This article is a continuation of the same authors’ study entitled ‘Concepts And Delimitation Of The World’s Macro-Regions’ prepared for the 1/2018 of this journal (
- Regional geography
- geography of the world
- differentiation of the world
- global macro-regions
- concepts and factors of regionalization
Neither the Czech nor the foreign literature focused on global macro-regional delimitation give enough methodological approaches to argue for methods of delimitation. The unsuitable examples provided include some textbooks (Jackson & Hudman 1990; Hobbs & Dolan 2009), as well as the delimitation applied by the United Nations (UN 2012). A code system (M 49) is applied which delimitates macro-regional and sub-regional territories. The borders of the macro-regions are arranged to mirror the borders of the continents (America is delimitated by the North and Latin borders). Continents are sub-divided into four or five units (according to the main cardinal directions, supplemented by the term “Central”). One of the bad examples is that of North Europe, which also includes the Baltic states and the British Isles. Within this, delimitation Czechia is included in East Europe, where the entire Russian Federation is also located!
The authors present their own macro-regionalisation of the world which constitutes a synthesis or a combination of four main concepts, the contents of which are relatively different (those by De Blij & Muller 1997; Cole 1996; Huntington 1996 and Hampl 2009). Hampl’s concept arises from sociocultural identity, economic interrelationships and territorial continuity. It integrates social, cultural and economic elements, while also trying to construct macro-regions as relatively contiguous territorial units on a similar scale (part 4). Along with the concept of the macroregional differentiation of the world itself, we focus on evaluating the importance of dividing the world into macro-regions, assessing the positive and negative features in comparison with the classical, continental division of the world.
The delineation of the macro-regions of the world is a very complicated affair because the creation of comprehensive groupings at this level can only approximately approach an objective reality. Any attempt inherently includes the latent subjective character of those who conduct the delineation and the data they choose to use. However, there will always be a ‘better’ choice among all the possible bad solutions (Anděl & Bičík 2015).
When devising macro-regions of the world, there is the decisive methodological problem of finding the aggregate which would at least generally reflect both social and economic aspects as well as basic political or environmental viewpoints. This concept is probably closest to the differentiation of the world according to civilisations which have a certain degree of integration and constitute the broadest cultural entity (Huntington 1996). Studies focusing on analysing the global system (Wallerstein 1979) should undoubtedly also have an impact on the macro-regionalisation of the world. They are based on the acceptance of the polarity of the node – (semi-periphery) – periphery, not only on the regional level, but also on the global level. This concept has been adopted by a number of geographers (Agnew 1999; Taylor & Flint 1999; Hampl 2014, etc.). Although the reach of these studies is very broad and encompasses political, social and economic aspects, the resulting view of global differentiation tends to be economic in focus.
One important issue is the number of macro-regions. This can vary considerably according to individual authors: from six (continental concept) or eight (Clawson 2007; Huntington 1996) up to fifteen (Morris 1972). The role of a point of departure for macro-regionalisation of the present-day world can be played by the civilisation approach as it includes elements and viewpoints which are not only cultural, but also economic, political, military and social (although often in a mediated way).
The authors’ concept is based on our previous experience in trying to observe the following propositions, as well as technical and methodological inputs. We divide the world into ten relatively homogeneous units (unlike heterogeneous continents), while primarily aiming to evaluate macro-regions as a whole. Secondly, we point out their possible internal regional differentiation. Use is made of the analogous structure of the evaluating factors for all macro-regions, for the sake of their easy comparison. Methodologically, this is a synthesis which combines, above all, four concepts with differing contents: those of De Blij and Muller (1997), Cole (1996), Huntington (1996) and Hampl (2009). The primary factor is sociocultural (civilisation) affiliation, generally reflecting Huntington’s concept and division (1996). The second factor reflects economic interrelationships and, at the same time, similarities in the level of maturity, while the last factor reflects geographic continuity, not only in the sense of territorial continuity, but particularly in the sense of respecting the internal integrity of the macro-areas. In doing so, it integrates social, cultural and economic elements, at the same time trying to devise macroregions as relatively contiguous territorial units with a similar scale (Figure 1).
