the area in question can be very helpful for understanding that area and the people who live in it. Europe and Russia, as stated in the quote, are both very economically unique and powerful, in different ways. The understanding of these “ways” is also key, partially, to understanding the human features that may exist in the area. Europe isn’t known for its natural resources, but European countries are known for historical achievements, inventions, and development in technology. This helps us understand the economic stance of the area- since many countries in Europe have always focused on inventions and technology, most of these are well-off, both economically as well as politically (which, of course, is directly impacted by economics). Many have also been global powerhouses at a time for various reasons, like Greece, Spain, and the U.K, to name a few. Russia, on the other hand, has always had lots of natural resources- as in key fossil fuels- to be able to sell to other countries, which leads to better technology and manufacturing. Also, another fact remains that once most people in an area can support their families, more human features tend to be apparent, like the development of culture and religion. Therefore, once we understand the economic situation of both Europe and Russia can we really understand the answer to the essential question, as knowing how these two civilizations expanded using natural resources, land use, and development of technology is a massive part of the “human geography” part.
To summarize, Europe and Russia can be defined by their human and physical features in a variety of ways. They each possess distinct land formations, first of all, despite being located on the same general landmass. As an illustration, Europe has lots of forests and peninsulas that jut out to the Atlantic, while Russia is basically a gigantic plain with frozen peaks and lakes many months of the year thanks to their separate climates and geographical locations. Directly impacted by this is the vegetation situation of both regions, and this aspect proves its importance in how it can change both physical and human features. While the vegetation itself may be a physical feature of the land, it also can alter how humans use the land they live in, as vegetation can be used for resources and food- an important example of this is how lots of vegetation doesn’t grow in parts of Russia, due to the cold weather. Moving onto a more human aspect of these lands, economic activity is also crucial to monitor since it dictates so many key pillars in a country; namely politics, population, standards of living, etc. These facts contribute to today, as well, considering Europe and Russia are still important regions to study and be knowledgeable about. They each impact the world in a variety of ways, from ancient times all the way to the present. These places also affect us, though not as dramatically- they manufacture many of the products we use today; an example of this might be european-brand cars out on the road- which, of course, are still very popular even in the U.S. More specifically, understanding the history of Europe and Russia can also prove beneficial considering how big of a role each has played in general world history, especially European countries like Greece or the United Kingdom. To conclude these facts, the answer to the essential question about the physical and human features of Europe and Russia is contained in each of the facts mentioned above. Physical/human features define these regions- each separate feature has its own way of contributing to the complexity of each place.