• Created by: holly_u
  • Created on: 11-03-18 15:51

Key terms

Superpower= a nation with the ability to project its influence anywhere in the world and be a dominant global force

Hyperpower= unchallenged superpower that is dominant in all aspects (political, economic, cultural, military) e.g USA

Emerging superpower= a nation with a large and growing economic, military and political influence e.g China

Regional power= smaller, influence over nations at a continental scale e.g South Africa within Africa.

Colonial= direct control exerted over territories. Ruled by force, no power given to original population

Acculturation= cultural change taking place when two cultures interact. Dominant culture onto subordinate culture

Geo-strategic policies= policies that attempt to meet the global and regional aims of a country by combining diplomacy with military assest

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Superpower characteristics

Pillars of power:
Superpower status requires 4 pillars and a base

Base= ECONOMIC. large and powerful economy helps nations with military power, exploit natural resources & develop man-made ones

1) MILITARY POWER. used to achieve geopolitical goals using nuclear weapons, armies, cutting edge military technology.

2) POLITICAL POWER. influencing others through dipolmacy using international organisations e.g United Nations

3) CULTURAL POWER. spreading ideologies & ways of life through film, arts and food.

4) RESOURCES. physical resources e.g fossil fuels, so exports. Human resources e.g large population skilled and educated.

USA, China and EU are only potential superpowers. 
China lacks political and cultural influence

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Hard vs Soft power

HARD POWER- using force
- military action, creation of alliances and economic sanctions (penalties) agaisnt a country to damage economy

e.g Invasion of Iraq by USA. 2003

ECONOMIC POWER (between soft and hard)
economic or development aid, trade agreements 

SOFT POWER- power of persuasion
cultural: attractiveness
political: , values and ideologies 
foreign policies: moral authority

Smart power= combining both hard and soft power to get way

Over time:
-hard power less important & soft power more, because emerging powers cannot use military power as easily. 
-during colonial periods hard power (military) used to conquer other countries

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Unipolar- Colonial - direct control

Types of polarity:
- unipolar world = one superpower e.g USA currently
- bipolar world = two superpowers. opposite ideologies e.g Russia and USA
- multipolar world = multi superpowers competing. Future of world?

hegemony= dominance of a superpower due to strong military forces/ cultural influence

UNIPOLAR WORLD- British Empire on colonial India. (1919-1939)

  • UK navy dominated worlds oceans and protected colonies
  • British military and entrepreneurs emigrated to India 
  • Educated indians on language and dress
  • Acculteration (spread of ideologies occurred) e.g cricket, afternoon tea
  • Created social construct. British high. Indians low.

+ for Britain= increased trade raw materials, work in colonial countries, taxes from colonies

+ for India= introduced to english language, infrastructure e.g railways,  technology
- for India= no control over country, resources exploited

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Bipolar- post-colonial- indirect control


Reason for loss of colonies: post-war bankruptcy no money to fund, focus on war reconstruction in home countries

Cold War (after ww2)- between USA and Russia (USSR)
USA wanted to control spread of communism but USSR built allies with Eastern European countries. Never led to upfront conflict.

Difference between:
USA. CAPITALISM= self-sufficient, freedom, democracy elected leaders, workers employed by profit making individuals

USSR. COMMUNISM = business owned by state, equality, workers employed by state, dictatorship (no elections)

MacKinder 'Heartland Theory' due to Russia geographical location, impossible to conquer e.g Himalayas & independent due to surplus resources

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Multi-polar - Neocolonialism

Neo-colonialism= a form of indirect control over developing countries in the form of aid, trade and debt

Strategic Alliances- military alliances making developing nation dependent
Aid- 'strings attached' tied aid forcing countries to agree on policies
TNC investment- 'friendly' policies allowing investment from abroad creates jobs and welath
Terms of trade- low export prices & high import prices from HICs stop development
Debt- developing countries borrow money and end up having relationship with HICs

official language english, still depends on wealthy nations, price of cocoa decided by London & New York, most packaging done in Europe (connection), after joining WTO had to stop subsidising farming

China threat to USA power:
China island building strategy - gaining power
largest exporter
second largest economy after USA
diplomatic connections with nearly every country

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Overall polarity

Unipolar- British colonies.
Frequent, unpredictable conflicts

Bipolar- Cold war. USA vs USSR.
stable but 'scary' avoid direct conflict

HICs expanding spheres of influence & LICs defending theirs. Most unstable

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Emerging Countries- BRICs

Rise of emerging nations, more multi-polar future?

