Unit IV. Political Organization of Space (13-17%)
In AP® Human Geography, unit 4 covers political geography. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for this unit, focus on the key concepts!
Unit 4 Summary
The following summary is from AMSCO AP Human Geography:
Today’s political map consists mostly of independent states in which all territory is connected, and most people share a language and other cultural traits. This was not true of the past. Many states were sprawling, diverse empires, such as the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East or the British Empire that included people of many cultures. At the same time, many cultural groups were divided into several political groups, such as the hundreds of small German states in central Europe or the various groups of nomads in central Asia.
A government demonstrates its power over a geographic area by enforcing laws that govern individual behavior and affect how resources are used. Boundaries separate territories at various scales, from those that divide the world into countries to those that determine where students attend school.
Political power can be divided in several ways. In a country, it can be centralized in one national government or divided between the national government and several local governments. In the United States, local power can be centralized under regional or county governments, or it can be divided into a patchwork of cities, school districts, and other types of districts.
Independent states face challenges from globalization. Transnational corporations, international organizations, and global environmental problems all make the boundaries around a state less important than they once were. Another challenge to independent states comes from within. Regions with distinctive cultural groups, such as Catalonia in Spain and Quebec in Canada, have successfully argued for more autonomy.
Unit 4 Essential Questions
- What social, historical, and economic factors have influenced modern political maps at various scales?
- How do boundaries reflect ideas of territoriality and political power on various scales?
- How has globalization changed the way people live?
Models to Know from Unit 4
STUDY TIP: The models will appear all over the exam, in both multiple choice and FRQs. You should be able to identify each one from a description or image, apply them to examples, and use them in your writing. All of the AP Human Geography models are explained here
Mackinder's Heartland Theory
Spykman's Rimland Theory
Past FRQs from Unit 4
STUDY TIP: Content from the this unit has appeared on the FRQs nine times since 2001. Take a look at these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. The, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
UNIT 4 KEY CONCEPTS - COURSE OUTLINE
*The following outline was adapted from the AP® Human Geography Course Description as published by College Board in 2019 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.
The Political Map
The terms state, country, and nation are often used interchangeably, but they have some differences.
The US recognizes 195 sovereign states in the world.
Types of states. Hang tight, this can get confusing.
Territory, Power, and Boundaries
Definitional = disagreement on how to define legal docs (ex: Chile & Argentina at the Andes Mountains)
Locational = differences on where a boundary should be (ex. Poland / Germany after WWII)
Operational = how the boundary functions (ex: disputes around Syria based on who should care for refugees)
Allocational = natural resources in dispute (ex: Iraq / Kuwait dispute)
LIST OF CONCEPTS & VOCABULARY FROM UNIT 4
STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from unit 4 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
- Boundary, disputes (definitional, locational, operational, allocational)
- Boundary, origin (antecedent, subsequent, superimposed, relic)
- Boundary, process (definition, delimitation, demarcation)
- Boundary, type (natural/physical, ethnographic/cultural, geometric)
- Buffer state
- Conference of Berlin (1884)
- Domino theory
- EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)
- Electoral regions
- Ethnic conflict
- European Union
- Forward capital
- International organization
- Iron Curtain
- Law of the Sea
- Manifest destiny
- Median-line principle
- National iconography
- Raison d’être
- Religious conflict
- Satellite state
- Stateless ethnic groups
- Stateless nation
- Territorial disputes
- Territorial morphology (compact, fragmented, elongated, prorupt, perforated)
- UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)