AP Human Political Geography

What is a state?

an area organized into a political unit and ruled by an established government that has control over its internal and foreign affairs

What is a country?

a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory.

What is the status of countries today?

1940s - only about 50 countries �> Today there are over 200; Russia is the largest nation; Vatican is the smallest nation

What are the challenges defining states?

States have sovereignty (independence from controls of its internal affairs by other states; there is some controversy over some states and their sovereignty

Is Korea one state or two?

Korea was a colony of Japan but after WWII it was divided between the US and USSR; USSR - North - Communist; US - South - Democratic; Both want control and are still technically divided; North is one of the poorest and most isolated nations in the world;

China and Taiwan: One State or Two?

Most countries consider them as separate nations; According to China, Taiwan is not sovereign but part of China; Communists have the UN seat

What is a nation-state?

A state whose territory corresponds to that occupied by a particular ethnicity that has been transformed into a nationality

Development of States

Traced to the Fertile Crescent; the 1st states were city-states (sovereign states that comprised a town and the surrounding countryside); Walls surrounded the town (served as outer line of defense) - city controlled the agricultural land

Medieval States

Fall of Roman Empire and New Kings rise; European portion became fragmented into a large number of competing monarchs; became the basis for modern states; England, France and Spain

States in 20th Century

Following WWII, Allies created nation-states using language as the criterion for identifying ethnic groups; self determination-> concept that ethnicities have the right to govern themselves

Multiethnic and Multinational States

11 of the 18 states with the least ethnic diversity are in Europe; 18 of the 20 most ethically diverse states are in Africa

Multiethnic state

A state that contains more than one ethnicity. Every state is a varying degree of multiethnic.

Multicultural State

State that contains more than one ethnicity with traditions of self determination and self government

Multiethnic Revival in Europe

Some multicultural states break up into smaller states; Czechoslovakia �> Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 (peaceful); Yugoslavia �> broke up in part due to ethnic cleansing

Russia: Largest Multinational State

In 1922-1991 the USSR was the world's largest state in land area and multinational state �> now Russia is the largest in both categories


A territory that is legally tied to a sovereign state rather than completely independent; UN identifies 17 places that are "non self governing territories" �> all but Western Sahara are islands


Attempt by one country to establish settlements and to impose its political, economic, and cultural principles in another territory. Europeans established these for 3 reasons (God, Gold, Glory); The largest empire in history - "sun never sets on the Briti


invisible lines that mark the extent of a state's territory and the control that its leaders have

3 types of boundaries

Cultural, Geometric, Physical; Cultural - follow the distribution of cultural features; Geometric - based on human constraints, such as straight lines; Physical - coincide with significant features on the natural landscape; many boundaries are a combinati

Religious Boundaries

Ireland - divided into 2 nations with Northern Ireland mainly Protestant (41% Catholic); majority of the island is mainly Catholic and became independent in 1921 (84% Catholic)

ethnic boundary

Cyprus - gained independence in 1960 from the British; 1974 - a wall was built to separate the 2 which has caused them to become isolated from each other

geometric boundary

Oregon - border b/w US and Canada is a 1,300 miles long straight line (Minnesota to Washington); South Pole - 7 states claim land in Antarctica many states do not recognize these claims

Physical Boundaries

boundaries created with naturally occurring features; Deserts - can be effective b/c a desert is hard to cross and is sparsely inhabited; Mountains - common and effective boundary (set at connecting adjacent mountain peaks); Water - rivers, lakes and ocea

The Law of The Sea

Law establishing states rights and responsibilities concerning the ownership and use of the earth's seas and oceans and their resources.; Territorial waters - 12 nautical miles (14 miles) - may set laws regulating passage, Contiguous zone - 12-24 nautical

Shapes of States

Compact states, elongated states, protruded states, perforated states, fragmented states.

