Geographic determinism is the theory that the human habits and characteristics of a particular culture are shaped by geographic conditions. Coined by Ellsworth Huntington, the theory looked at the rise and fall of the Roman Empire from 400-500. Much of the fall of the empire had to do with a regional drought which decreased the fertility of the land and agriculture output. The lack of food from this event strained the empire and exacerbated the political situation to the point of collapse. Professor Jared Diamond extrapolates the theory in his Pulitzer Prize-winning work Guns, Germs, and Steel.
The theory has grown to encompass all environmental and geographic conditions and their impact on the social, political and economic forces of a society. Technology is seen as the only way to mitigate risks associated with geographic determinism.