According to Figure 8-1, page 54 of the Blij and Muller text, there are twelve language groups and forty-nine languages that currently exist in Europe.
Immediately after the Second World War, the country of Yugoslavia contained six social republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
The terms "nation" and "nation-state" encompass to all citizens of a particular country. Nation refers to a group of people who share various cultural attributes such as history, language, ethnic origins, and religion. When the territorial state coincides with the area settles by a certain national group it is referred to as a "nation-state" and represents the ideal form of political unit. The population of the country has a significant degree of cultural homogeneity and unity creating a solid unit with little possibility of political devolution. The vivid example can be drawn from the state of Czechoslovakia. Before the division it was a country that combined two separate nations united by the communist ideology and cultural ties they possessed. After the split, Czechoslovakia became two separate nation-states: Czech Republic and Slovakia. The two countries returned to their original territories to house their nations' people creating fairly harmonious political units.
The country of Belgium would be likely to undergo the political devolution in the near future because of the inner conflicts between the Flemings and the Walloons. The Flemings make up the majority of the Belgian population and speak Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, while the Walloons comprise the minority and have a spoken language of French. The difference in language, however, is not the main concern but rather the dissatisfaction that those two have with each other. The Flemish side feels that the Walloons contribute less to the economy of the nation, pay less tax, and have a tendency to go on strike more often. The Walloons, in turn, feel underrepresented and ignored in the decision making processes. However, the separation is very unlikely as there's a third and central region of the country, the Brussels region. Both sides want it as the part of their future countries but both are unwilling to engage in any armed confrontation over it.
The country of Belarus is shaded differently from other countries in Europe due to the fact that it's the only country on the map that is not a member of the European Union nor does it strive to become a part of the latter. However, the country has an invitation from the EU to join on several conditions such as "reform to legal and judicial system to ensure the equal rights to all", "improve[ment of] the quality of environment: water quality, waste treatment, continued support to deal with the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster", and "participation in Europe-wide cooperation on environment, health, food safety standards, working conditions, aviation safety, judicial cooperation etc. through participation in European programmes and agencies" (http:// ec.europa.eu/ external relations/ Belarus / intro /non_paper_1106.pdf) to name just a few. However, the policies of the current president and his government restrict the possibilities of cooperation between Belarus and European Union. The country, despite numerous attempts from the EU side to encourage the partnership, has no intention to join in a near future. Belarus has strong cultural, economic, and political ties with neighbouring Russia where its influences come from.
Great Britain contains England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It needs strong centripetal forces to keep the country from undergoing devolution. At this time, such forces are shared religion, common history, and language. Political organization could be considered a centripetal force as well. However, currently employed constitutional monarchy can also be viewed as centrifugal force as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland express their desire to become autonomous with their own political systems, independent from England.
In order to understand the reason for the partitioning of Cyprus, one must know the history and value of the island to the countries involved in the dispute. Blij and Muller text states that Cyprus lies in the far northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, much closer to Turkey than Greece, but peopled dominantly by Greeks rather than Turks (Blij and Muller 2006:90). After centuries of Turkish rule, the island was overtaken by the British who were willing to give Cyprus its independence after World war Two. However, the Greek majority wanted a union with Greece, so after much debate, the independence was finally awarded in 1960 on terms to guarantee the minority rights under the ruling majority. The peace was short-lived as in 1974 the Greek military junta organized a coup d'tat which aimed to assassinate the President at the time. The event provoked the Turkish government to invade the island under the claim of danger for the Turkish minority. They overlooked the fact that the coup was an attempt to overthrow the president not to attack or endanger the lives of the civilian population. So, after the arrival of the Turkish troops, the civil war broke out which, in turn, resulted in the partitioning of the island into northern Turkish and southern Greek sectors (Blij and Muller 2006:91). To this day, the island of Cyprus remains partitioned due to several factors. First, the Republic of Cyprus became a constitutional monarchy and has reached great economic and political heights while Northern Cyprus lives off the help from Turkey and is unable to sustain its own independence. Second, the issues of human rights and freedom of speech have surfaced as Northern Cyprus is not keeping up to date with humane politics and practices and does not have laws in place to protect the vulnerable sector. Lastly, the "Green Line" that separates the Turkish and Greek communities constitutes not just a regional border but a boundary between geographic realms (Blij and Muller 2006:91). So, it is, in a sense, easier and more practical for the two to remain divided rather than try to fuse together.
The population distribution in Siberia is fragmented; strips of Russian settlements have developed mainly along the major rivers such as the Yenisei River and the upper Lena Valley. The north-south distribution of the population came to be as a result of the unique climate conditions and remote location of the region. Therefore, Siberia is behind the rest of the country when it comes to the economic and sociological developments. But with building of Trans-Siberian Railway the population has been increased as the settlements started to form along the railways. Also, in the river valleys there are plenty of natural resources to provide the settlers with gas, water, and food, but, mainly, work. Gold, diamonds, other precious metals, oil, natural gas, and hydroelectric power have been discovered and developed and, thus, have increased the population density. People started to move into the region due to the fact that work and living conditions took a turn for the better (Blij and Muller2006: 137-138).
Distance decay is important to take into account when talking about Russia because of the size of the country. Russia is the largest country in the world and distance is the significant factor in the relationship between the capital and the outlying areas. Furthermore, Moscow lies in the far west of the country, half a world away from the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It makes the communication between the capital and regional centers or between just regional centers quite difficult and creates problems in timelines and deadlines of projects.
The "heartland thesis" was introduced by Sir Halford Mackinder in 1904. The idea expressed by the most prominent British geographers of the era, states that the ability to efficiently administer the Eurasian heartland would give the controlling state decisive influence over the global developmental agenda. Concurrently, maintaining stability in the Eurasian heartland would go long way toward determining global security conditions (Re-examining Old Concepts, Igor Trebakov). Therefore, Russia has always been interested in establishing dominance on the continent. The country has a long history of taking over smaller regions and countries in order to attain the control. It is important to remember that while USSR still existed as did the Cold War with the United States, Russia was one of the powers in control of the region. It occupied the vast majority of the continent and therefore brought its own agenda to the sub-republics. However, when the Soviet Union came to an end, the new hope arose in those believing that Russia could join its ideological adversaries in a regional partnership. Such forecasts were based on real as well as idealized evidence: Russians' ethnic ties with Eastern Europe; the revival of Christian churches after decades of communist atheism; the sprouting of Russian democracy; the budding of a market economy; the long-term dependence of Europe on Russian energy supplies (Blij and Muller 2006: 127). So, even though Russia does have ties with the rest of the Europe and world, it still has its sights set on the dominance of the Eurasian heartland. All of the former USSR republics still contain the population that is dominantly Russian and Russia has strong economic and political ties with all of them. And, in order to understand the importance of the "heartland thesis" in Russian political geography one must remember that the main agenda of the President is not diversifying the country's economy, nor is it strengthening the newly acquired democracy but rather returning of the status of a super power. Therefore, Russia will maintain its own agenda and course of action that will solidify its dominance in the region and later in the world.
According to several sources, the population of Russia has been on the steady decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. When the Soviet Union broke apart, the Russian Republic had a population of almost 150 million and still growing, albeit, slowly. By 2006 it was down to just over 142 million (Blij and Muller 2006: 126). During that time, Russia is in the process of modernization which entails political upheaval and economic changes and the demographic transition. Those resulted in the decline in life expectancy for the Russian population. The downturn in the economy resulted in the large percentage of the population forced to live below the poverty line which led to malnutrition, alcohol and drug abuse, mental disorders and heavy smoking. Also, the spread of tuberculosis, rise of heart disease rates, HIV and AIDS rise are all among the contributing factors of the rapid decline in Russia's population. Poor living conditions are not solely responsible for the decline. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia sees a drastic increase in immigration. Many skilled workers are leaving the country to seek employment elsewhere as there is a dramatic increase in unemployment. And lastly, a long history of Soviet ecological abuse has planted still unquantifiable seeds of demographic decline throughout the population, especially in areas of concentrated industry, military installations, and intensive agriculture.
It can be seen on the map that only small percentage of Canada can be classified as its ecumene - the inhabitable zone of permanent settlement (Blij and Muller 2006: 170). The United States, on the other hand, is heavily populated but the distribution of the population is uneven. The majority of the people live in ten states. The 10 most populous States contained 54 percent of the population in 2000. California, with 33.9 million people, was the most populous one, accounting for 12 percent of the nation's population. The second and third most populous States -- Texas, at 20.9 million people, and New York, at 19.0 million-- together accounted for 14 percent of the U.S. population. The next seven most populous States -- Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and Georgia --contained an additional 28 percent of the population. The 10 most populous States are distributed among all four regions: three each in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the South, with one in the West (http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/). In Canada, the ecumene is dominated by a discontinuous strip of population clusters that lines the southern border. Such clusters are larger in Ontario and Quebec, and lesser in the Prairies, the Maritimes, and the Southwest of British Columbia (Blij and Muller 2006: 170). The current ecumene of the two countries have a significant impact on their operation.
The U.S. Corn Belt is considered to be one of the most productive agricultural sites on Earth. The name was given to an area located in the upper Mississippi Valley, primary in Iowa and Illinois but also takes parts of Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio. It mainly produces corn but it has branched out to also produce soybeans, winter wheat and alfalfa. The reason for the unsurpassed productivity is in the characteristics of the region such as deep and rich soils and long, hot, humid summers. Its productivity is also influenced by the past glacial actions as well as ecumene, latitudinal position, topography, immigration character and persistent support of federal government programs. The location is also very important as it is in close proximity to a large consumer market.
