Political Geography

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Political Geography
Additional Notes
State Shapes
Countries take a variety of shapes and sizes. Each countries unique shape and location offers it both advantages
in the scope of global politics. Countries with extremely large land bases, such as Russia and Canada, must deal
with a unique set of problems related to the administration of vast physical landscapes. Countries that have
proruptions or exclaves must be able to incorporate effectively areas that are physically detached into the
national mainstream. And fragmented states must determine ways to create a cohesive national fabric out of
many little swatches of land.
Fragmented State:
A state that is not a contiguous whole but rather separated parts
Phillippines (Fragmented)
Compact State:
A state that possesses a roughly circular, oval, or
Rectangular territory in which the distance from
The geometric center is relatively equal in all
directions.
Poland (Compact)
Prorupted State:
A state that exhibits a narrow, elongated land extension
leading away from the mainland territory.
Thailand (Prorupted)
Elongated State:
A State whose territory is long and narrow in shape.
Chile (Elongated)
Other types of states:
 Rectangular State: A state whose territory is rectangular in shape. (Angola)
 Landlocked State: A state that is completely surrounded by the land of other states, which gives it a
disadvantage in terms of accessibility to and from international trading routes. (Nepal)
 Exclave: A bounded territory that is part of a particular state but is separated from it by the territory of a
different state. (During the Cold War, West Berlin was an Enclave)
Boundary Types
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Geometric Boundaries: Political boundaries that are defined and delimited by straight lines.
Physical Boundaries: Political boundaries that correspond with prominent physical features such as
mountain ranges or rivers.
Subsequent Boundaries: Boundary line established after an area has been settled that considers the
social and cultural characteristics of the area.
Superimposed Boundaries: Boundary line drawn in an area ignoring the existing cultural pattern. Many
times established by a power outside of the territory.
Antecedent Boundaries: Boundary that existed before the cultural landscape emerged.
Relict Boundaries: Boundary that has ceased to function, but its imprint can still be detected in the
cultural landscape.
Primate Cities
A country's leading city is always disproportionately large and exceptionally expressive of national capacity
and feeling. The primate city is commonly at least twice as large as the next largest city and more than twice as
significant. - Mark Jefferson, 1939
Geographer Mark Jefferson developed the law of the primate city to explain the phenomenon of huge cities that
capture such a large proportion of a country's population as well as its economic activity. These primate cities
are often, but not always, the capital cities of a country. An excellent example of a primate city is Paris, which
truly represents and serves as the focus of France. They dominate the country in influence and are the national
focal-point. A primate city can be considered a centripetal force. For, their sheer size and activity becomes a
strong pull factor, bringing additional residents to the city and causing the primate city to become even larger
and more disproportional to smaller cities in the country.
Examples of Countries With Primate Cities
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Paris (9.6 million) is definitely the focus of France while Marseilles has a population of 1.3 million.
Similarly, the United Kingdom has London as its primate city (7 million) while the second largest
city, Birmingham, is home to a mere one million people.
Mexico City, Mexico (8.6 million) outshines Guadalajara (1.6 million).
A huge dichotomy exists between Bangkok (7.5 million) and Thailand's second city, Nanthaburi
(481,000).
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