Geo-literacy is the term that National Geographic has adopted to describe the understanding of how our world works that all members of modern society require. Geo-literacy is the ability to reason about Earth systems and interconnections to make far-reaching decisions. Whether we are making decisions about where to live or what precautions to take for natural hazards, we all make decisions that require geo-literacy throughout our lives. This video illustrates what geo-literacy means to individuals and to our global community. Share it with your friends, family, and colleagues, to help spread the word.

  1. What is geo-literacy?

    • Answer

      Geo-literacy consists of three components: interactions, interconnections, and implications. It is the ability to use geographic understanding and reasoning to make far-reaching decisions in the 21st century.

  2. Geography is clearly more than just dots on a map. So, what is geography?

    • Answer

      Geography is interdisciplinary—it incorporates bits and pieces from the fields of science, arts, health, humanities, law, business, engineering, and technology. The “geographic perspective” (a way to understand a topic or area using spatial relationships) focuses these bits and pieces into a dynamic kaleidoscope of ideas and data. Geography is something you do, not just something you know.

      Those who study geography identify relationships between these varied subjects, graft those relationships onto a geographic space, and explain why certain systems are where they are. A common shorthand for geography is "the why of where."


process of acquiring knowledge and critical-thinking skills.

geographic reasoning

process of making informed, logical decisions based on an accurate understanding of the human and natural world around you.


the understanding of human and natural systems, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.