AP Human Geography : Changing Nature of Sovereignty

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Human Geography

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

The European empires in Africa are guilty of creating states using __________, something that has led to widespread unrest and instability in the decades since the end of colonialism.

Possible Answers:

antecedent boundaries

superimposed boundaries

geometric boundaries

subsequent boundaries

buffer states

Correct answer:

superimposed boundaries

Explanation:

When the European empires were dividing up Africa into colonies, and later into independent states, they created “superimposed boundaries.” “Superimposed boundaries” are political barriers drawn in an area with complete disregard for the cultural, religious, and ethnic divisions within the people living there. It occurred frequently in Africa as the era of colonialism came to an end and the European powers created independent nations recklessly, without paying attention to the cultural divisions already in existence in the region.

Example Question #1 : Changing Nature Of Sovereignty

Antarctica is claimed by __________.

Possible Answers:

the World Heritage Organization, who wants to deter claims being made by competing nations

many different countries, none of whom have much legitimacy

Russia, which has established bases all over the continent

the United Nations, who administers it on behalf of the world

only The United Kingdom, Norway, and Argentina

Correct answer:

many different countries, none of whom have much legitimacy

Explanation:

Antarctica is not owned by any sovereign nation, but many different countries around the world have claimed all or part of the territory in their recent history. Some of the biggest claims have been made by Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Argentina, but none of these claims are internationally respected or accepted.

Example Question #3 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

Hadrian’s Wall, in the United Kingdom, is an example of a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

human boundary

physical boundary

geometric boundary

frontier

relic boundary

Correct answer:

relic boundary

Explanation:

Hadrian’s Wall once served as the final frontier of the far northern reaches of the Roman Empire. It separated civilized Britons from the barbarian Picts and Gauls. In the years since it’s significance as a political boundary has waned and it is now located entirely within the territory of England. Because it is no longer a political boundary, but once was, it is called a “relic boundary.”

Example Question #4 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

In a theocracy __________.

Possible Answers:

the constitution is not codified, but merely theoretical

one person rules without any toleration of dissent or sedition

religious law is the highest law of the land

a small group of people have control over the government

the people elect representatives to represent their interests in government

Correct answer:

religious law is the highest law of the land

Explanation:

In a theocracy the government is presumed to be divinely ordained by God. The highest law of the land is the law of God (in whatever that state’s religion is). Theocracies were more common in the past, but many still exist in the world today. And, many more countries which are nominally democracies or autocracies nonetheless have elements of theocracy.

Example Question #4 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

Which of these countries or regions is currently considered a commonwealth territory under the control of the United States?

Possible Answers:

Polynesia

The Philippines

Puerto Rico

Cuba

Japan

Correct answer:

Puerto Rico

Explanation:

Puerto Rico came into American possession in 1898, following American victory over the Spanish in the Spanish-American War. For a time it was administered as a territory of the United States; however, in the 1950s its status was changed to that of a commonwealth territory. The meaning of this is controversial and often debated, but it essentially means that Puerto Rico retains autonomy in some areas but is under the control of the American government in other areas.

Example Question #6 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

This territory, sometimes referred to as an independent nation and sometimes considered part of China, is often called “Chinese Taipei” for political reasons.

Possible Answers:

Tibet

Hong Kong

Manchuria

Singapore

Taiwan

Correct answer:

Taiwan

Explanation:

Taiwan is an island off the coast of mainland China. In 1949, following his defeat in the Chinese Civil War, the nationalist Chiang Kai-Shek established his democratic China in Taiwan. For almost three decades this was the China that was recognized by most of the western world, whereas communist mainland China was considered illegitimate. Following the normalization of relations between China and the west in the wake of the death of Mao Zedong mainland China became recognized as the “real and legitimate” China. Taiwan exists in a kind of grey area in the minds of many people, although is considered part of China by the mainland Chinese government. It is called “Chinese Taipei” by many western governments out of a sort of diplomatic necessity.

Example Question #5 : Challenges To Political Territorial Arrangements

A primary differentiation between a state and a nation is that a state is a __________.

Possible Answers:

mutable concept, whereas a nation is permanent.

political abstract, whereas a nation is a human group.

product of history, whereas a nation is a product of people.

fixed geographic item, whereas a nation is not linked to a territory.

Correct answer:

political abstract, whereas a nation is a human group.

Explanation:

Let's begin with separate definitions of the two entities. A state is similar to a country, in that it is a sovereign, bounded territory with its own government. Meanwhile a nation is a group of people with a shared culture and history. Neither is permanent, since a state can change its borders, and a nation can adjust its identity. Furthermore, nationhood is often tied powerfully to a piece of land, just as much as a state. Similarly, a state as much a product of history and people as a nation is. Thus the best description is the closest to our primary definitions: that a state is a political determination of sovereignty defined by its boundaries, while a nation is defined by its people.

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