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A Superpower is a state with a leading position in the international system and the ability to influence events throughout the world. The concept of a superpower has developed to include Economic, Cultural, Geographical and Military influence. (E.G development of USA and the BRIC’s)

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Power can be obtained through: capitalism = where land is privately owned

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1) Size (land area) communism = socialism that abolishes

2) Population private ownership (they are

3) Resources (oil, coal) owned by state)

4) Military indicators

5) Economic Indicators

6) Religion/belief systems

7) Global Influence

Wealth –> Allows superpowers to export their power around the world buy resources and influence trade patterns.

Cultural power –> it’s about exerting influence through the media to spread culture.

Geographical power –> the sphere of influence a superpower has on other countries. (For example: Britain has given other countries our language.

Military power –> Today military power means access to nuclear weapons, a countries military weapons reflects the power they have.

The Colonial Rule:The British Empire was former British controlled territory. (Group of colonies brought under British rule)

Presidential Palace – Delhi

The navy provided a link between home country & overseas colonies. NAVY = MILITARY POWER!!

2nd world war – UK went bankrupt – couldn’t support empires, the colonies pushed for independence and most became independence by 1970’s

1945-1990 ‘The Cold War’

Between the USA and the Soviet Union!!

After WW2 the two superpowers emerged.

USA –> Policy to globalise its sphere of influence and become a stronger player in the world.

USSR –> (Unions of soviet specialist’s republic) didn’t agree with belief & politics of USA, USSR took advantage of collapsed countries in EU & Enforced a communist regime.

However the Soviet Union began to collapse:

* In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. He reshaped the economy and allowed some private business in a process called Perestroika.

* He allowed them more freedom however new policies caused food and medicine shortages.

* His methods sparked demand for democracy in Eastern Europe.

* 1989-1991 – states within the USSR claimed independence and the Soviet Union fell apart.

Fall of the Soviet Union:



Leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev

Formation of common wealth of independence state

Openness to democratic ideas

Loss of role as world superpower

Reshaping of economy and government

End of cold war

Economic problems

Economic hardship

Freedom movement in Eastern Europe

Conflicts between pro communist and pro democratic groups

Minority revolts and civil conflicts

Implications of shifting power!

* US national intelligence council suggested the BRIC’s would grow at the expense of the USA and the EU.

* There would be increasing conflict over resources such as food, water and fuel

* Major issues regarding dealing with climate change, trade and market access.

Emerging superpowers provide the developing world with new opportunities?

==> Many rich countries direct high % of foreign aid to peripheral countries, which binds the nations

==> Some periphery countries are gaining economic independence through 2 ways:

* Nationalisation – Government buying businesses from company shareholders or claiming the company.

* Countries have formed cartels.

Case studies:

OPEC, an oil cartel!!

The organisation of petroleum exporting countries was established in 1960 to counter oil price cuts by USA and EU oil companies.

* 1979 Opec countries produced 65% of world petroleum

* 36% by 2007, decreased due to lack of excess pumping capacity.

Growth of China

==> MEDC companies will invest in order to sell their products in an emerging market

==> Consumers benefit from cheap products that are mass produced in China

==> Could lead to a decline in US economy as India and china pay lower wages and produce goods more competitively

==> Western countries worried that Chinese influence in Africa is stronger than EU and USA

==> Increased environmental impact e.g. Transport emissions, acidification and poor air quality

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Kylie Garcia

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