Brazil Celebrates the “Day of the Geographer”

In the United States, we pay homage to some of our greatest men and women by recognizing their professional lives. From Presidents’ Day to Veterans’ Day to Labor Day, all of us enjoy holidays in celebration of the hard work we put into our livelihoods for over 50 weeks each year.

As the United States celebrated its fallen soldiers during Monday’s Memorial Day celebrations, Brazil prepared to recognize another professional community: its geographers. “Dia do Geógrafo,” or “Day of the Geographer,” is recognized annually on May 29 by the largest country in the southern hemisphere. Its purpose? To acknowledge the work done by geographers and their contributions to Brazil’s past, present, and future.

“Dia do Geógrafo” educates citizens on the roles played by geographers, reminding us that although studying climate, vegetation, and rivers is important, it is only a small focus of professional geographers. Geographers also study the economy, population, political divisions, culture, and much, much more. Using these two parallels–physical geography and human geography–geographers delineate how people interact with the environment in which they live.

As a fast-developing “BRICS” (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South
Africa) nation, Brazil will face great challenges in sustaining smart development
over the course of the coming decades. Geographers will play an
important role in planning for the country’s sustainable development in urban, regional, and rural settings. Geographers have already
played key roles in education, urban planning, resource conservation,
environmental protection, and population studies throughout the country.

In the United States, Geography Awareness Week is recognized in
November, bringing the importance of geography education to the public’s
attention. GIS Day, celebrated on the Wednesday of Geography Awareness Week, is perhaps the closest we come to celebrating geography as a
profession, but it is more a recognition of the tool than the trade (and of course, GIS is used by many professionals other than geographers).

What do you think?  Should we recognize geographers with their own day in the U.S.?
Let us know your thoughts by responding in the comments section!

Justin Fisch for Nat Geo Education

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