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Articles in Geopolitics

Vojvodina: Europe’s Newest Old Autonomous Region

By Martin W. Lewis | January 5, 2010 | 4 Comments

In late 2009 Europe gained a new autonomous region when Serbia granted its northern area of Vojvodinia control over its own regional development, agriculture, tourism, transportation, health care, mining, and energy. Vojvodina, population two million, will even gain representation in the European Union (although it will be allowed to sign only regional agreements, not international ones)

The Northern Areas Become Gilgit-Baltistan

By Martin W. Lewis | January 4, 2010 | 2 Comments

The former princely state of Kashmir is one of the world’s most contested territories (see map). During the British colonial period, Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja (under British “advisement”) even though its population was (and is) mostly Muslim. The political partition of British India into the independent states of India and

The Country of Greenland

By Martin W. Lewis | January 3, 2010 | One Comment

There is no single, unambiguous term in the English language to denote the sovereign entities that form the bedrock of the global political system. We often call them “nations,” but strictly speaking a “nation” is a group of people who either have or aspire to have a sovereign entity of their own

The Plight of the Rohingyas

By Martin W. Lewis | January 2, 2010 |

The standard linguistic map of Burma/Myanmar (below) reveals a significant number of ethnic groups. Unfortunately, it also conceals much of the country’s diversity, as a number of separate peoples are joined together into composite ethnic categories, while others are simply ignored. The most important group in the latter category are the Rohingyas, a distinct people

Linguistic Geography and the Nuba Mountains

By Martin W. Lewis | December 31, 2009 |

The Ethnologue is one of the best sites on the web for information about languages and linguistic geography. In the Ethnologue map shown above, a red dot is placed at the geographical center of each of the 6,906 languages listed in the organization’s database. One of the more interesting patterns visible in

Ethnic Rioting in Suriname

By Martin W. Lewis | December 30, 2009 | 4 Comments

In late December 2009, anti-Brazilian rioting broke out in the town of Albina in northeastern Suriname after a Brazilian man allegedly stabbed and killed a local resident. The ethnic violence grew so intensive that the Brazilian Foreign Ministry was forced to send in two aircraft to airlift its citizens from

South Ossetia Gains Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | December 27, 2009 | 2 Comments

South Ossetia is a self-declared independent country located in what the United States and most of the international community regards as Georgian territory. It has functioned as an autonomous client state of Russia ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union in

Troubled Eritrea

By Martin W. Lewis | December 26, 2009 | One Comment

On December 23, 2009, the United Nations voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea for supporting Islamist militants in Somalia. The next day, Eritrea denied the accusations, labeling the UN actions as “shameful.”

Yemen: A Failing State?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 25, 2009 |

Concerns that Yemen could become a failed state have recently mounted. The country has a weak central government, faces separate rebellions in the north and south, and contains a considerable al Qaeda contingent. The northern rebellion attracts most international attention, as it has

Southern Sudan

By Martin W. Lewis | December 23, 2009 |

In its December 19, 2009 issue, The Economist magazine reported a rare bit of “good news” from Sudan: the country’s ruling party and the former rebels of the south had agreed upon provisions for the scheduled 2011 referendum that will supposedly allow the south to secede. According to the agreement, Southern Sudan will indeed

Geo-Trivia: Enclaves, counter-enclaves, and (the world’s only) counter-counter-enclave

By Martin W. Lewis | December 22, 2009 |
Sovereign states (or countries) generally appear on the map as solid, contiguous blocks of territory, and they are certainly conceptualized as such. But exceptions abound. Many countries, for example, have separates “annexes” located at some distance, technically known as exclaves (think of Alaska). Bits of territory within the boundaries of one state that

Telangana: A New State in India?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 20, 2009 | 2 Comments

Not long after gaining independence, India remapped its internal political geography so that its main divisions would roughly correspond with linguistic groups. With each major language community being granted its own state, local demands for autonomy would, theoretically, be much reduced. Although this policy has generally resulted in stable “statoids”(see http://www.statoids.com/), agitation for the creation

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