The delineation of macro-regions is also associated with the major problem of naming them. In individual concepts, the names tend to determine the position of a macro-region on the landmass. This often brings about the creation of a very complicated name, as in the case of South-Western Asia and Northern Africa or, in Huntington’s concept, the names of civilisations. In this publication, the authors partly exploit the names already used by Hampl (2009) in order to view the level of integrity of subglobal systems. The names mostly reflect cultural geographical specificities (Anglo-American, Latin American macro-regions) or the dominance of civilisation aspects (Islamic macro-region). Names are frequently given according to the states dominating a given macro-region (Indonesian, Indian or Sino-Japanese macro-regions). Unlike the macro-regionalisation used by the authors in 2010 (Bičík et al. 2010), there were certain modifications, the most substantial ones being associated with the Sino-Japanese macro-region (Eastern Asia). This was differentiated in the previous variant into two parts – the less advanced macro-region (China, North Korea and Mongolia) and the advanced macro-region (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) of Eastern Asia. There was also a different delineation of the Islamic macro-region (South-Western Asia and Northern Africa).
The authors partly took into account and verified the delineation of macro-regions of the world through mental maps which represent the depiction of individuals’ spatial ideas of the arrangement and regionalisation of the world (such as Saarinen 1988; Polonský et al. 2010; Bláha & Nováček 2016). Aggregated mental maps from groups of addressed individuals provide valuable information in connection with the concepts of regionalisation. This can be exemplified by a study of the mental maps of Czech geography students (Polonský et al. 2010), which presents the delineation of ten macro-regions (Figure 2) and compares this delineation with the concepts of regionalisation in literature. The similarity of the results is far from random, because people’s spatial ideas of the regionalisation of the world are mainly influenced by the media and textbooks. On the other hand, it is obvious that mental maps of individuals from various regions and cultures show considerable differences. This is why the view presented here is that of a member of the Western civilisation circle. As evidenced, for example, by Bláha & Nováček (2016), whose work was devoted to the delineation of the Central European region, the degree of identification of a space with the name of a region whose borders may have a fuzzy character can also be monitored.
The world is differentiated into ten macro-regions in order to maintain the maximum possible homogeneity in terms of social and economic maturity as well as cultural integrity (see Figure 1).
The Basic indicators of macro-regions and integrity level (2016) Notes: GDP … Gross Domestic Product, GDP ppp … Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing power parity, USD … United States dollar, M … male, F … female; *, **, *** level of homogeneity (from bottom up). Source: the World Bank, the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations The The The The The The The The Macro-regions of the world according to population and GDP (2016) Notes: GDP … Gross Domestic Product, GDP ppp … Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing power parity, USD … United States dollar. Source: the World Bank, the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations The
Macro-region Area Population Population per km2 GDP GDP ppp Literacy Life expectancy Homogerneity % % % USD % Age M/ Age F economic cultural European 3.7 7.3 106.0 25.6 38,000 100 78/83 *** *** Anglo-American 16.0 4.9 16.5 25.3 54,000 99 77/82 *** *** Russian 16.2 3.8 13.0 3.2 18,000 100 65/75 *** *** Australian-Oceanic 6.2 0.5 4.5 2.2 35,000 95 75/79 *** *** Sino-Japanese 8.6 22.6 141.0 22.0 16,000 95 66/70 ** *** Indonesian 3.3 8.5 140.0 2.9 10,000 91 68/74 ** ** Indian 3.7 23.7 344.0 3.4 4,000 57 67/70 ** * Islamic 8.9 6.8 41.0 5.8 17,000 75 71/75 ** *** Latin American 15.0 8.5 31.0 7.4 16,000 90 72/79 ** *** African 18.4 13.4 40.0 2.2 4,000 64 57/60 * * Total 100.0 100.0 54.0 100.0 10,000 80 68/72 . . Macro-region Population GDP GDP ppp million % billion % USD 1 European 541 7.3 19.4 25.6 38,000 2 Anglo-American 363 4.9 19.2 25.3 54,000 3 Russian 286 3.8 2.4 3.2 18,000 4 Australian-Oceanic 39 0.5 1.7 2.2 35,000 5 Sino-Japanese 1,668 22.6 16.7 22.0 16,000 6 Indonesian 629 8.5 2.2 2.9 10,000 7 Indian 1,755 23.7 2.6 3.4 4,000 8 Islamic 502 6.8 4.3 5.8 17,000 9 Latin American 630 8.5 5.6 7.4 16,000 10 African 994 13.4 1.7 2.2 4,000 Total 7,407 100.0 75.8 100.0 10,000
Basic indicators of macro-regions and integrity level (2016)
Notes: GDP … Gross Domestic Product, GDP ppp … Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing power parity, USD … United States dollar, M … male, F … female; *, **, *** level of homogeneity (from bottom up). Source: the World Bank, the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations
Macro-regions of the world according to population and GDP (2016)
Notes: GDP … Gross Domestic Product, GDP ppp … Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing power parity, USD … United States dollar. Source: the World Bank, the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations
According to social and economic development, the macroregions are structured into several groups. Clearly, the most advanced are the European and Anglo-American macro-regions, creating over one half of the global economic production. In terms of maturity and GDP per capita, they are joined by the Australian-Oceanic macro-region. Socially and economically, the Russian and Sino-Japanese macro-regions are comparable; similar figures can also be found in the Islamic and Latin American macro-regions. The most critical situation is found in the Indian and African macro-regions, where the GDP per capita according to the purchasing power is ten times lower than in Europe. Over one-third of their population is illiterate. The Indonesian macro-region lies in between these two groups, with relatively good conditions for further development. This primarily relates to social aspects and the high literacy rate. A vital feature that emerges when comparing the macro-regions is the fact that the advanced macro-regions have a low internal economic and cultural differentiation (they are more homogeneous), while these internal differentiations are highest in the poorest macro-regions (see Table 1).
