AP Human Geography
Test Review
Political Geography
• State – any area with a defined territory that exercises its sovereign
control over areas both inside and outside its borders
– Earth is divided into about 200 countries (states)
• In past 100 years, number of states has increased by over 100
• Territorial Organization – states organized into a geographically based
hierarchy of local government agencies
– Serve the functions of (1) efficiently delegating administrative function in
what may otherwise be large and unwieldy area, (2) can allocate resources
through local agencies that may be more in touch with the needs of the
people in their jurisdiction, and (3) usually give their local territory some
degree of autonomy (ability to enact laws, police their lands, and tax local
• Commonwealth – territory that has established a mutual agreement with
another state for the benefit of both parties
• Colony – territory that is legally tied to a sovereign state rather than being
completely independent
– Control of the colony varies
• Colonialism – effort by one country to establish settlements and to
impose its political, economic, and cultural principles on a territory
States - Colonies
European states established colonies for 3 reasons
European missionaries established colonies to promote Christianity
Colonies provided resources that helped the economy of European states
European states considered the number of colonies to be an indicator of relative power
“Sun never set” on the British Empire
Summarized as “God, gold, and glory”
Imperialism – control of territory already occupied and organized by an
indigenous society
United Kingdom had largest empire
• Colonial practices of European states varied
• France attempted to assimilate colonies into French culture – not so successful
• Britain created different government structures and policies depending on the
– Decentralized approach helped to protect diverse cultures, local customs, and educational
– Most colonies made peaceful transition to independence
• Nearly all in Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea
– Puerto Rico is most populous remaining colony
• Commonwealth of the United States
• 4 million residents
– France’s French Polynesia, Mayotte, and New Caledonia; the Netherlands’ Netherlands
Antilles; and the United States’ Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands are colonies with
population between 100,000 and 300,000
– Least populated colony – Pitcairn Island (United Kingdom) – 47 people
States - Colonies
• Colonialism – practice of establishing political dominance over
a people for economic, political, and territorial gain
• Organic Theory – created by political geographer Friedrich
– State was like a living entity that constantly needed to grow to thrive –
states constantly need new territory to meet the demands of their evergrowing population
• Religious Colonialism – conducted by numerous religions
– Christianity and Islam
• Economic Colonialism- quest for wealth
– European colonists sought wealth (gold, furs, etc.)
– Colonies expected to provide resources for the home country needed
to sustain itself
• Self-Determinism – power of a people to establish their own
government the way that they see it
– Former colonies would rather see chaotic conditions ruled by member
so their own country than peaceful conditions ruled by colonial power
Types of Empires
• The Land Empire – involves conquest by force
– Armies attack, pillage, and plunder their way through
another land, taking resources by force
• Ex. Spanish employed empire tactics in Mexico
• The Sea Empire – used sea power to control area
– Settlements established along coast, and excursions into the
interior brought loot back to these settlement, where ship
would be waiting to take resources back to home country
• The Settlement Empire – intended to stay long time
– Once settlement established, colonists sent resources back
to home country
– Colony expected to become independent and eventually
pay back home country
• Primarily used by the British and French
States - Government
Types of Government
• Unitary State – places most power in the hands of central government officials
– Unitary government systems works best (in theory) in nation-states with few internal
cultural differences
– In reality, multinational states use unitary systems so the values of on nationality can
be imposed on others
• Some African countries (Rwanda, Ghana, and Kenya) have done so on ethnic group could
dominate another
• Eastern European countries used unitary systems go promote the diffusion of Communist values
• Federal State – allocates strong power to units of local government within the
• Governments bestow autonomous powers upon their local territories
• Local governments posses more authority to adopt their own laws
• Ability to empower different nationalities – especially if they live in different
– Boundaries can be drawn by regional ethnicities
• More suitable for larger states – national capital may too remote to effectively
• Size of federal states varies
– Larger states include Russia, Canada, India, and U.S.
– Belgium is federal state = two cultural groups
• How to delegate authority in a federalist country has crucial implications for
everything from tax collection , to the use of natural resources
Electoral Geography
• Reapportionment (redistricting) – Boundaries separating
legislative districts redrawn periodically to ensure each
district has approximately same population
– Boundaries of U.S. House of Representatives redrawn every 10
years – following the census
• Most European countries use independent commissions to
redraw district boundaries
• Most U.S. states use the state legislature – giving the political
party in power to redraw districts
• Gerrymandering – process of redrawing legislative
boundaries for the purpose of benefiting the party in power
Three types of gerrymandering
“Wasted Vote” – spreads opposition supporters across many districts,
but in the minority
“Excess Vote” – concentrates opposition supporters into a few districts
“Stacked Vote” – links distant areas of like-minded voters through
oddly shaped boundaries
Florida & Georgia
Fig. 8-11: State legislature boundaries
were drawn to maximize the
number of legislators for
Republicans in Florida and
Democrats in Georgia.
