Livescience finally comes up with a delicious article on how and why one of my favorite foods has so many varieties. It also describes the processes used in the creation of it - everything you ever wanted to know about cheese and maybe then some.
"In fact, all cheese types—there are now more than 1,400--initially arose due to the unique constraints forced by geography and the human effort to preserve the valuable commodity that is milk, says food scientist Paul Kindstedt, of the University of Vermont.
Cheese recipes initially arose as a way to preserve the nutritional value in milk for longer periods of time, so the number of types primarily reflects the number of struggling pre-industrial communities that successfully devised a method to achieve this given their local climate, resources and terrain."
In short, different constraints caused by local conditions inspired different methods, giving us the wide ranging and delicious results known today. mmmmmm.