"The Geographical Pivot of History" is an article submitted by Halford John Mackinder in 1904 to the Royal Geographical Society that advances his heartland theory. In this article, Mackinder extended the scope of geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire globe.
According to Mackinder, the Earth's land surface was divisible into:
- The World-Island, comprising the interlinked continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa (Afro-Eurasia). This was the largest, most populous, and richest of all possible land combinations.
- The offshore islands, including the British Isles and the islands of Japan.
- The outlying islands, including the continents of North America, South America, and Oceania.
The Heartland lay at the centre of the world island, stretching from the Volga to the Yangtze and from the Himalayas to the Arctic. Mackinder's Heartland was the area then ruled by the Russian Empire and after that by the Soviet Union, minus the Kamchatka Peninsula region, which is located in the easternmost part of Russia, near the Aleutian Islands and Kurile islands.
Later, in 1919, Mackinder summarised his theory thus:
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island commands the world.
— Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, p. 150
Any power which controlled the World-Island would control well over 50% of the world's resources. The Heartland's size and central position made it the key to controlling the World-Island.
The vital question was how to secure control for the Heartland.
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