Global human genetic variation is greatly influenced by geography, with genetic differentiation between populations increasing with geographic distance and within-population diversity decreasing with distance from Africa. In fact, these 'clines' can explain most of the variation in human populations. Despite this, population genetics inferences often rely on models that do not take geography into account, which could result in misleading conclusions when working at global geographic scales. Geographically explicit approaches have great potential for the study of human population genetics. Here, we discuss the most promising avenues of research in the context of human settlement history and the detection of genomic elements under natural selection. We also review recent technical advances and address the challenges of integrating geography and genetics.