The big geography picture

Despite its good intentions, the editorial "Where in the World Is ...?," Dec. 2, sustains the unfortunate notion that geography is memorizing facts about places. Geography involves much more than specific places, just as history involves much more than specific dates. Geography asks "Where is something located?" but more importantly it asks "Why is it located there?"Understanding "why" requires a spatial or geographic perspective. Newspapers report daily on places and on issues with a geographic perspective, such as nationalism in Slovenia, rising United States immigration, and world urbanization. Geography ties these diverse themes together, providing clues to questions like: Why is immigration rising in US? And how and why do urbanization patterns differ between Mexico City and Tokyo? The essence of geographic awareness is not knowing where Slovenia is, but in understanding how and why Slovenia is different from any other place in the world. Steven L. Coffeen, Columbus, Ohio

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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