Political Geography
What is Political Geography?
Study of governmental systems
Study of nation-states
Nations, States, and Nation States?
Nation – a people with
common culture, usually in
a specific territory
State – sovereign
government, located in
specific territory
Nation-State – nation and
state in same territory
Types of Borders
Natural Borders – created
by physical features
Example: Rio Grande River
(Mexico and US)
Political Borders
–artificial, set by
govt. (imaginary
Example: North
and South Korea
Major Functions of Governments
Different government systems
divide powers and responsibilities
differently. Separation of powers,
distribution of powers vary by
Executive – authority for the dayto-day operation of the
Legislative – decision-making
assembly or other body
Judicial – law and justice issues
Major Types of Political Systems
We will discuss good things and bad things about each one.
citizens hold political power
2 main kinds – “direct”
democracy, “representative”
 USA, most modern nations
Who has power?
 King or Queen
What else should you
 Usually shares power
with other groups,
typically a legislature –
making them a
“constitutional monarchy”
 Great Britain, Jordan
Who has power?
 Government has all political
power (not the people)
What else should you know?
One ruler – “Dictatorship”
Group – “Oligarchy”
Total control of all aspects of a
citizen’s life – “Totalitarianism”
Nazi Germany, Soviet Union
Cuba, North Korea, Syria
People’s Republic of China
“Anarchy” or “Failed State”
Who has power?
•Nobody, or gangs and warlords… violence = political power in a failed
state. There often is a government, but it has no control over its territory.
What else should you know?
•The instability is often fueled by illegal drugs or resources, because of
external interference.
•See map
Human Interactions
What is an Ethnic Group?
A group of people who share language,
customs and a common heritage.
What is Race?
Race A group of human beings
distinguished by physical traits, blood types,
genetic code patterns or genetically
inherited characteristics.
Believing that one’s own culture is best or
better than others.
Why people move.
Push – means leaving an area because of
what is happening in the area you are
 Ex. Political unrest, no jobs, natural disaster
Pull – means leaving an area because of
what is happening in the area you are going
 Ex. Good jobs, stable government, weather
What happens when people move?
Do you become like them??
 Assimilation –the minority is absorbed by the
What happens when you move?
Do they become a little like you?
 Cultural Diffusion – The spread of ideas,
inventions or patterns of behavior to
different societies.
What happens when you move?
Acculturation – Cultural change that occurs
when individuals in a society accept or adopt an