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Boundaries and shapes of states

Political geography

Geopolitics: the state's power to control space or territory and shape the foreign policy of individual states and international political relations.

Territorial organization: a system of government formally structured by area, not by social groups.

Self-determination: the right of a group with a distinctive politico-territorial identity to determine its own destiny, at least in part, through the control of
its own territory.

Sovereignty: the exercise of state power over people and territory, recognized by other states and codified by international law.

Unitary state: a form of government in which power is concentrated in the central government.

Federal state: a form of government in which power is allocated to units of local government within the country.

Confederation: a group of states united for a common purpose.

Supranational organization: (supra=above)
collections of individual states with a common goal that may be economic and/or political in nature and which diminish, to some extent, individual state sovereignty in favor of the group interests of the membership.

examples: EU, NAFTA, WTO

International organization: (inter=between)
a group that includes two or more states seeking political and/or economic cooperation with each other.

examples: OPEC, UN, COMECON

East/West divide: communist and noncommunist countries respectively.
Warsaw Pact (military) and Comecon (economic) became the communist counterparts to NATO (military) the EU and OECD (both economic)

Domino theory: if one country in a region chose or was forced to accept a communist political and economic system, then neighboring countries
would be irresistibly susceptible to falling to communism.

North/South divide: the differentiation made between the colonizing states of the northern hemisphere and the formerly colonized states of the
southern hemisphere.

Colonialism: the formal establishment and maintenance of rule by a sovereign power over a foreign population including the establishment of settlements.

Decolonization: the acquisition, by colonized peoples, of control over their own territory.

Neocolonialism: the domination of peripheral states by core states, not by direct political intervention but by economic and cultural influence and

The Development of Apartheid in South Africa

Population registration act (1948)
citizens classified as members of one of four racial groups:

White - 5 million
Asian - 1 million
Coloured - 3.5 million
Black - 29 million

Throughout the early 1950's a series of laws were passed to institutionalize racism.

Separate amenities act
White and non-white amenities were designated.

Mixed marriages act
to prevent 'mixed marriages'

Immorality act
to prevent social contact between races

Group areas act
to segregate residential areas on the basis of race

1960's formal Apartheid
Creation of black Bantustans or homelands - based on ethnicity.

By granting independence, blacks were expected to exercise their political rights in their own 'countries.'

Bantustans are non-contiguous territories with no significant mineral resources or farmland.

Boundaries were drawn to avoid major core areas, infrastructure and resources.

As the Bantustans were 'independent countries,' Blacks had to have a pass to enter South Africa.

Severe backwash effects were created as able-bodied males migrated far for work.

In reality, by the 1980's, half the black population lived in 'White' South Africa.

International sanctions in the 1980's and the end of the cold war led to the dismantling of apartheid in 1994.

Why did apartheid last as long as it did?
Why did it take world powers like the U.S. so long to condemn apartheid?

Historical geography of the holy land

Jewish state of Israel established in 1948.

Palestinian statehood based on fragmented territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sectionalism: extreme devotion to local interests and customs.


Aryeetey-Attoh, Samuel 1997 Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ

Johnston, R.J. Dictionary of Human Geography Blackwell Press 2000