Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

Geography is not destiny, but it is a very strong influence. Location and natural borders have played a large role in the destiny of empires and the shape of the world today. Iran/Persia has had a very logical border on the Iranian plateau. It has been one of the longest lived civilizations. Egypt had an easily navigable river base and was protected on other sides. This facilitated a stable empire. Mesopotamia was not so well protected and was the site of regular churn. Europe is fairly dense with a huge amount of coastline and that has contributed to their maritime prowess. 

While some borders are natural, others are artificial. Most of the borders in Africa were arbitrarily drawn. The northern and southern borders of the United States are also fairly arbitrary. Northern Mexico is fairly well separated from southern Mexico, but very connected to the US. Some argue that the border region could choose to form its own country. The residents are different from other immigrants in that they can argue that they once occupied this area. 

India also has overlapping culture and borders. Pakistan and Bangladesh have both been part of India, but have been separated. Other countries, like Nepal and Afghanistan have also historically been part of the India sphere of influence. 

Geography has allowed growth and knowledge dissemination to take place in various regions. Eurasia is oriented east-west, with similar climate zones stretched over long ranges. This allows similar agricultural technologies to spread over fast ranges. South America and Africa are north-south oriented, and thus have much more limited climate bands. Africa also has areas such as the Sahara that further block connections.

The book has an interesting story of the influence of geography and politics. I was hoping for a broader argument, but the narrow approach did have some good points.

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