Naturally, this topic requires elaboration, which should focus on two elements: professional and educational levels. As the state of regional knowledge is very bad in Czechia at present, we wanted to prepare a publication concentrated on regional geography that would also serve as a textbook providing a basic overview of the macro-regions of the world for the study of geography at university level (Anděl et al. 2017). The professional elaboration aims to observe the development of the macro-regions delineated in this way from the viewpoint of the development trends of the current globalized world (the problem of growing/ diminishing differences between macro-regions, or the question of whether there is a dominance of divergent/convergent trends when the development of the global system is assessed). Another viewpoint is that of geopolitical forces; furthermore, efforts have been made to specify and try to explain the existence of problem areas/macro-regions and existing conflicts (Hampl 2014). Questions arise in relation to the ‘tension’ between advanced, rich macro-regions on the one hand and poor, backward macroregions on the other. According to Wallerstein (1979), the world is divided into an advanced core, an intermediate semi-periphery and a backward periphery. This raises the question of whether conflicts arise more often in peripheral macro-regions because the core and semi-periphery exploit them. Or, rather, do they arise there because they are outside the main area of interest, meaning that forces appear there which would be under control in more advanced countries? Another topic for consideration is the ‘clashes of civilisations’ in Huntington’s concept within the framework of global macro-regions. Research also needs to be carried out on the macro-regions of the globalized world (people using e-mails, satellite phones, televisions and payment cards and freely roaming the whole world) and the marginalized world, full of ‘forgotten’ people, who have to make do with traditional forms of livelihood or humanitarian aid (Kaldorová 2001).
Our deliberations did not include the situation that arose as a result of the disintegration of the USSR and Russia’s current effort to install its successor in the form of the Eurasian Union. This can be seen as a response to the unipolar world of the late 1990s on the part of Russia, which has never reconciled itself with the loss of its position in the former ‘bipolar world’. China’s economic and political rise in the past decade has confirmed the previous trends of economic development, with crucial volumes of global production and development concentrated on the Pacific coast, both in the USA and, above all, in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (Tomeš et al. 2007). In addition, the dynamic changes occurring in some countries denoted until recently as ‘developing’ (China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Russia) will undoubtedly cause pressures that might influence the future division of the world into macro-regions, as well as the position of these macro-regions in the world. The problems of immigration from developing countries should also be stressed. When it comes to this topic, Europe in particular is unable to create an active defence against the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. At present, Africa has over one billion inhabitants, but forecasts from this century speak of at least a doubling of the African population. This will undoubtedly translate into pressure, especially on Europe. Will it still be the macroregion described here in twenty years’ time?
The deliberations presented here are not definitive because the global system is dynamic, constantly developing. They should be supplemented with some more dimensions to broaden their approach to global issues by looking for some perspective. The first is the stability of the current macro-regions and their internal heterogenization. However, given a topic as complex as the division of the world into macro-regions, this is a very complicated question. The second dimension is the question of so far unfound or even unknown raw materials which could influence the present state of the distribution of macro-regions, the position of individual states and their transformation in the increasingly interconnected world of the future. ‘Spatial reserves’ should be included here; however, these are only at the disposal of some states or macro-regions (Hampl 2010). In our view, the third dimension is the intensifying division of the population of individual countries, both from the perspective of their education (we have in mind not only reading and counting, but, above all, the ability to engage in continued learning, as well as language and computer skills) and in terms of their incomes, life objectives and prospects. Similar deliberations go beyond the framework of the topic discussed, but their impact on the search for the future development of global macro-regions cannot be denied.
Macro-regions of the world according to population and GDP (2016)
|9 Latin American||630||8.5||5.6||7.4||16,000|
Basic indicators of macro-regions and integrity level (2016)
|Macro-region||Area||Population||Population per km2||GDP||GDP ppp||Literacy||Life expectancy||Homogerneity|
|%||%||%||USD||%||Age M/ Age F||economic||cultural|