Gerrymandering – drawing voting districts to benefit one
group over another.
districts drawn so
that the majority of
the population in the
district is from the
Nation and Nation-State
• Nation – Term encompassing all the citizens of a state –
refer to tightly knit group of people possessing bonds of
language, ethnicity, religion, and other shared cultural
– Many people becoming more loyal to their nation, rather than
their state
• Ex. Al-Qaeda – left behind loyalty to the states in which they are citizens,
pledging their allegiance to Al-Qaeda – forming a nation
– Usually nations are located within the borders of a state
• Examples – Koreans, Hmong, Kurds, Basques, Flemish, Walloons, and
• Many want their own state, but conflict can arise with two nations
competing a geographic area
• Nation-State – recognized political unit wherein territorial
state coincides with the area settled by a certain group of
people – corresponds with particular ethnicity that has been
transformed into a nationality
– Examples = Japan and Denmark
• Sovereignty – ability of a state to regulate their own internal and external
• Some continue to struggle with sovereignty
– Kurds – one of largest nationalities in the world without a state
• Located in Turkey, northern Iran, and northern Iraq with some in Armenia and Azerbaijan
• Most Kurds have own language and practice Islam
– Basques – independent group in Pyrenees Mountains
• Majority live in Spain with some in Andorra and southwestern France
• Basques have their own language (Euskara) and desire to have their own nation-state
called Euskal Herria
– Flemish – live in the north of Belgium
• Official language is Flemish (Common Dutch) and religion (Roman Catholic)
• Distinct from Walloons in language (French) and religion (Protestant)
• Desire own nation-state called Flanders
– Zulu – live in eastern South Africa
• Apartheid – white minority ruled South Africa, Zulus forced to occupy low status –
suffering discrimination in all aspects of life
• Zulus have their own language (isiZulu) desire to have own homeland (KwaNdeebele)
– Palestinians – live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights of Israel
• Palestinians fled to other countries after Israel created in 1948
• Most practice Islam, speak Arabic – desire to create state called Palestine
Fig. 8-2: Antarctica is the only
large land mass that is
not part of a state, but
several countries claim
portions of it.
Political Organization of Space
• Governments usually create organizations to assist with their interactions
with other countries
– Embassies – offices represent U.S. interests to the leadership of other
– Ambassadors – lead officials representing the U.S. in other countries
– Consulates – secondary offices that usually deal with economic issues as
well as the granting of visas to enter their home countries
• Other political geography terms
– Satellite states – under the control of the Soviet Union – created a cultural
wall (Iron Curtain)
– Iron Curtain – divided democratic, capitalist Western Europe from
totalitarian, communist Eastern Europe
– Shatterbelt regions – regions caught up in the conflict between two
• Boundaries often changed – Vietnam and Korea
– Buffer state – country that lies between two other states, but remains neutral
in the conflict between them
• Mongolia between China and Soviet Union
– Supranational Organization – separate entity composed of three or more
states that forge an association and form an administrative structure for
mutual benefit in pursuit of shared goals
Geopolitical Theories
• Heartland Theory – Halford MacKinder wrote “The Geographical Pivot of
– Suggests that whoever owns Eastern Europe and Western Asia has the political power
and capital to rule the world
• Eastern Europe contained one of the richest agricultural regions in the world – sustain a large
• Also contained abundant raw materials (coal) needed to develop strong military and industrial
• Adolph Hitler believed in this theory – which is why he attempted to invade/conquer Eastern
• Rimland Theory – Nicholas Spykman wrote in “The Geography of Peace” –
was known as the “godfather of containment”
– Believed in forming alliances is necessary to keep Heartland in check (no individual
country could contain by itself
– Rimland theory would control the sea
• Domino Theory – adopted by U.S. in 1960s – 1970s
– When one country experiences rebellion or political disunity, other countries around it
will also experience turmoil as a result, leading to a domino effect of political
• Established in response to the communist incursions that had been occurring around the world
• Irredentism – the attempt by one country to provoke coups or separatist
movements in another country
Rimland Theory
Heartland Theory
- Heartland is also
known as the pivot
Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces
• Centripetal Forces – forces that tend to unite a
– Includes strong national institutions, sense of common
history, and a reliance on strong central government
• Examples include flags, anthem, other acts of patriotism
– Centripetal forces can be positive and negative
• Positive when supporting or pulling a nation together
• Negative when nationalistic ideas place individual nations
above all others (usually with militaristic regimes, power
hungry leaders, and racist ideologies)
• Centrifugal Forces – forces that pull a state apart
– Include ideas of regionalism, ethnic strife, and
territorial disputes
– Include language, religion, ethnicity, and ideology
Political forces and Ideologies
• Balkanization – political process by which a state may break up into
smaller countries
– Occurs when enclaves develop with their own ethnic identities, or when central
governments increasingly devolve administrative authority to their constituent
• Former Soviet Union, former Yugoslavia
• Devolution – Giving up of power by the central or federal government to
the different regions of the country
– The process whereby regions within a state demand and gain political strength
and growing autonomy at the expense of the central government
– Devolutionary pressures result in increased autonomy for a region. If strong
enough, these devolutionary pressures may result in complete balkanization
• Supranationalism – method of extending state borders through the
assistance and/or establishment of other organizations to further economic
and/or political cooperation
– Ex. European Union (EU)
• United into one organized unit for the purpose of increasing individual strength through
collective efforts
• Democratization – transition to a more democratic political government
– Existence of competitive election that are free, regular, and fair
– Three waves of democratization
Ethnocultural Devolutionary
Eastern Europe Devolutionary
forces since the fall
of communism
Immanuel WallersteIn’s
World-Systems Theory:
1. The world economy has one market and a global
division of labor.
2. Although the world has multiple states, almost
everything takes place within the context of the
world economy.
3. The world economy has a three-tier structure.
Construction of the World Economy
– Capitalism – people, corporations, and states produce goods
and services and exchange them in the world market, with
the goal of achieving profit.
– Commodification – the process of placing a price on a good
and then buying, selling, and trading the good.
– Colonialism – brought the world into the world economy,
setting up an interdependent global economy.
Three Tier Structure
Processes that incorporate higher
levels of education, higher
salaries, and more technology
* Generate more wealth in the
world economy
Processes that incorporate lower
levels of education, lower
salaries, and less technology
* Generate less wealth in the world
Places where core and periphery
processes are both occurring.
Places that are exploited by the
core but then exploit the
* Serves as a buffer between core
and periphery

AP Human Geography Test Review