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Political Geography - APHG Cheat Sheet by [deleted]

AP Human Geography Political Geo Terms

Initial Unders­tan­dings

Nation - a group of people bound together by a common political identity
State - an area organized into a political unit and ruled by an establ­ished government that has control over its internal and foreign affairs. It has a permanent popula­tion, occupies defined territory, and has sovere­ignty.
Nation­-state - a state where the territory of the state corres­ponds to that occupied by a particular ethnicity (or nation).
Sovere­ignty - indepe­ndence from control of its internal affairs by other states

Deeper Unders­tan­dings

Territ­ori­ality are attempts to control pieces of the Earth's surface. The study of this has led to geopol­itics, the study of the spatial and territ­orial dimensions of power.
The first states were city-s­tates in the Fertile Crescent. These early states were comprised of a city and the surrou­nding countr­yside.
A major influence in recent times has been self-d­ete­rmi­nation, the concept that ethnic­ities have a right to govern themse­lves. This has fueled aspira­tions in stateless nations like the Kurds who identify as a unique nation but do not have a state of their own.
States that comprise multiple ethnic­ities are multi-­ethnic states. If these ethnic­ities have histories of self-g­ove­rnance, it is considered a multi-­nat­ional state. Multin­ational states are common in regions with superi­mposed boundaries such as Africa, and are inherently less stable than nation­-st­ates.
Irrede­ntism is the annexation of territ­ories belonging to another state on grounds of common ethnicity or historical posses­sion.


The process of redrawing legisl­ative boundaries for the purpose of benefi­tting the party in power is called gerrym­and­ering.

Wasted vote spreads opposition supporters across many districts but in the minority.
Excess vote concen­trates opposition supported into a few districts.
Stacked vote links distant areas of like minded voters through oddly shaped boundaries

Boundary Disputes

There are 4 primary types of boundary disputes.

Positional disputes are arguments over where the border actually is (ex: historical Texas boundary with Mexico)
Territ­orial disputes are arguments over who owns a region (ex: Kashmir)
Resource disputes are arguments over natural resources that lie in border areas (ex: Iraq-K­uwait oil disputes prior to Persian Gulf War)
Functional disputes are arguments over what policies should govern a border region (ex: current US-Mexico border disputes)

Government Classi­fic­ations

States are classified as a democracy when citizens can elect leaders and run for office. They are classified as an autocracy when the state is non-de­moc­ratic and ran in the interests of the leader. An anocracy is a mixture of the two forms. Democr­acies are notable for their democratic selection of leaders, citizen partic­ipation in the political process, and checks and balances within the govern­ment.

States are classified as unitary if they concen­trate power into a single central govern­ment. States are considered federal if they divide the power between the central government and regional sub-units. Confederal states attempt to spread the power between the sub-units while mainta­ining a weak central govern­ment, but there are no lasting examples of this today.

Democr­ati­zation describes the reality that the world is becoming more democr­atic. We are currently in the 3rd Wave of Democr­ati­zation (1st - Developed naturally over time; 2nd - Decolo­niz­ation; 3rd - Collapse of dictat­orial rulers)


Ratzel - State is like a living organism, with a birth, death, and predic­table rise & fall of power
Heartland (Macki­nder) - Control of the Eurasian "­pivot area" would give a country the natural and human resources necessary to dominate the world
Rimland (Spykman) - Eurasian rim the key to global power. Because this area is so vast and diverse, it was unlikely to fall under one state's control, thus mainta­ining a global balance of power

Boundaries & Shapes

Physical boundaries include mountain, water, and desert bounda­ries. Cultural boundaries include geometric boundaries (straight lines on the map) and ethnic boundaries (diffe­rences in religion, language, etc)

Compact states are efficient because the distance from the center to any side of the state is roughly equal, allowing for good commun­ica­tions.
Elongated states are long and narrow, but may suffer from commun­cation and transp­ort­ation problems.
Prorupted states appear compact except for a large projecting extension. This extension either grants the state access to a resource or divides two other states.
Perforated states completely surround another state (ex: South Africa)
Fragmented states are divided geogra­phi­cally. This can create diffic­ulties in govern­ment, trade, and travel.

States that lack access to the ocean are considered landlocked. States with very small territ­ories and popula­tions are known as micros­tates.

Supran­ational Organi­zations

States group together into supran­ational organi­zations - cooper­ating groups of states that operate on either a regional or intern­ational level
United Nations (UN) - 193 states as members, serves as a platform for dialogue between countries. All UN members sit in the General Assembly, but 15 sit on the Security Council, which is the only body that can authorize military force. 5 countries (USA, UK, France, Russia, China) have permanent seats on the SC and also hold veto power.
NATO - Military alliance initially designed by the USA to prevent the spread of communism
Warsaw Pact - Mutual­-de­fense alliance between Eastern European satellite states and Soviet Union. Now defunct.
COMECON - Promote trade amongst communist states. Now defunct.
European Union (EU) - Initially formed to help Western Europe recover from WW2. Expansion has included majority of Eastern Europe. Key goals are economic and political cooper­ation. The EU has moved towards integr­ation, with members pooling their sovere­ignty to gain collective political, economic, and social power (ex: unified monetary policy - introd­uction of the Euro)

Other organi­zations include the Organi­zation of American States, Organi­zation on Security and Cooper­ation in Europe, the African Union, Arab League, and the British Common­wealth.

Forces on States

Centri­petal forces bind together the people of a state, making them stronger. Examples might include a common religion, common language, schools, or nation­alism (loyalty to ones nation).

Centri­fugal forces destab­ilize a government and encourage a state to fall apart. Examples might include differ­ences in religion, ethnicity, and language. Separatist movements represent one of these forces, where nation­alities demand indepe­ndence from the state.

As a reaction to some centri­fugal forces, states might resort to devolution, transf­erring power from the central government to regional govern­ments in an attempt to appease the unhappy group.

Last few terms

Terrorism - the systematic use of violence by a group in order to intimidate a population or coerce a government into granting its demand
Politi­ciz­ation of Religion - the use of religious principles to promote political ends and vice versa
An enclave is a landlocked piece of territory that is separated from the rest of the state. An exclave is similar, but lies on a coast rather than being landlo­cked.
Sometimes physical barriers such as mountain ranges create shatte­rbelts, or zones of great cultural comple­xity, because groups are able to retain unique identities due to their relative isolation.
A colony is a territory that is legally tied to a different state, rather than being sovereign.


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