Geography 1400F/G Chapter Notes -Political Geography
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Lecture 6 & 7 –Politics and Space
What is political geography? (see p.208)
A branch of human geography concerned with the spatial analysis of political phenomena.
Political Geography is the study of the organization and distribution of political phenomena,
including their impact on other spatial components of society and culture.
Key concepts in Political Geography (p. 208-209
Nation (p 209)
Nation A culturally distinctive group of people occupying a specific territory and bound
together by a sense of unity arising from share ethnicity, beliefs, and customs.
Nation can be defined as
1. An independent political unit holding sovereignty over a territory (a member of the UN)
2. A community of people with a common culture and territory (eg,. The Kurdish nation.)
The second definition is not synonymous with state or country
Cree Nation is a nation however does not hold territorial sovereignty to be a state.
State (syn: country) An independent political unit occupying a defined, permanently
populated territory and having full sovereign control over its internal and foreign affairs.
State can be defined as either
1. Any of the political units forming a federal government (e.g., one of the Canadian
2. An independent political entity holding sovereignty over a territory (e.g., Canada)
In the latter sense, state is synonymous with country or nation. (All states are nations but
not all Nations are states)
Antarctica is not a state as there is neither established government nor permanent
Stateless nation (lecture slides)
Stateless Nations are nations that do not currently have a state of their own.
Basque living in Northern Spain and Southern France want to form their own state
Kurds living is dispersed across Turkey, Iraq, and Syria – pushing for a sovereign state to be
carved out of northern Iraq
Palestinians living in the state of Israel
A Nation-State refers to a state whose territory is occupied by a distinct nation, whose
population shares a general sense of cohesion and adherence to a set of common values.
Few countries are Nation-States (i.e., wholly uniform ethnically) However, examples cited
include Iceland, Slovenia, Poland, North Korea, and South Korea.
Multi-National States p. 209)
A bi-national or multi-national state is one that contains more than one nation.
Most states are multi-national.
For example the former Soviet Union officially recognized the “nations” of: Ukrainians,
Kazakhs, Tatars, Estonians, and others. (Many Nations in one state)
In contrast a Part-nation state has one nation that may be dispersed across two or more
states. An example is the Arab Nation which dominates 17 states.
Politics and Territory (p. 214-217)
How size, shape and location influence the state’s stability
Examples of Location’s Influence
Despite Canada and Russia being extremely large their absolute location in the upper middle
latitudes reduces their size advantages when agricultural potential is considered.
A state’s relative location its position compared to that of other countries is just as import as
Land-locked states that lack ocean frontage and are surrounded by other states are at a
commercial and strategic disadvantage. Such as easy access to maritime trade and resources
found in coastal waters and submerged lands.
There are approximately 40 landlocked states.
A favourable relative location constitutes a primary resource of a state. Singapore is located
at a crossroads of world shipping and commerce. Countries located on major trade routes
have benefitted from economic advantage, and the diffusion of new ideas and technologies.
Shape and Size
States came to their present shape and size by expanding their territory over centuries.
It grew outward from the core area of a state which is the most developed economic base,
densest population, largest cities, most developed transportation systems, and historically
its resources. All of these characteristics diminish as one moves away from the core area
with exception to resources.
Countries with dominant national cores: Paris, France. London, England. Moscow, Russia.
Countries without defined cores: Chad, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia
Two or more core Areas: Ecuador, Nigeria, Vietnam.
Capital Cities are usually within a core region due to seat of central authority, population,
and economic functions. Usually the largest or primate city (see countries with dominant