Sample International Relations Paper on Political Geography

Question One

Ethnicity is a fundamental part of individual and group identity given that it allows individuals to discern the group of which they are part and to which they do not belong. There are numerous cases globally where geography and ethnic lines did not coincide resulting in serious conflicts and massive loss of lives. An example of when geography and ethnicity clashed was in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. This incidence involved the elimination of Croats and Bosnians by the Serbian Army. There was the belief by the Serbian army that the Croats and Bosnians had encroached their land. A thorough cleansing of the two ethnicities took place with the execution of several community leaders, potential leaders, as well as the male population. Another example is the genocide in Rwanda that took place between April and June 1994.[1] It is believed that the cause of the genocide was the shooting down of Hutu president’s airplane on the orders of one of the Tutsi leaders, Paul Kagame. The role of geography in the two outcomes is that the majority tend to control specific favorable geographical locations and are ready to severely punish the minority for trespassing or seeking control of the said locations. This is still one of the major causes of ethnic clashes today, particularly in the African continent.

Question Two

In the nineteenth century towards the twentieth century, one of the most critical resources that even caused conflicts and conquest of nations was land. This was evident in the European nation-states decision to draw boundaries for Africa, America, Asia, and Australasia. This, however, changed in the second half the 20th century when water became a crucial resource that caused conquests though less bloody. In their interactions over water in the 1940s, states, especially those at the coast, believed that their geographical territories covered only a thin sliver of sea around the coast. The rest of the sea including the high seas were then considered international waters that were beyond the control of any state. Several years later, this has changed as states believe that their territories in oceans or seas should go up to 200 hundred nautical miles at least from the coasts. This has been as a result of the nations’ need to access and have control over resources found in ocean or sea water and beneath. Evidently, geography plays a crucial role in states’ interactions over water as it helps to determine every state’s territorial boundary within waters. The territorial boundary currently runs up to 200 nautical miles off the coast.[2]

Question Three

Globalization should be thanked for today’s international trade that has allowed states to interact with each other in the global open market. The fact that many states have had access to opened new markets is largely because of the aspect of globalization.[3] However, in terms of international trade, some nations benefit while some are losers. Geography plays a role in some nations benefiting whereas some lose in terms of international trade. Currently, nation-states that are located along the coast have ports and harbors that are a huge boost to trade. In the African continent, for instance, countries located along the coast with harbors tend to benefit more from international trade as compared to those that are far from the coast. In fact, countries far from the coast are forced to rely on ports of nation-states along the coast and have to pay for using these ports. The geographical location of nation-states points to the influence of geography when it comes to trade.




Blacksell, Mark. Political Geography. London: Routledge, 2006.




[1] Blacksell, Mark. Political Geography. London: Routledge, 2006.

[2] Blacksell, Mark 13

[3] Blacksell, Mark 207