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10 Important Geopolitical Trends Captured Using GIS Technology

5 MINS READNov 14, 2018 | 20:34 GMT
A map of the waterways in the Mississippi River Basin, derived from geographic information systems (GIS) technology.

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology has many critical real-world applications. At Stratfor, our in-house creative team uses GIS to create original, illuminating graphics to highlight emerging trends in geopolitics that are defined by geography.

Editor's Note

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology has many critical real-world applications. At Stratfor, our in-house creative team uses GIS to create original, illuminating graphics to highlight emerging trends in geopolitics that are defined by geography. Check out some of our favorite examples of visual data in this original collection.

In Iraq and Syria, Imagery of Nighttime Electricity Use Illuminates the Impacts of War

This image represents electricity use in the Levant area of the Middle East by depicting the evolving intensity of night lights between 2012 and 2016. As millions of refugees fled Syria and warfare destroyed the country's electricity network, the night-light intensity in Syria dropped precipitously. Read more

Nighttime Electricity Use in Iraq, Syria and the Levant, 2012-2016

The Geopolitics of Russia: Permanent Struggle

The geography of the Russian Empire bequeathed it certain characteristics. Most important, the empire was (and remains) lightly settled. Even today, vast areas of Russia are unpopulated while in the rest of the country the population is widely distributed in small towns and cities and far less concentrated in large urban areas. Read more

Population Density Map of Russia

The Geopolitics of China: A Great Power Enclosed

China is bordered by terrain that is difficult to traverse in virtually any direction. There are some areas that can be traversed, but to understand China we must begin by visualizing the mountains, jungles and wastelands that enclose it. This outer shell both contains and protects China. Read more

Population Density Map of China

The Geopolitics of the United States: American Identity and the Threats of Tomorrow

The American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset. Read more

Population Density Map of the United States

The Pop Star Who Would Challenge Uganda's President

Uganda has witnessed one of its most significant political spats in recent years following the arrest of a pop-star-turned-politician. Bobi Wine's arrest and subsequent charge of treason sparked protests in the landlocked African country. And while President Yoweri Museveni remains unchallenged as Uganda's leader, the rise of the singer is a reflection of the challenges for Uganda's youth. Read more

Population Density Map of Uganda and East Africa

What Lies Beneath the Enduring Stalemate in Afghanistan

Almost 17 years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency rages on with no end in sight. And despite the launch last summer of a new strategy and a considerable ramp-up in air power, the United States appears no closer to breaking the stalemate, in which the central government in Kabul continues to control Afghanistan's urban areas and the Taliban exerts influence over wide swaths of the countryside. Foreign support and the failure of the Afghan state are central to the continued endurance of the Afghan insurgency. Another key element — often overlooked — is the Taliban's success in establishing deep ties within Afghanistan's rural social fabric. Read more

Map of Ethnic and Linguistic Groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Trade Profile: Canada Negotiates Its Diversity

Canada's trade strategy is at the mercy of its geography. Thanks to its location, trade with the United States is unavoidable for Canada. An estimated 80 percent of the country's population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border, meaning that its regional economies have become integrated with and reliant on those of the United States. In addition, the size of Canada's territory relative to that of its population has compelled it to adopt one of the world's most decentralized political systems. The resulting system of government suits the vast and sparsely populated country, but it often makes it difficult for Canada to implement its trade agreements. As international trade agreements become more complex, these issues will assume even greater importance in the country's trade strategy. Read more

Population Density Map of Canada

Building a More Efficient World

As the global economy changes with the advent of new technologies, so, too, does infrastructure. Inland rivers, railways and highways have all played a role in increasing the efficiency of moving goods and people through the years, taking advantage of or augmenting existing geographic features. Even seemingly small technological advances, such as the container ship, can revolutionize long-standing modes of transportation. Now, as the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, the demands on infrastructure will shift again, and with them, the global order. Read more

Map of Waterways in the Mississippi River Basin

The Geopolitics of Brazil: An Emergent Power's Struggle with Geography

Most of Brazil's territory does not lie within these Southern Cone lands. Instead, roughly one-third of Brazil's 8.5 million square kilometers is composed of vast tracts of challenging jungle, with the Amazon Basin being the most intractable of all. While there are many potential opportunities to exploit minerals, they come with daunting infrastructure costs. Read more

Population Density Map of Brazil

Trade Profile: Australia Takes on the Tyranny of Distance

At its simplest, Australia is a continent that is also a country, a territory at once expansive and isolated. Open sea surrounds it on three sides, while vast tracts of desolate wilderness separate its habitable zones. Relative to its immense territory, moreover, Australia's population is disproportionately small. Its remoteness has proved a unique advantage for land-intensive industries such as agriculture. But overcoming the "tyranny of distance," as Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey famously put it, is a perennial challenge for the country. Read more

Population Density Map of Australia

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