Mackinder, Halford J. 1904. The geographical pivot of history. Geographical Journal 23 (4/April): 421-437.


The thesis argument of the article by Sir Halford John Mackinder “The Geographical Pivot of History” is that there is “some degree so completeness, a correlation between the larger geographical and the larger historical generalizations and this degree is computed by a formula which shall express certain aspects, at any rate, of geographical causation in the universal history where he describes the physical features of the world to exhibit human history as a part of the life of world organism” (422). 

            Apart of being captive of “physical/natural control”, he argues, human actions and the civilization are greatly influenced by “politics/power” where “explosion of social force” is likely to be “re-echoed from another side of the globe, and weak elements in the political and economic organism of the world will be shattered” (422). According to Mackinder, the Earth’s land surface was divisible into:

  • The Pivot Area/ Heartland, comprising the interlinked continents of Europe, Asia, and some parts of Africa. This was the largest, most populous, and richest of all possible land combinations where they used “horses and camel” and “ship” as a means of transportation in both land and water.
  • The Inner or Marginal Crescent, including the British Isles and the islands of Japan.
  • The Outer or Insular Crescent, including the continents of North America, South America, and Australia (435).

With this division of the Earth’s land surface, he discusses “European invasion” in the continental part only, about the geographic barrier to human, and about “The Russian railways” to compare the “land power –the Russian Army owned and the sea-power –the British army owned” (434).

            Thus, he concludes saying that “the actual balance of political power at any given time is the product of geographical conditions, both economic and strategic, and the relative number of virilities, equipment, and organization of the competing people (437).

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