geopolitics, method of political analysis, popular in Central Europe during the first half of the 20th cent., that emphasized the role played by geography in international relations. Geopolitical theorists stress that natural political boundaries and access to important waterways are vital to a nation's survival. The term was first used (1916) by Rudolf Kjeflen, a Swedish political scientist, and was later borrowed by Karl Haushofer, a German geographer and follower of Friedrich Ratzel. Haushofer founded (1922) the Institute of Geopolitics in Munich, from which he proceeded to publicize geopolitical ideas, including Sir Walford J. Mackinder's theory of a European "heartland" central to world domination. Haushofer's writings found favor with the Nazi leadership, and his ideas were used to justify German expansion during the Nazi era. Many expansionist justifications, including the American "manifest destiny" as well as the German Lebensraum, are based on geopolitical considerations. Geopolitics is different from political geography, a branch of geography concerned with the relationship between politics and the environment.

See A. Dorpalen, The World of General Haushofer (1942, repr. 1966); W. A. D. Jackson, ed., Politics and Geographic Relationships (2d ed. 1971); S. B. Cohen, Geography and Politics in a World Divided (2d ed. 1973); P. O'Sullivan, Geopolitics (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Geopolitics Reader
Gearóid Ó Tuathail; Simon Dalby; Paul Routledge.
Routledge, 1998
Librarian’s tip: includes "The Geographical Pivot of History" by Halford J. Mackinder
Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought
Klaus Dodds; David Atkinson.
Routledge, 2000
Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics
John Agnew.
Routledge, 2003
The Geopolitics of Governance: The Impact of Contrasting Philosophies
Andrew Kakabadse.
Palgrave, 2001
Geopolitics and Trajectories of Development: The Cases of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and Puerto Rico
Sungho Kang; RamÓn Grosfoguel.
Institute of East Asian Studies, 2010
Reordering the World: Geopolitical Perspectives on the Twenty-First Century
William B. Wood; George J. Demko.
Westview Press, 1999 (2nd edition)
Sachaklian, Harry A.
Air & Space Power Journal, Vol. 26, No. 5, September/October 2012
Bordering and Ordering the European Neighbourhood: A Critical Perspective on EU Territoriality and Geopolitics
Scott, James Wesley.
Trames, Vol. 13, No. 3, September 2009
Thin Ice, Shifting Geopolitics: The Legal Implications of Arctic Ice Melt
Mendez, Tessa.
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 38, No. 3, Summer 2010
Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System
Georgi M. Derluguian; Scott L. Greer.
Praeger, 2000
Dangerous Peace: New Rivalry in World Politics
Alpo M. Rusi.
Westview Press, 1997
The Geopolitics of Super Power
Colin S. Gray.
University Press of Kentucky, 1988
Geopolitical and Economic Changes in the Balkan Countries
Nicholas V. Gianaris.
Praeger Publishers, 1996
11 September and Its Aftermath: The Geopolitics of Terror
Stanley D.Brunn.
Frank Cass, 2004
The Geopolitics of Security in the Americas: Hemispheric Denial from Monroe to Clinton
Martin Sicker.
Praeger, 2002
Geopolitics in Principle and Practice
Russell H. Fifield; G. Etzel Pearcy.
Ginn and Company, 1944
Generals and Geographers: The Twilight of Geopolitics
Hans W. Weigert.
Oxford University Press, 1942
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