To answer a question like the proposed one, it is necessary first to follow some steps that can guide us into the correct line to obtain the best response which not only will give the exactly solution to the problem but also it will let one fulfill the necessity of know and comprehend the context of the entire situation. Saying this, it is essential to know how the international relations work and what are they about, and off course it is needed to recognize the definition of geography to be able to create some bases for give a correct response and to have the capacity to establish a connection between the two terms’ meaning and make a reflection of how they can coexist and be related with each other in the daily development of life.
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Although, we need to analyze each of the geography factors that have influenced the international system, why are they about and how they have change their importance according to the evolution of the actors during the time; so we can finally come with a complete solution to the question treated, taking into account all the information recollected. This solution will let us create some general and specific conclusions that may be useful to understand the conduct of this system and come with a new perspective of the world’s behavior in terms of the international relations and the geography that would permit us participate of it in an active and conscientiously way.
The term of international relations, to begin, refers to: “a branch of political science concerned with relations between nations and primarily with foreign policies”(1). Analyzing this definition, there is the word “international” as a strong factor, that involves not only more actors with different cultures, aspects, needs, and behaves participating in the system, but also implies an expansion of territory where relations are not longer realized in the national borders from each state, yet it now refers that human interactions are done in the entire world. The definition also shows the importance of creating foreign policies which can be understood as the plans of states to follow at the time of interact internationally.
No matter how different international contacts between states have been, (due to people’s mental conception of the world, and the existing differences between the actors that affects this humans interactions), they will be always present in the history, representing humankind natural necessity of interaction, and they will be always affected by the decisions and behaviors of the representatives in the international system. One example can be taken from the old ages, where the interests of some international actors as Cristobal Colón, were discovering new lands and persons, to increase the territory of the king and to open new markets with the “India”. In here, territory represents Cristobal Colón wants of recognizing the shape of the world and the general necessity of creating maps to be able to go through the land and expand territory, wealth, knowledge and so on.
As we see, international relations can be a complex system that shows the interactions between the humans all around the world, but having a deeply view, it is possible to understand and see that those interactions work according to more specific aspects of the actors, which are also related to the external environment where they developed their cultures, believes, wants and methods to achieve all the goals that they have on mind.
On the other hand the term of geography, refers to: “The scientific study of the location and spatial variation in both physical and human phenomena on Earth” (2). Since ancient times, humankind has always been interested in knowing the surrounding world and before we knew the world as it is today, we used to dream with distant “treasures” in other lands, including not only the mineral materials like gold or oil that have a big economic value nowadays, but also new landscapes with better grounds that let us harvest and build new villages, territories with a variety of climates and may be other persons with differences in their physical aspect, culture and life style from who to learn new techniques and to whom we could teach or even colonize.
In other words, geographers are the ones who investigate the distribution of all of the resources in the earth and how nature has gave to some nations what other nations don’t even know but that they will probably want a need. According to the geography branch, geographers have an especial field of study, for example, those who have the population as the base of study and are in charge of analyze physical differences between races, are called human geographers; those specialized in behaviors and believes are called cultural geographers, and finally those who search all the territory, it’s location in the map and the advantages and disadvantages of that location, are the physical geographers.
As we have discussed before, international relations have been evolving according to the actors and some other factors that influenced them, including ideology, economic, politic, and geographical aspects. It is in this analysis where we can notice the relation between the two terms, and it permits us the establishment of a new definition that involves both terms. This definition would says that international relations are the connections and interactions established by humans all around the world, whose acts are defined according to their personal culture, raze and territory characteristics. Therefore sometimes the relations become difficult when the differences between these aspects from each nation, shock among them. All this factors that influenced human actions are the field of study of geography.
Starting with the analysis of the human branch, we see that there have been many differences between races on earth, for example black people in Africa have a strong physic which represents an advantage in doing hard jobs, or the natives in America with beautiful features and big knowledge of the nature. These varieties have influenced people’s behavior and thoughts of the world’s reality in each time. We can see as an example, that at the beginning, when the humankind felt the necessity of investigate and make an appropriation of the earth, international actors have interests on discovering new lands and learn from possible different cultures. They started traveling all around the world, arriving to new lands that were already inhabited by more developed cultures or at the opposite by cultures that, for being less developed, were also more vulnerable to being attacked and colonized, even when population’s physical characteristics were as strong as the Africans.
At this time, human thoughts were based on the growing, not only of the empires but also of their knowledge about the world were they lived; also the relations between nations were based on mutual recognition, acceptation and interaction. But after the discovery of new lands that were possibly richer in resources (human, cultural, physical), and because of human’s natural ambition, the wishes of territorial expansion to increase wealth and power appeared on International relations field. Human interactions’ development changed from the ones that used to be, to a new scenario based on the pretenses of the statesmen in increasing their power, without caring about the means they had to use, like violent acquisition of human, mineral, and land resources taken from any place they wanted, even if there were established any other nation.
In the cultural analysis, we can say that: “All cultures change through time. No culture is static. However, most cultures are basically conservative in that they tend to resist change. Some resist more than others by enacting laws for the preservation and protection of traditional cultural patterns while putting up barriers to alien ideas and things.” (3).
Culture represents one of the biggest and more important aspects in international relations because of the strongest link existing between humans’ behavior and humans’ believes. Both aspects influence each other and make the other possible, therefore sometimes it is difficult to maintain some interactions between the representatives of different traditions, because even if the culture is somehow “open” for new changes, there will be always some kind of resistance to accept the external ideas that are different from their believes and ways of behave.
In the history, culture’s differences have represented not only difficulties to maintain commercial or diplomatic relations, but also the reasons given by some actors to initiate wars as the one in the Middle East with the well known problem “land of promise”, that hasn’t been resolved and that also shows how different believes can influence the international relations’ scenario.
Finally the physical aspect of geography refers to all of the specific resources inside any territory. Since the mental expansion of the actors, and their capacity of extend their physical territory occurred, territory has become one of the most relevant points to understand the international system, due to the fact that it has become the place where all the relations are done, therefore land appropriation has become the biggest want of the international actors to control all new interactions and increase their power and recognition among other states.
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Statesmen who have always looked for their benefits and profits in international interactions, understood that having richer territories with all kind of resources, and strategic locations, would let them achieve their personal goals, therefore all international policies in the different countries take in to account land and its characteristics to plan the nation behave in the international system. Therefore it is possible to see now that developed nations helped the developing ones to fulfill their necessity of power even if they don’t say it in a direct way.
To conclude, we have analyzed and proved that all human interactions are influenced somehow by some geographical aspects that are, were and will be always present in humankind evolution. Factors as the territory where we live, the culture that we have learned and our specific physical aspects, including behaves, are the ones that guide us in the international relations’ field. Therefore there is a big relationship between the two terms, and it is essential to study geography in the international system, to be able to be a conscientiously actor that participates actively in that big network, where all is connected.
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