Geography, the science of the human environment and the interrelations between the environment and society. The environment is in this context seen as the landscape formed by Nature (natural landscape) or as the product of human action (man-made or cultural landscape). Geography describes unique spatial structures and analyses the regularity of interactions. It sees itself as an empirical integrative science which deals with aspects of both the natural and social sciences.
Austrian scholars have made remarkable contributions to the geographical exploration of Earth. Geography has been a discipline of research and teaching at Austrian universities since the middle of the 19th century. The first Chair of Physical Geography was established at the University of Vienna in 1851; Graz followed in 1867, Innsbruck in 1880. A second chair (Cultural Geography) was established in Vienna in 1885. The Geographic Cabinet founded in 1853 became the Department of Geography in 1885, which incorporated both these Chairs. The "Geographische Gesellschaft in Wien" (now " Oesterreichische Geographische Gesellschaft"), was founded in 1856. One of its objectives has been the organisation and financing of exploratory expeditions (particularly before 1918). At present there are Chairs of Geography at the universities of Vienna, Graz. Innsbruck, Salzburg and Klagenfurt.
One chapter of physical geography that has received particular attention in Austria is geomorphology. International recognition has been gained in the field of classical Alpine morphology by the work of J. Soelch, H. Spreitzer, A. Leidlmair, T. Pippan and E. Seefeldner. In the field of Quaternary morphology the work of L. Weinberger, H. Kohl, Hans Fischer, Julius Fink, K. Wiche, H. Bobek, H. Spreitzer, E. Lichtenberger, H. Kinzl, H. Paschinger, H. Heuberger, F. Fliri and G. Patzelt deserves particular attention. Other focal points of scientific research have been glaciology (H. Kinzl, H. Paschinger, H. Heuberger and H. Slupetzky), the study of loess deposits (esp. A. Penck, G. Goetzinger and J. Fink) and Witterungsklimatologie (roughly, "synoptic climatology") (F. Fliri, H. Wakonigg).
Leading representatives of cultural geography and regional geography have been A. Supan and N. Krebs as well as the holders of chairs of geography at Vienna University, E. Oberhummer, H. Hassinger, H. Bobek and E. Lichtenberger. International recognition has also been gained in the fields of social geography (H. Bobek), urban geography (E. Lichtenberger), population geography (H. Kinzl) and agricultural geography (E. Arnberger, F. Fliri, A. Leidlmair).
Literature#E. Lichtenberger, Forschungsrichtungen der Geographie. Das oesterreichische Beispiel 1945-1975, in: Mitteilungen der Oesterreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft 117, Vienna 1975.