BRICS= Brazil, Russia, India, China

Brazil + culturally influential e.g 2016 Olympics, energy independent 
- low education levels

Russia + very large military with nuclear power, energy independent 
- high levels of inequality, difficult relations with EU e.g Ukraine over Crimea

India + english widelt spoken and high education, lots culture e.g Bollywood, 6th largest economy, average age 29 by 2020 so high working pop, modernisation of military- new tech
- high levels of inequality. Very rich e.g Mumbai but also very poor in slums, 

China + largest exporter globally, highly educated, growing military technology
- relies on imports, ageing population in future

G20= major economies developed and developing+ EU, Mexico, South Korea. Account for 85% global GDP. But self appointed.

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Development Theories

framework showing how nations become powerful

A liberal economic deveopment theory (capitalism as vital) 

5 stages: 

  • Traditional society- agricultural society with subsistence farming
  • Conditions for take-off- more trading, mechanised agricutlure
  • Take-off- manufacturing industry grows, agriculture less important
  • Drive to maturity- industry becomes more diverse and more independent economy
  • High mass consumption- tertiary (services) sector dominant & consumer orientated

Believed if communist countries e.g China do not adopt model, cannot develop. Not necessarily true

Only describes economic growth, doesn't help understand political & cultural aspects of power

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Development Theories 2


MARXIST theory (capitalism promoting inequality)

Core capitalist countries make periphery underdeveloped due to brain drain and exploitation of workers.

Periphery countries provide services to core e.g cheap commodities, labour from migration, locations for investment. 

By keeping periphery underdeveloped superpowers have less competition.

- outdated and over simplified. Suggests countries are permanently stuck in underdeveloped state

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Development Theories 3

WORLD SYSTEMS THEORY 1970s (Wallerstein)

MARXIST theory (capitalism promotes inequality)

More detailed dependency theory looking at developed core, developing periphery and semi-periphery.

Focused on global scale rather than individual countries.

Core= EU Superpowers
Semi-periphery= India/ China. areas of investment for core countries
Peripehry= rest of developing world. provide raw materials to core

Suggest some countries benefit and others exploited. Emphasises global inequalities

+ allows flexibility & understand countries change over time. fits todays world

- it's an analysis of patterns of power not an explained theory

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Influence on Global Economy

End of Cold War global economy dominated by free-trade & capitalism due to superpowers

free trade= exchange of goods and services free of tariffs, quotas and taxes which would normally protect local producers

free market capitalism= private ownership of property and businesses, right to make a profit and the buying and selling of goods and services in competitive free market

Inter governmental organisations (IGOs)= regional/ global organisations that uphold treaties and international law. Co-operation on things like trade, human rights and conservation

Main IGOs:
- WORLD BANK. gives development loans in exchange for 'free markets' promoting exports, trade, industrialisation. SAPS- controversial
- IMF. promotes economic security and assists countries to reform economies allowing more access of TNCs. SAPS- controversial
- WTO. regulates global trade. reducing trade barriers and ensuring free trade agreements
- WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (WEF). non-profit organisation promoting globalisation and free trade. Created to resolve disputes.

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Global TNCs

Publically traded TNCs= owned by numerous shareholders 

State-owned TNCs= owned by the government, making profit for government
Generally in emerging superpowers e.g China

Critisism: main focus is to profit above all else. environmental degradation

How TNCs reinforce economic and cultural power:

  • easily recogniseable brand e.g Apple, McDonalds
  • dominance of economic landscape in sales & production
  • much needed investment in developing countries
  • control of technology through exerting patents 

TNC cultural influence:
'Westernisation' - capitalism, english language
Media- Disney and downton abbey 'gaining an insight' into western culture.
Food- brands adapt to fit with consumers culture e.g McDonalds adapting menu for Indians, no pork or beef

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International Decision Making

'global police' - idea that 4 winning countries after ww2 (UK, USSR, USA and China) should decide policies. Superpowers and emerging nations heavily affect decisions relating to conflict, crises and climate change. e.g Haiti earthquake UK and France provided humanitarian aid.

