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Defining a superpower

When thinking about a superpower there are a number criteria to consider/include-

  • Size- larger areas tend to have greater supplys of natural resources.
  • Economic strength- in 2007 the 12 largest economies control 2/3 of the worlds GDP.
  • Culture-Spread of concepts and traditions on a global scale- Mcdonalds.
  • Population-Economic development can not be achieved without a large workforce.
  • Resources- These help with economic development and power.
  • Military strenghth.- Large milatries are seen as powerful.
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Main inter-Govermmental orginisations.


  • Formed in WW2 to stabilise currency- USA 16% BRICS-9%
  • Monitering economic development.
  • Provides loans for countries experiencing difficulties.


  • Same voting % structure as the IMF.
  • Provides grants and loans to try and reduce poverty.
  • Bad reputation for funding negative projects.


  • Established to create trade policy agreements and to settle disputes.
  • Has a once country one vote system.
  • Neoliberal outlook with a focus on liberalising trade on a global scale.
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Trade blocks- NAFTA

  • Known as North American free trade agreement.
  • Consists of 3 countries- America, Mexico and Canada.
  • Came into force in 1994.
  • Proposed to create free trade and abolish import taxes and tariffs.

Main policies-

  • Environmental cooperation.
  • Labour cooperation.
  • Security partnership.


  • North American growth has been the highest since 1997.
  • Improved prospects for small businesses.


  • 2.5 million Mexican immigrants to the USA since 2005.
  • Mass job loss in the US, due to relocation in Mexico where there is cheaper labour.
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Development theory- Modernisation theory.

  • Developed in the 1960s by Rostow.
  • Countries move through 5 stages of economic development .
  • Development is seen to be achieved by escaping the poverty trap and adopting a capitalist approach.
  • Attempts to invest in key infulstructure to help development.
  • All countries are seen to develop in the same way of 5 stages.
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Dependency Theory-

  • Based on work by Frank
  • The cause of poverty in developing countries is there dependence on the developed nations.
  • There is an economically developed core and an under-developed periphery.
  • Primary resources are sent to the core, the periphery get poor trade agreements.
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Mackinder's heartland theory.

  • Crated by Mackinder in 1904.
  • Belief that whoever had control over the heartland ( Russia) would rule over the world.
  • The less influentual you are the further away from the heartland you get.

Russia in theory should have greater power, however-

  • Too many boarders- easy to attack.
  • Unfavourable weather- winter ice.
  • Weak government in the early 20th C.
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World Systems Theory.

  • There are 3 tiers- core- semi periphery and periphery.
  • Dynamic model allowing for movement.
  • Explination for the Rise in China and India.
  • Shift back to the older world.
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The global shift.

This is the patten of movement and relocation of secondary and primary industries from developed countries to the developing countries-BRICs.


  • ICT and the Internet- allows for more efficient communication on a global scale.
  • Transport- Different elements of production can be spread out to get the cheapest prices.
  • Relaxed trade Barriers- TNCs can take advantage of different trade agreements.
  • Spread of the English language- Easier and more efficient communication.

Effects of this global shift- Core areas.

  • Deindustrilisation due to TNCs moving abroad to get cheaper prices.
  • Unemployment and skills mis-match.#
  • Foreign direct investment.

Peripheral areas-

  • Rural migration.
  • Unsafe factories-140,000 each year.
  • Pollution due to poor environmental regulations.
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Future superpower Scenarios.

1)-Multi polar world

  • USA are powerful but less dominate-decline in economic power.
  • 2025 China the 2nd largest economy.
  • Increased investment by the BRICs in LEDCs.

2)Arms race in the Middle east.

  • Weapons sold in exchange for energy and political power.
  • Competition for military influence.
  • Potential for nuclear weapons war.

3) Increased resource tensions.

  • Dwindling numbers of energy producers- 2025-6 countries produce 39% of oil.
  • State owned resource companies increase geopolitical tension.
  • Political weaponary.

4)EU/Japan decline due to ageing population.

  • Developing country's 70% of the population are aged 15-64.
  • Dependency ratio 1/2 IN Japan- burden on welfare.
  • Cuts in education and infulstructure.

5)Rise of resource rich powers.

  • Increased power in countries with resources- they demand higher prices.
  • Climate chande could lead to discovery or more resources- ice melts.
  • Slow economic growth in energy dependent states.
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How can power be maintained?

Super powers have shifted the maintenance of their power from colonial rule to indirect neo-colonial rule.

Following the end of colonial rule, decolonisation occurred but borough about conflict rather the freedom for 3 main reasons-

1) Colonial boarders did not match ethnic or religious once.

2)Many areas were unable to run there  governments due to lack of knowledge.

3)As colonial powers lift, insurgents pushed them out=Violence.

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Refers to a form of indirect control over developing countries, most of them former colonies. Direct political control decreases whilst indirect economic control increases.

Economic dependency is increased through-

1) Dependency on primary Goods.

  • Conflict as goods have low export in comparison to there high prices.

2)Economic dominance of multinational companies.

  • Foreign direct investment.

3)Impact of foreign aid and debt.

  • Huge repayment levels as a result of debt and aid agreements.

4)Strategic alliances.

  • Developed nations spread there influence over the developing.
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The impact of the rising new superpowers on the ol

  • The emergence of new superpowers has been seen as an opportunity as the Eu, Japan and USA have experiences economic growth and falling consumer prices due to economic activity in the NICs and RICs.
  • It is thought that in the future the US will become less dominent and thats shortages of fule, food and water will lead to conflict.

Shifting of power could lead to conflict-

  • Although the US and Eu are allies there still remains cultural tension between them.
  • US attitudes are focused on the individual person.
  • EU is more focoused on the greater good and the 'family'.

Tension could be seen to be resulting in a number of factors-


  • Usually as a result of resistance against foreign investment or rule.
  • Main focus is the USA.


  • 2002 invasion of Iraq was seen by many as an opportunity for the US to destroy weapons and gain control over middle east oil supplies.
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