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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY

„ Study of the human organization of space


POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY
and the distribution of political phenomena
States, boundaries, and
„ Includes the study of nationality
geopolitics
„ Includes the study of country units or
states

STATES, NATIONS, AND


TYPICAL ISSUES
NATION STATES
„ Boundary delineations „ State
„ International alliances … Independent political unit, occupying a
defined, permanently populated territory. A
„ Regional compacts state has full sovereign control over its internal
„ Producer Cartels
and foreign affairs
… Most countries can be considered states
„ Voting Patterns
… Exceptions include
„ Constituency boundaries „ Colonies
„ Protectorates

Of all of the world's states, the largest in terms STATES, NATIONS, AND
of area covered in Russia. Russia is so vast
that it spans eleven different time zones NATION STATES
„ Nation
… Refers to a group of people with a common
culture who occupy a particular territory
… Always a strong sense of unity usually arising
from shared customs and beliefs
… Language and religion may be integral in the
idea of nation

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STATES, NATIONS, AND
TYPES OF NATION STATES
NATION STATES
„ Bi-national / multi-national
„ Nation State
… Contains more than one nation
…A state whose territorial extent coincides with
that occupied by a distinct nation or people
„ Part nation state
with common beliefs … One nation is dispersed across more than one
state
„ E.g. Japan, Iceland, Poland
„ E.g. Arab nation is present over 17 states
„ Stateless nation
… A nation that has no state

EVOLUTION OF THE GEOGRAPHIC


MODERN STATE CHARACTERISTICS OF STATES
„ Every state can be distinguished from
„ Developed by Europeans in the C18th other states by its geographic
„ People owed allegiance to a state and the characteristics
people that it represents rather than to the „ These include
ruling body … Size
… Shape
… Location
… Core areas and capitals

SIZE SHAPE
„ Size of states vary from very small (e.g. „ COMPACT
Leichtenstein) to very large (e.g. Russia) … The ideal state shape
is considered as a
„ In general larger states have access to circle with the capital
more resources than smaller states located in the center
„ Small states are more likely to be culturally … Capital is accessible
from all parts of the
homogenous than large ones state

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Shape cont.
Shape cont.

PRORUPT ELONGATE
„ Almost compact states „ Long and narrow states
„ Contain one or two narrow „ Most parts of the state are
extensions of the territory
far from the capital, and can
„ May represent be isolated
… Peninsulas
… Buffer zones between two other „ Characterized by
states that may other be joined … Climatic diversity
… A corridor providing access to … Cultural diversity
state resources

Shape cont. Shape cont.

FRAGMENTED PERFORATED
„ Occurs when one state
„ Composed entirely of completely surrounds
islands another over which it has
„ Fragmentation makes it no control
difficult to impose central … a.k.a. enclave
control over territory
„ Before removal of the
Berlin Wall, East
Germany was perforated

LOCATION
„ Absolute and relative location are
significant
… E.g.Iceland has an absolute location ~65°
north in the Atlantic Ocean
„ The country is mostly barren (lots of volcanic and
glacial activity)
„ Most settlement is concentrated around the rim of
the island

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location cont.

„ Relative location of one state compared


to another can be vital
… E.g. Landlocked states are disadvantaged
„ States that have no ocean frontage
„ No access to maritime trade routes

CORES AND CAPITALS BOUNDARIES


„ Original core area of a state usually „ Each state is separated by international
contains the densest population, and boundaries
largest cities „ Within that boundary a state
… Southeast England … Administers laws
… Northeast USA … Collects taxes
… Provides defense
„ Capital city is usually in the core area
„ Before boundaries there were frontier
zones

BOUNDARY CLASSIFICATION US/ Mexico


border @
„ Natural boundaries
… follow a physical feature, often a river, mountain range
Mexicalli
or lake
… Mountains and Oceans create the best boundaries
„ Geometric boundaries
… follow a geometric shape, typically a straight line,
parallel of latitude, or meridian of longitude
„ Parts of the US/Canada and US/Mexico boundary are
geometric

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Boundary classification
US/Canada border cont.
„ Antecedent boundaries
Alberta Saskatchewan … drawn before there was much human
settlement in an area
„ Sahara of northern Africa
„ Canada / US the result of a treaty signed in
1846 between the US and Britain
„ Subsequent boundaries
… drawn after people had already settled in
Montana
an area

Boundary classification Boundary classification


cont. cont.

„ Consequent boundaries (ethnographic „ Superimposed boundaries


boundaries) … drawn after people were living in an area
and ignores human patterns
… drawn in such a way as to pay particular
„ Most of the boundaries of Subsaharan Africa
attention to human patterns on the were drawn with no real regard to tribal identities
landscape and other human patterns
„ India and Pakistan boundary drawn carefully to „ Relic boundaries
accommodate
… Muslim majority in Pakistan
… no longer functioning
… Non-Muslim majority in India „ Berlin Wall separating east and west Berlin
„ Hadrian’s Wall separating those areas in Britain
conquered by the Roman Empire, from those not
conquered by the Roman Empire

Hadrian’s Wall: a relic boundary


Great Wall of
China: a relic
boundary

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Boundary disputes Geopolitics
„ Positional disputes „ A branch of political geography that
… States disagree about where a boundary actually lies considers
„ Territorial disputes … Economic
… Arises over the ownership of a particualar region … Political
„ Resource disputes … Military aspects of space
„ Functional disputes „ Can assess and recommend actions in
… Neighboring states disagree over function of boundary international relations best designed for
national security, projection of power

Geopolitical theories – the Geopolitical theories – the


heartland theory rimland theory
„ Rooted from Halford MacKinder at the „ Modification of the Heartland theory by
beginning of the C20th when Russia Nicholas Spykman
and Germany dominated Eastern … Coastal fringes (rimland) are the key, not the
Europe core
… Major powers would be those that „ Contain the densest populations
controlled the land rather than the sea „ Contain the most resources
… Those lands with the largest landmasses “ Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia,
would become the most powerful Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of
… The interior (heartland) would provide a the world”
base for world conquest

Geopolitical theories – Geopolitical theories – the


containment domino theory
„ By the end of WWII, heartland was equated
with the USSR
„ States that where a country in the Rimland
„ During the Cold War US foreign policy was
dominated by containment is successfully taken over by a country in
… Confine the USSR by making regional alliances in the “Heartland”, all adjacent countries will
the Rimland fall
„ NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
„ CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) „ Invoked to explain US intervention in
„ SEATO (Southeast Treaty Organization Vietnam
„ Allows military intervention where communist
expansion seemed to be taking place

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Centripetal Forces
„ Promotes unity and national stability
… Nationalism
… Unifyinginstitutions
… Organization and Administration
… Transportation and Communication

Only 8 railroads cross the boundary between the US and


Canada – promotes national growth

Centrifugal Forces cont.

Centrifugal Forces Subnationalism


„ Challenges State Authority „ When more than one nationality occupies
„ Nation states generally are not affected by a state
centrifugal forces that weaken or destroys „ Can be disruptive if a group believes that
a state’s unity and stability its right to self-determination has not been
„ Most strong in states that contain two or achieved
more nationalities that occupy distinct … Nationalities
have the right to govern
territories themselves in their own state or territory

Centrifugal Forces cont.

Regionalism
„ Occurs when a minority nationality has an
explicit territorial identity
„ Expressed as a desire for more autonomy
and sometimes separation from the rest of
the country
… Quebec, Canada
… Scotland, UK

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Centrifugal Forces cont.

Devolution
„ Often when regionalism occurs
governments have offered decentralization
of political power
… E.g. Scotland and Wales now have their own
parliaments although they are not states of
themselves