Alliances bring strength in numbers. 

Military alliances:
NATO- 28 members, aims to tie together countries if an attack on one country

Economic alliances:
EU- after ww2 for nations to pool together resources. now 28 members
NAFTA- USA, Canada, Mexio. Elimination of tariffs. Largest free-trade agreement so lower prices
ASEAN- promote cultural, economic & political development. Help with training & research. 2009 became a free trade bloc encouraging interdependence due to easy movement, profits of TNCs and free imports. Interdependence leads to stability.

Environmental alliances:
IPCC- regular assessments of climate change (impacts & future) written by hundreds of scientist

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The UN & Global Security

Global security= measures put in place by organisations e.g UN to ensure survival and safety

UN= biggest international alliance set up to settle disputes and conflict. Expanded to talk about issues e.g climate change, terrorism, gender equality...

UN Security Council mechanism for establishing peace and stability. They give sanctions (diplomatic e.g sending foreign embassy home) and use military force (e.g Haiti intervention)

+ World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced disease and hunger globally 
International court justice has brought war criminals to justice.

- Emerging powers e.g India and Brazil are not involved, they should have more global influence
Constant terrorist attacks by IS and Al 'Qaeda suggest not effective as protecting

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Environmental Degradation

Superpowers have large resource footprints due to : large wealthy population and economy
Need food, resources and minerals.

China uses 1/2 worlds coal

Environmental issues:

  •  poor air quality. Urban areas due to factory emissions, cars and rural areas due to wood fires. causing health problems e.g asthma
  • deforestation- converting land into farmland, urbanisation.
    Increased farming means more chemicals and water used
  • Enhanced global warming leading to higher temperatures, melting of glaciers, less freshwater, rising sea levels, erosion, loss of land. If 2m rise in sea level whole of Maldives inundated
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Reducing Carbon Emissions

Data on carbon emissions shows which countries are willing to act to reduce emissions

Falling emissions= 
EU- after UN climate change conference- Paris

Rising emissions= 
Emerging countries- development of industry and urbanisation. 

but not really to blame as only recently high emissions. however more technology today e.g carbon capture storage, so no need to have high emissions.

China such large consumption that their decisions affect everyone. 

A: attitudes and opinions to reducing carbon emissions
P: governments

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Middle class= people with discretionary incomes (amount left after essential) so can spend on consumer goods and holidays

Concern: Growing middle class

More affluent population requires more resources. 

Food and water
- China water supplies not evenly distributed, so potential water crises. North deficit, South surplus
- 300 million lack safe drinking water
- pressure on food supplies meaning nutrition transition. Farming of staple grains to meat & dairy products

- demand for rare earth materials (crucial for modern technology) will increase prices
- basic metal shortages e.g copper, tin
- countries with lack of supplies will be in worse position  (India)

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Tensions over Physical Resources

Reasons for contested resources:
- land borders in dispute
- ownership of landmass in dispute
- nations offshore exclusive economic zone (area of ocean 200 miles beyond coastline, which the nation controls) in dispute

Sphere of influence= a physical region which a country believes it has economic, military, cultural rights. It extends beyond their borders

30% worlds undiscovered gas under arctic worth billions of dollars
disputes over whether the Lomonosov Ridge is part of Russias EEZ
main countries disuputing (Russia, USA and EU) have nuclear weapons

Tensions likely to increase as Arctic melts and becomes more accessible
But exploitation resources will ruin beautiful neatural environment

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Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)= individuals and governments can protect new inventions and ideas, meaning it's protected from others

  • They act as incentives for people to invent

- requires users of products to pay fees to the inventor 
- IP holder decided price which can deny it to some people

  • Faking goods is a crime against IPR under the WTO

Infringing IP:
China well-known for producing counterfeit goods e.g fake Range Rovers, Apple products etc

Creates tensions between countries, particularly USA and CHina, as USA loses profits
TNCs reluctant to invest
Reduced trade agreements as lack of trust

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Spheres of Influence

Sphere of influence= a physical region in which a country believes they have military, political and cultural rights to. It extends beyond their borders.

