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Frontiers:,a Study in Political Geography

Nature volume 101, page 183 (09 May 1918) | Download Citation



IT would not be easy to say much that is new in a general discussion on frontiers after the works of Sir Thomas Holdich and Prof. L. W. Lyde, one arguing that frontiers should secure protection to the State, the other that they should be chosen rather to facilitate intercourse in the hope of securing peace between adjacent States. Mr. Fawcett has, however, written a very readable essay treating the subject from the viewpoint of geographical evolution. He begins by discussing the value that various features have as frontier zones, and leads on to a consideration of the complexities of the frontiers of modern States. He notes that the strongest force at present working towards the modification of frontiers is a tendency towards the coalescence of national and political boundaries. This implies a subordinate place to economic and strategic considerations, though in the main such frontiers will conform with the latter. The real difficulties arise in the determination of nationality in frontier lands which are well peopled. We are glad to notice that Mr. Fawcett defines his use of the terms “frontier” and “boundary,” employing the former for an area and the latter for a line. Loose usage of these terms is not conducive to clear thinking. His suggestion to speak of zones of separation and zones of intercourse (or of pressure), instead of natural and artificial frontiers, has much in its favour. Among his wealth of instances we find no mention of the neutral zone established in the south between Norway and Sweden in 1905. Here is an instance of a frontier of intercourse (short compared with the long zone of separation) which both nations agree to prevent so far as possible developing into a menace to one another, by prohibiting the erection of military works or the establishment of garrisons.

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