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Chapter 8. Key Issue 2 Why Do Boundaries Cause Problems?. Shapes of States. The shape of a state determines the length of its boundaries with other states, as well as potential communication and conflict with neighboring states.

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chapter 8

Chapter 8

Key Issue 2

Why Do Boundaries Cause Problems?

shapes of states
Shapes of States
  • The shape of a state determines the length of its boundaries with other states, as well as potential communication and conflict with neighboring states.
  • Rounded countries with a central capital city like Poland, are compact states. This shape enhances communications between all regions especially when the capital is centrally located.
  • Prorupted states are compact states with a large projecting extension. Proruptions can disrupt, like the Afghanistan proruption which denies Russia a shared boundary with Pakistan.
  • Proruptions can also provide access such as Namibia’s proruption, which was originally designed to give this former German colony access to the Zambezi River in southwest Africa.
  • Elongated states, such as Chile and Gambia, are long and thin. Such states often suffer from poor internal communications.
shapes of states cont
Shapes of States cont.
  • A state that is divided into several discontinuous pieces of territory is called a fragmented state.
  • The United States is fragmented because Alaska is separated from the contiguous lower 48 states.
  • Kaliningrad is separated from the rest of Russia by the independent states of Lithuania and Belarus.
  • Island states like Indonesia are fragmented because of water.
  • In addition, some states have fragmented territory that lies completely within the boundary of another state. An enclave is a piece of territory that is surrounded by another political unit of which it is not a part. Lesotho is an enclave because it is completely surrounded by South Africa.
  • States like Italy and South Africa that completely surround other states are known as perforated states. The states that are completely surrounded, such as Lesotho by South Africa, are also landlocked states that lack access to the ocean or sea.
  • The various shapes of states provide both advantages and disadvantages. Some states occupy strategically important locations on the Earth’s surface. This is true of Singapore on the tip of Malaysia in Southeast Asia, and Panama on the isthmus between North and South America.
types of boundaries
Types of Boundaries
  • States are separated from each other by borders, called boundaries. A boundary is an invisible line that completely surrounds a state, marks the outer limits of its territorial control, and gives it a distinctive shape.
  • Prior to the establishment of formal boundaries, frontiers separated states. A frontier is a zone or area between states where no state exercises complete control.
  • Frontiers do still exist between states on the Arabian Peninsula, where the borders are virtually uninhabited desert regions.
  • Physical boundaries follow important physical features on the landscape, such as water, mountains and deserts. Physical boundaries are often antecedent boundaries because they were natural boundaries long before those areas became populated.
cultural boundaries
Cultural Boundaries
  • There are a number of different types of cultural boundaries between states. Geometric boundaries follow straight lines and have little to do with the physical or cultural landscape.
  • The boundaries between many African states today are geometric. They are also called superimposed boundaries because they were drawn by European colonial powers that did not pay any attention to the existing ethnic boundaries between African people.
  • When British India became independent in 1948, the boundary that was created between the newly independent states of India and Pakistan was essentially a religious boundary. It separated a predominantly Muslim Pakistan from a predominantly Hindu India.
  • Language boundaries have always been important cultural boundaries between ethnic groups.
  • There are now accepted maritime boundaries in the world’s oceans. As a result of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), each state with an ocean boundary has a 12-mile territorial sea, and a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) over which it has certain economic rights.
  • The pressures for independence within a multinational state from various ethnic groups are also known as devolution or devolutionary pressures. These pressures are also referred to as centrifugal forces because they pull countries apart.
boundaries inside states
Boundaries Inside States
  • The governments of states are generally organized in one of two ways. Unitary states place most power in the hands of the central government and work best in relatively small nation-states.
  • Federal states allocate significant power to units of local government and work well in multinational states where there is potential ethnic conflict. The United States is a federal state, not so much because of ethnic conflict but because of its sheer geographic size.
  • The boundaries separating legislative districts in the United States and other countries have to be redrawn from time to time to account for changing population.
  • For example, the 435 districts of the U.S. House of Representatives are redrawn after the census every 10 years.
  • This is called reapportionment or redistricting. In most U.S. states this is done by the state legislature and historically the political party in control has tried to do this.
  • The redrawing of legislative boundaries to benefit a specific political party in power is called gerrymandering. The term was named for Elbridge Gerry, a 19th century politician from Massachusetts who tried to do this in his state creating an oddly shaped district that looked like a salamander and that his opponents called a “gerrymander.”
boundaries inside states cont
Boundaries Inside States cont.
  • There are three types of gerrymandering. “Wasted votes” spreads opposition supporters across many districts. “Excess votes” concentrates opposition in few districts, and “stacked votes” links distant areas of similar voters through oddly shaped boundaries.
  • Although the Supreme Court has ruled gerrymandering illegal, stacked vote gerrymandering is still a reality.