Contested spheres of influence can lead to conflict


'Island Chain Strategy'
Trying to control the ocean by occupying deserted islands and artificially making larger for military bases. 
Also large USA naval presence - allies with Japan 
Causing disputes


Sanctions after 2014 Crimea crises has left Russia economically isolated
Open conflict led to displacement of people and hundreds of deaths
Could lead to Cold war between Russia and European allies? 

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Economic Ties

Previously HIC unfair relationships with LIC:
- unfair trade- cheap commodity imports compared to expensive manufactured goods
- neo-colonialism- control over a LIC but not ruling directly
- brain drain of skilled workers to HIC

as economy grows looked for a source of FDI- Africa.

Increased interdependence (economies tied together) due to:
- China relying on oil, minerals and biofuels
- Africa imports manufactured goods from China
- Africa relies on Chinese investment in infrastructure e.g rail
- Workers from both countries have migrated

- led to illegal deforestation because of Chinas demand
- Oil spills and Pollution 
- Neo-colonial? In return for FDI China gives some aid

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Shift in 'Centre of Gravity'

  • Up to 1980 economic centre of gravity was to Europe due to Industrial Revolution in UK
  • After WW2 USA dominant
  • Then shift went back to Asia, particularly China

Asia likely to be dominant region in future- will be most populated and highest GDP

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Tensions in Middle-East

Religion- most of middle east is muslim. Those who are not cause conflict
Oil and gas- 65% crude oil in region. conflict over reserves
Governance- weak democracy, often religious beliefs are stronger
Resources- short of food and water , so conflict
Youth- young populations with high unemployment
History- after ww2  borders were created by colonial powers, don't reflect the cultures. caused rise in radical groups e.g IS, as angry over foreign control.

Conflicts today:
2011 Arab Springs. series of pro-democracy uprisings, over throwing some govs, creating instability.
Terrorist groups e.g  IS have caused Syrian civil war. millions of refugees fleeing. 
Conflicting allies. Allies of USA are against allies of Russia, China

Effects: economically costly (military costs) and humanly costly (lives lost)

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Economic Problems for Superpowers

Economic restructuring has left some countries/ places industrialised

EU and USA


ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING- move from primary/ secondary jobs to tertiary (services) and quaternary. creating limited skilled workforce. people lack skills to contribute to new industrys

DEBT- 2008 global recession led to debt in HIC, affecting economic growth
Combat it through: increased taxes, investment of emerging superpowers e.g China

SOCIAL COSTS- youth unemployment in the EU so 'lost generation', very high healthcare costs

UNEMPLOYMENT- western TNCs can't compete with new manufacturers in emerging economies. loss of jobs

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Maintaining Military Power

Costs of maintaining global military power are large. Some believe money should be spent on education, skills, infrastructure or health instead. 

Ways to maintain military power:

  • Navy- projection of forces into areas beyond shores
  • Nuclear power- UK nuclear submarines but very expensive to replace machine
  • Air power- fighters/ bombers that protect territory 
  • Intelligence services- collecting vital information through surveillance, monitoring etc
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Future power

Uncertainties of future as unknown population size, GDP growth, wars?

Possible futures:
UNIPOLAR- USA Hegimony. The US will continue to dominate. If China faces economic crises

UNIPOLAR- Problems (economic, military, political) in EU cause to decline and China rises creating a hegimony
- continued economic growth in Asia but demand for resources in west 

MULTI-POLAR- Emerging powers grow and EU and USA decline, creating world of similar powers.
- unstable as competing powers

BIPOLAR- China rises to same level as USA. Cold war. Nations align themselves with each superpower

Projecting to 2050 impossible

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