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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - The State.docx

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Geography 3422A/B
Milford Green

The State 4/2/2013 11:44:00 AM The State  State – portion of geographical state within which the resident population is governed by an authority structure o States have externally recognized sovereignty over their territory  Nation – a reasonably large group of people with a common culture, sharing one or more cultural traits such as religion, language, political institutions, values and historical experience o They tend to identify with one another, feel closer to each other than outsiders o It may not have a recognized and defined territory  Nation-state – condition where state and nation have the same boundaries o There are currently about 196 nation states  Actual number depends on the source and definition  In the 1900s there were 57 Small States  Half of the world’s countries now have smaller populations than the state of Massachusetts o This growth has taken place at a time when many parts of the world seem to be trying to band together to capture the advantages of scale, such as the single market and the Euro  What does that say about the costs and benefits of size? o Do the main advantages of size—security and a large domestic market—count for less in a world of increasingly liberal trade and technologies that largely overcome distance?  Small states are nothing new o The city-states of ancient Greece had populations smaller than Iceland’s today:  Athens, at its peak in the age of Pericles, had perhaps 200,000 people, slaves included o Renaissance Italy was also a world of tiny city states:  Florence, that cradle of so much art, had some 70,000 citizens in its heyday  Venice, the Hong Kong of the medieval world, had 115,000  At the outbreak of the WWI, only 62 independent countries existed in the entire globe o The past half-century has seen the number grow from 74 in 1946 to 196 today o The upshot has been the creation of many more small states o Thanks to the simultaneous growth in the total world population, the average population of a country has not declined greatly  It is down from around 32m in 1946 to 29m today o But it is the Iceland’s that have proliferated  87 countries have populations of under 5m  58 have fewer than 2.5m people  35 have fewer than 500,000  Why the growth of the minis? o The main country-creating force has been the end of colonial rule  Mainly seen in sub-Saharan Africa, which now has 48 independent states, more than any other continent  Between 1960 and 1964, 25 new African countries came into being o A second force has been the collapse of the Soviet Union  The ex-union itself split into 15 separate nations  In east-central Europe, Slovaks seceded from Czechs  The former Yugoslavs became five independent states  The two Germans reunited  Europe as a whole went from a continent of 32 countries to one of 48  Smaller doesn’t generally mean poorer o Countries with big populations are often politically powerful, but they are not so often prosperous o Tables of GDP/capita reveals a striking shortage of very large countries, and even of middling-large ones o Of the ten countries with populations of over 100m, only the United States and Japan are prosperous  Many small nations are poor o Littleness is no barrier to wealth:  In purchasing-power terms, Luxembourg (population 511,000) has the world’s highest GDP per head  The 9,000-odd citizens of Nauru (a Pacific island composed largely of phosphates), the world’s smallest republic, has a GDP per head that matches well to countries such as Portugal or South Korea  Small countries have been the biggest beneficiaries of freer trade o Small countries are big traders o Trade allows small countries the luxury of specializing  Can bring vulnerability – the smallest states often rely on one or two products for the lion’s share of their exports  Small home markets brings weaknesses o Since trade deals are done on the most-favoured-nation principle, and a concession to one partner has to be extended to every other, small economies have no bargaining power  In general, specializing is likely to bring efficiency o Openness to trade brings prosperity o It may be because their small size forces small countries to open their markets more than larger countries, which turn their backs on the global market Large States  Case for being big o Bigness gives you clout  A small state may enjoy a seat at the United Nations, but not in the Security Council or the G8 – the rich- world club  G8 countries:  Canada  France  Germany  Italy  Japan  Russia  United Kingdom  United States  Pakistan has an economy less than 1/2 the size of Norway’s, but its bigger army gives it a louder voice o The security that size brings you is not just of the military sort  A large economy is better placed to absorb shocks in different regions o If an oil-price collapse throws Texas into recession, California and New York may still boom o Not only can national taxes provide a regional insurance fund; unemployed Texans can easily move to work in states that have jobs on offer  Insurance against regional economic shocks are fine if the shocks are temporary o Many regions on the receiving end of such insurance are permanently on the receiving end of transfers from their wealthier countrymen o Creates a regional welfare dependency and resentment  Bigness brings certain efficiencies o A large market, undivided by customs duties and united by a single set of standards and cultural tastes, allows economies of scale such as large production runs o This is the advantage of the United States that inspired Europe to try to weld a single market out of the European Economic Community o This benefit has dwindled as trade barriers have come down  Other advantages: o A large population of taxpayers share the cost of public goods such as roads, a telephone network, defense and civil servants o Spreading the costs of government has drawbacks  People may not like sharing the cost of policies with people they dislike making the government seem unaccountable and remote  Advantages of being large diminish, attractions of being small increase o Large countries are usually ethnically and culturally diverse (Japan, a rare economic success among giants, is an exception) o Small countries tend to be ethnically homogeneous o Independence movements from Quebec to Catalonia have a desire for cultural or racial exclusivity  Small countries will seek the advantages of size by joining international clubs, where they have a lot of influence o Even when the rules are not one country, one vote (as in the EU, where big countries have more votes than small
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