Explanation of the Geopolitical Dimensions of Imperialism and its Territoriality

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran

2 kharazmi


Explanation of the Geopolitical Dimensions of Imperialism and its Territoriality


The industrialization of Europe and the increase of industrial and economic power of Western European countries caused these countries to move to explore and conquer other geographical spaces to supply raw materials for their products, extract resources and raw materials and obtain cheap labor. . This process, known as "imperialism," spread to all parts of the world within half a century of its emergence. In fact, the countries with the gifts of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe considered other geographical spaces as sources and reservoirs of production and wealth, and took advantage of the various realms in the world. This practice has initially aimed at promoting Christianity and helping the industrialization of other countries and later referred to as imperialism by Marxist left-wing theorist.

Today, imperialism is emerging as a theory in various fields of the social sciences. However, the historical course of imperialism linked to geographical and political realities and actions. Among the issues raised in the field of geopolitics is the role of geography in facilitating and promoting this process. According to some theorists, geography initially, with the scientific and instrumental assistance of the political forces of Western Europe, began to identify lands that were rich in resources and strategically of communicative or military value. The connection of imperialism with geographical discoveries and the domination of Western countries over other countries under the name of colonialism, led some geographers, and especially geographers influenced by theories of the critical school, to introduce the science of geography as a colonial and imperialist knowledge. Given the importance of the theory and process of imperialism in geographical issues in general, political, and geopolitical geography in particular, the present study has tried to explain the geopolitical consequences of imperialism.


The present research is fundamental in terms of purpose and descriptive-analytical in nature. The data required for the research have been collected through library sources and documents and have studied in the form of historical processes of imperialism and geopolitical developments.

Results and discussion:

The first great game was the beginning of political imperialism, in which Western European countries sought the resources of other countries. In the meantime, it has claimed that the goal of these colonizers was to bring the interests of Western civilization - especially Christianity - to the "backward" peoples. In fact, the main goal of the colonizers was to find out which one could seize the most territory or colony. The first big game in the nineteenth century pitted Britain against seven major rivals (Christopher, 2015: 455):

• Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands became the first rivals to withdraw from the competition.

France, which had lost most of its colonies due to the revolution and defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.

Russia that expanded its borders in Asia and known as the "land power of Eurasia."

• Germany, which was on the path of development, joined other parts of it in the nineteenth century and became a single economic power.

• The United States, which recently liberated as a colony, is mining the wealth of the peripheral countries.

Between 1870 and 1900, there was fierce competition for the colonies. Britain, meanwhile, had the largest colony (30 countries, including 4.8 million square miles with a population of 88 million). Britain had amassed enormous wealth by exploiting the mines and resources of South Africa. The model of British imperial territory laid down accordingly:

• Financially, the British government must play a guarantor role for monetary and financial flows and take control of the pulse of all trading systems and monetary transactions.

• From a military point of view, the government should build the necessary organizational infrastructure (railways, ports, local offices such as courts, schools, health facilities) and provide military forces to protect them all. Brought.

London treasuries and banks reaped many benefits from this imperialist model, and the British model recognized as a model for international trade. With this process, Britain began the project of absolute domination of the world. The aim of this plan was to make Britain the only hegemonic power in the world, to establish a world financial and economic order based on British ideas, and to have a direct military presence in all strategic regions of the world. Britain, as the undisputed power in the Rimland, controlled the oceans and thus had the ability to limit its rivals, Russia and Germany, in the Heartland. Britain's rivalry with Russia, known as the "First Great Game," led to many attempts by the country to dominate Afghanistan in the nineteenth century.


Imperialism is a geographical phenomenon linked to the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the expansion of capitalist space. The efforts of Western European powers to expand their territory and obtain the basic resources needed for economics and industry, as well as to restrict rivals, have brought imperialism to various stages, each with its own territorial and geopolitical patterns. Has. Accordingly, the present study has used descriptive-analytical method to explain the patterns of territorial expansion in imperialism. The results show that imperialism, from a spatial perspective, has gone through three stages that referred to as the big games. In the first stage, the two geopolitical poles of Britain and Russia recognized as the main powers and the battlefield is in the territory of Eurasia and South Asia. In the second stage, multilateral convergence formed against Germany and then Western European multilateralism against the Soviet Union, and the Middle East and Eurasia remain an important arena for geopolitical rivalries. In the third stage, which began after the collapse of the Soviet Union and continues to this day, the unilateralism of the United States of America is its main and obvious feature. At this stage, the Middle East, Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region have considered as important areas of the territoriality.

Keywords: Imperialism, territoriality, Geopolitics, Competition, Big Games.


Main Subjects

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Volume 54, Issue 2
May 2022
Pages 789-800
  • Receive Date: 06 February 2022
  • Revise Date: 08 June 2022
  • Accept Date: 16 May 2022
  • First Publish Date: 16 May 2022