A Level Geography Edexcel SuperPowers


Superpowers Revision Notes:

7.1 Causes of Geopolitical power

7.1A: Defining Characteristics of powers

7.1B: Hard and Soft Power

7.1C: Theories of Growth

Superpowers, emerging and regional powers can be defined using contrasting characteristics (economic, political, military, cultural, demographic and access to natural resources)

A superpower is a country withthe ability to project its dominating power and influence anywhere in the world. E.g. USA

Emerging superpowers are countries with a large role in one of more superpower characteristics, and with growing influence. E.g. China, Brazil, India, Russia

Regional powers can project dominating power and influence over other countries within the continent or region. 

E.g. UK, Germany, France in Europe. Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East. South Africa and Nigeria in Africa.

Superpower Characteristics
1) Economic

Large GDP, high % of international trade, currency used as reserve currency.  A large GDP creates influence as a potential market and as the home of TNCs which create FDI. Underpins the other 5 characteristics, The USA has the world's largest total GDP - $18.5 trillion

2) Political

The ability to influence the policies of other countries through the dominance of negotiations. (Both bilaterally and through international organisations.)

Many international organisations do not equally weight members. 

Voting power may be determined by economic contribution, historical role in founding of organisation (UN), population etc...

Often due to dominance in other characteristics. E.g. large economy gives it power in trade talks, military power can make countries a threat - giving them political power.

3) Military

Military power with a global reach means they can be used to achieve geopolitical goals 

Global influence through blue water (ocean going) navy and drone, missile and satellite technology.

Indicators of power: army size, defence spending, nuclear weapons, inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), size of blue water navy, being a major arms exporter, presence on/leading international military organisations.    

Dependent on demographic power: the number of military personnel that can be deployed. Dependent on economic power: budget determines investment in military technology, which increases power. Russia has the most active nuclear warheads (1790) The USA is in second place with 1750.

4) Cultural

The ability to influence the beliefs, values, ideology, and way of life in other countries. ​

Achieved through: 

the dominance of media (films, radio, television, internet, education) TNCs or migrants introducing cultural products (food, clothing, music, religion)

imposition of viewpoint in international agreements

Indicators: global spread of music, fashion, food, language, religion

The USA has the highest percentage of the world's 20 largest TNCs - 27%. 

5) Demographic

A large population -> a large diaspora and workers at TNCs

Assists economic power through a large market and economies of scale (so more profit). 

Means army can be larger. 

China has the largest population - 1382 million.

6) Resources

Control of access to physical resources: energy, minerals

Provides inputs for economic growth. Means they can be exported at a high price -> economic power. e.g. OPEC and oil. May be internally located or accessed through reliable source countries through transport pathways. Essential for military power 


No comments have yet been made