Compact State Shape

a state in which the distance from the center to any boundary does not vary significantly - good communication

Elongated State Shape

Has a long narrow shape (Chile - 2,500 miles long but 90 miles at its widest point/isolation

Protruded State Shape

Compact state with a large projecting extension (can be done to gain access to water source)

Perforated State

a state that completely surrounds another one; Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa; may be dependent on surrounding state for resources

Fragmented State Shape

A state that includes several discontinuous pieces of territory. Ex. Indonesia - hinders communication


A state that does not have a direct outlet to the sea. 15 states UN Africa and 48 total in the world

Governing States

Each state has 2 types of government (national and local); Democracy - citizens elect leaders and can run for office; Autocracy - run according to the interests of the ruler than the people; Anocracy - not fully democratic or fully autocratic (mix of the


Concept where a sovereign state delegates powers to lower levels (National -> State -> Local)

local scale: unitary and federal states

Unitary-places most power in the hands of the central govt. officials; smaller countries are likely to use this (requires effective communication with all regions); works well with few cultural differences and a strong sense of nationalism (ex. Japan, Spa

Electoral Government

Boundaries are periodically redrawn to ensure each district has roughly the same population; 435 US Representative districts are redrawn every 10 years after the census; sometimes they are redrawn to benefit a particular party (Gerrymandering - declared i

Global Cooperation and Competition

UN - most important global forum for cooperation; created after WWII by the Allies; 1945 with 51 original members, 2011 with 193 nations; 5 permanent members - China, France, Russia, UK and US

Cold War

The US and USSR established military bases in areas that were not contiguous to their own territory; maintain strength UN the regain and balance of power; Bipolar during the Cold War - US and USSR most powerful which forced other nations to join one side

Competition and Cooperation in Europe

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - military alliance among 16 democratic states (US, Canada + 14 European nations); Warsaw Pact - military agreement among Communist Eastern European states
** these maintained the bipolar balance of power in Europ

European Union

Main task is to promote development within the member states though economic and political cooperation; European Central Bank was given responsibility for setting interest rates and minimizing inflation in the Eurozone - Euro: 25 states use the Euro (unif


The systematic use of violence by a group calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm among a population or to coerce a government into actions it would not otherwise undertake or refrain from actions it wants to take. Aimed at ordinary people ra

Terrorism in the US

1993 - car bomb detonated in the basement of the WTC (6 dead and ~1,000 injured)
1995 - car bomb detonated outside the Alfred P Murray Fed Bldg in Oklahoma; Timothy McVeigh; 168 killed
2013 - Boston Marathon Bombing; Dzhakhar Tsarnaev; 3 dead and more tha


2,977 civilian casualties; 4 airliners were hijacked and flown into the North and South Towers of the WTC and the Pentagon

Terrorist Organization

Al Qaeda - Osama bin Laden founder in 1990
Boko Haram - Founded in 2002 in Eastern Nigeria; seeks to transform Nigeria into an Islamic state; opposes Western culture; allied itself with US in 2014
IRA - unofficial nation its military organization that see

State Support for Terrorism


Sanctuary for Terrorists

US invaded Afghanistan for their role in harboring Al Qaeda, including bin Laden; gained power in 1995; imposed strict Islamic law on its population; US searched for decade for bin Laden - eventually found in 2011 in Pakistan and killed in May

Supplying Terrorists

Desert Storm was supported by almost all UN nations due to unjustified invasion of Kuwait; in contrast, few countries supported our invasion of Iraq in 2003; we invaded due to our belief that Hussein had WMDs as well as links to Al Qaeda

State Terrorist Attacks: Libya

Planted a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 which killed 270 in 1988; Muhammad Al-Qaddaf was the longtime leader of Libya; renounced terrorism in 2003 and compensated victims of the flight; attacked protestors in 2011 which ultimately brought him down - he was ca


A concept that describes a region that is highly fragmented as a result if internal divisiveness and of the external great powers in pursuit of their own interests (cultural boundaries) - ex. Balkans/Caucasus


Colonialism - establishing control in order to use resources within the colony vs Imperialism - simply using military power to take possession of another area

Heartland Theory

Idea that whomever controls Eastern Europe and Western Asia has the political power and capital to rule the world (Mackinder)

Rimland Theory

Nicholas Spykman's theory that the domination of the coastal fringes of Eurasia would provided the base for world conquest.

Domino Theory

A theory that if one nation comes under Communist control, then neighboring nations will also come under Communist control.

Territorial Morphology

The shape of a state influences how effectively the government can control the territory


Antecedent: boundary drawn prior to an area becoming largely important/populated (Malaysia/Indonesia - border between)
Superimposed: boundary made through colonization that took little regard for ethnic groups (Africa)
Subsequent: boundary drawn with rega


Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries