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People and Places

Political Geography

Population Geography
Cultural Geography
Genocide in Darfur
Political Geography
Agricultual Geography
Genetic Engineering -- US vs World?
Urban Geography
Economic Geography
Reading List
AP prep

This is the nature and signifi­cance of the political organization of territory at different scales. We learn that political patterns reflect ideas about how Earth’s surface should be organized and affect a wide range of activities and understandings.

Primary attention is given to the political geography of the modem “nation-state” or country. We are introduced to the different forces that shaped the evolution of the contemporary world political map, including the rise of the modem state in Europe and the influence of colonialism.  We also learn about the basic structure of the political map and the inconsistencies between maps of political boundaries and maps of ethnic, economic, and environmental patterns. In addition, we con­sider some of the forces that are changing the role of individual countries in the modern world, including ethnic separatism, economic globalization, the emergence of regional economic blocs, and the need to confront envi­ronmental problems that cross national boundaries.

Focus is also on political units above, below, and beyond the state. For example, at the scale above the state, attention is directed to regional integration schemes and alliances, such as NATO and the European Union. At the scale below the state, we are introduced to the ways in winch electoral districts, municipal boundaries, and ethnic territories affect political, social, and economic processes In addition, we study how particular policies affect the spatial organization of cultural and social life, as in the case of racial segregation. Through study of these matters, we understand the importance of the political orga­nization of territory in the contemporary world.

Political Geography Facts

click to Council on Foreign Relations

Genocide: Click here for more New York Times articles & podcasts

The Silence of Bystanders 
Published: March 19, 2006

I saw a lot of heartbreak on my latest visit to the fringes of Darfur: two orphan boys living under a tree after their family was murdered, a 13-year-old girl shot in the chest and a 6-year-old boy trying desperately not to cry as doctors treated shrapnel wounds to his leg.

But the face of genocide I found most searing belonged to Idris Ismael, a 32-year-old Chadian. Mr. Idris said that a Sudan-sponsored janjaweed militia had attacked his village, Damri, that very morning. He had managed to run away. But his wife, Halima, eight months pregnant, could only hobble. And so she was still in the village, along with their four children, ages 3 to 12.

"The village is surrounded by janjaweed, with civilians inside," Mr. Idris said. "There's no way for people to escape. The janjaweed will kill all the men, women and children, take all our blankets and other property, and then burn our homes. They will kill every last person."

"The janjaweed will rape and kill my family," Mr. Idris added. "And there's nothing I can do."


In Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser some of the main issues were the health problems, social effects and economical effects that are caused by places like Burger King and McDonalds.

Schlosser tells the reader about the horrors of the fast food industry, much like in The Jungle, written in 1905 by Upton Sinclair. How poorly the workers are treated, how badly the meat is handled, and so on. He tells us stories of children dieing due to undercooked hamburgers spreading E coli and other diseases, one of these being mad cow disease. If one infected herd gets processed into the system that one contaminated group can be separated into millions of burgers to infect people all over the world. Has it become so bad that even our government officials can be bribed, or turn their heads for the golden arches? But all of these shocking facts can’t surpass the marketing and strategizing to make us love our quarter pounders and biggie fries.

Fast food has had a profound effect on our society. Our food is literally eaten across the globe. Not only is it in nearly every town in America but a McDonald’s is popping up on every street corner in Europe and Asia. The top ten list of McDonald’s per country is amazing. The US is of course number one with 12,804 restaurants, Japan in second with 3,598, Canada in third with 1,154 McDonald’s, the UK in fourth with 1,115 and Germany rounding out the top five with 1,091 restaurants. Honorable mention goes to France with 857, Australia with 701, Taiwan with 338, China with 326 and Italy with 290 McDonald’s. Chinese children’s favorite food is now a cheeseburger with fries. This is an obvious example of globalization.

The term “globalization” describes the increased mobility of goods, services, labor, technology and capital throughout the world. It also refers to how the world is becoming homogeneous, seeing the same restaurant whether you’re in Rome or Timbuktu. If this pattern continues in twenty years there may not be any distinct cultures. Will there be differences in countries or will our world become something out of 1984 by George Orwell where everyone is a number and works for one government, and marries whoever the government decides for them. A world where there is no diversity.

If what I explained in the previous paragraph occurs, what will become of our economy? Tourism accounts for 11% of the world’s income and for many countries is the reason they survive in today’s highly competitive society. But, if everywhere looks the same, feels the same and tastes the same, what’s the points of traveling?

Another effect on the global economy is how manipulative McDonald’s and Burger King are with their advertising. They target children and use places like Disneyland to promote their products. This greatly increases their annual profit because how many Disneyland are there in the world? It started out in California and spread to Florida, Paris, Japan and Hong Kong. Yet another example of globalization.

The Fordist process has also spread. It’s no longer only used on cars as Henry Ford first used it for in 1907. It’s broadened to include how our food is made, the quicker and cheaper the better! This also applies to the homogenization of the world, every burger tastes exactly the same due to the Fordist system. The last example I have about how drastically the fast food industry affects our economy is the fact that this year Americans will spend more money on fast food than higher education.

The web of McDonald’s is hastily stretching over the seven seas. This web applies to other areas of production like clothing, banking and manufacturing. In a few years what governments will be able to control these corporations? Or will McDonald’s, Nike, and Pizza Hut become the superpowers that dominate our world?

-Anne D. Pennington