The problem of the ghettoization of the African American population in the United States can be examined through the four-stage intraurban structural evolution described by John Adams. Stage I, prior to 1888, is labeled Walking-Horsecar Era, which produced a compact pedestrian city in which everything had to be within 30-minute walk. Stage II, the Electric Streetcar Era, was launched after 1888 and lasted till 1920. The urbanized areas expanded along new outlying trolley areas. Stage III, the Recreational Automobile Era (1920-1945), was marked by the initial impact of cars and highways that have significantly improved the accessibility of outer metropolitan area causing suburbanization. During this era, "neighborhoods [were] sharply defined by income, ethnicity, and race" (Blij and Muller: 157). And lastly, stage IV, the Freeway Era (under way since 1945); saw the full impact of autos and expressways pushing suburban development outward (Blij and Muller 2006: 157).The ghettoization of the African American population started during Stage II as the United States saw an increase in immigration. Carole Marks writes that "[b]etween 1871 and 1915, over 25 million Europeansable-bodied, hardworking, and cheapmigrated to the United States (http://www.oxfordaasc.com/oa/article/opr/t0003). African American workers were facing unemployment and migration due to the lack of available work in the rural areas.
Soon though, it became apparent that it created a problem with the white population in the areas of their settlement. The work was sparse and African American labor was cheaper, thus, providing a competition for the white workers. The latter did not feel that they should be sharing the same neighborhood with the racially different group. Therefore, the African Americans were forced into segregation in a geographically different location. By the 1950s, these mostly inner-city areas became largely expanding ghettos, speeding the departure of many white communities and reinforcing the trend of racially divided urban society (Blij and Muller 2006: 158). The four-stage model of intraurban structural evolution introduced by John Adams helps to explain the urban patterns found in American cities to this day. The ghettoization of the African American population can be seen in every city of the United States. The black population, even to this day, has fewer opportunities due to the fact that they are born and raised in the American ghettos where there is little emphasis on education and career development.
Those areas are heavily ridden with crime, substance abuse, and gang violence. Therefore, the African American population tends to stay in the ghettos, whereas their white neighbors tend to move farther away due to the level of the criminal activity in the ghettos. The model does explain the urban patterns not only in the United States but Canada as well. The urban patterns present in the Canadian society are fully described by this model. Just like in the United States, the metropolises in Canada have the ghetto areas with the high concentration of not only people of African descent, but other "visible minorities" as well. In the Canadian ghetto there is a mix of persons from Africa, Asia, Central and Latin Americas. Even though they do tend to live in segregated areas of the inner-cities it is not all for the exact same reasons as in the United States. In the case of Canadian immigrants such factors as language barriers, occupational skills, and social networks contribute to the degree of segregation. However, the studies have shown that the longer stay in the country can lead to dispersion to more desirable neighborhoods.
However, in order to maintain group values and beliefs, and to maximize social interaction, people choose to live in close proximity to people of the same ethnic background; therefore, creating a stronger bonds with the community but still maintaining residential segregation. Thus, the four-stage model does not fully cover the intraurban structure of Canadian metropolises. It does not account to the fact of voluntary grouping of "visible minorities" that creates neighborhoods similar to ghettos in the United States. The ghetto neighborhoods in the United States are inter-city poverty zone and involuntarily segregated from other income and racial groups. In Canada, this might not be the exact case. Immigrants do have many socio-economical disadvantages upon the first arrival to the country; it does not necessarily stay that way though. As assimilation process progresses, their language skills improve, therefore improving their employment opportunities and subsequently their income. However, better standard of living does not always persuade the people to move away from the familiar environment of their ethnic community.
Some recent research studies show that while residential segregation continues to be high, many groups such as the Chinese and South Asians in Canadian cities have improved their occupational status the longer they stay. It may very well be that many minority group members can live in ethnic neighborhoods and still do well economically. One determining factor may be that recent immigrants have higher education and job skills at the time of their immigration to Canada. Government policies on job and language training and job placement may help their integration. At the same time, some groups such as Blacks and Aboriginal peoples are not only segregated but socioeconomically more disadvantaged (Balakrishnan and Hou 1999: 211). The fact that the four-stage model does provide a full explanation for the situation in the United States and ghettoization of the African American population does not guarantee the same for Canada. In the case of the latter, the model does not completely explain the intraurban structure and the current segregation of various "visible minorities". The two countries have a very different distribution and organization of their metropolises, therefore the model works mainly in the United States and only partially in Canada.
- de Blij H.J. , and Muller, Peter O. Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts, 12th ed. John Wiley&Sons, Inc. , NJ, 2006
- Balakrishnan, T.R., and Hou, F. "Socioeconomic integration and spatial residential patterns of immigrant groups in Canada" Population Research and Policy Review 18, 1999