History in intimately correlated to Geography. History studies people of different times and geography deals with the people of different places. In the words of Prof. Immanuel Kant. “Geography and history fill up the entire circumference of our perceptions, geography, that of space and history that of time.” No history can be complete without some reference to space. Similarly, no geographical account can be intelligible without reference to development in time. So, both history and geography are concerned with the inter-play of human and physical factors.
Geography is the stage on which drama of history is enacted and it is the geography which determines the historical events. Andean offer explanation for historical actions of mankind. Similarly, historical facts can serve as a good basis for arousing interest in geographical studies. In explanation of historical fact geographical factors are taken into consideration. Many factors taken into consideration are physical conditions of the life of man, climate, means of communication etc. All these factors determine the direction of human life and history increased by human life and his activities. History of each and every country is governed by their factors. Truly speaking historical studies desired of geographical background would be inaccurate and unscientific. The story of man’s evolution since primitive stage, cannot be told without the varied geographical settings of the world. Man’s mode of living, dieting and dressing etc., are all determined by his physical environment.
If the USA grew into a powerful nation and acquired a rich history, it was very much due to its geographical conditions. Geographical factors were the sole cause of the down fall of many empires. The growth of Beijing, Lahore or Moscow can be better understood by considering various geographical factors. The history of hostility between France and Germany can be explained on the basis of existence of river Rhine and Lorrain coal-fields.
Geography and history bear a very close relationship to each other. Geography is one of the eyes of the beautiful maiden, history, the other eye being chronology. Geographical factors are so important that an American geographer, Ellsworth Huntington, insisted that no nation either ancient or modern rose to the highest cultural status except under the influence of climatic stimulus. Climate, moisture, humidity and weather are all determining factors. Even Aristotle and Montesquieu have emphasised the influence of climate on man. The earlier epochs of history known as the ice or glacial age related to the advance of extreme cold from the poles towards the equator. The very survival of man as a species in the process of evolution was conditioned by these geological and geographical factors.
The influence of geography on history is a subject with which every treatise on history deals in its very first chapter. The physical formation of a country, such as Britain, Japan and Greece with broken coastlines had a very powerful impact on its history. This facilitated their naval strength empire-building activities. The Himalayas and the jungles of Assam have acted as barriers against invasions from the north and east of India respectively. The Himalayas and the Gobi and Mongolian deserts were responsible for the isolation of China. The biting winter of Russia has been the cause for the utter defeat of many an invader including Napoleon and Hitler.
The geography of Egypt has preserved the remains of her ancient civilisation. The Indus and the Ganges have played a vital role in the history of India. The geographical discoveries of the fifteenth and the Sixteenth centuries including the discovery of America and a new route to India determined the character of world history since the Renaissance. Climatology has played a vital role in the formation of national character, and influenced human endeavours and achievements, Floods, drought, hurricanes, earthquakes, mineral deposits, fertility of the soil, rivers, lakes, meadows, coastline and other factors are responsible for many historical events, and hence a knowledge of geography is very essential for historians.