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On the size and shape of African states

Green, Elliott D. ORCID: 0000-0002-0942-5756 (2012) On the size and shape of African states. International Studies Quarterly, 56 (2). pp. 229-244. ISSN 0020-8833

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00723.x


African state size and shape have been previously shown to be correlated with negative development outcomes, no one has heretofore examined the origins of either phenomenon. Here, I show that African state size and shape are not arbitrary but are rather a consequence of Africa's low pre-colonial population density, whereby low-density areas were consolidated into unusually large colonial states with artificial borders. I also show that state size has a strong negative relationship with pre-colonial trade and that trade and population density alone explain the majority of the variation in African state size. Finally, I do not find a relationship between population density and state size or shape among non-African former colonies, thereby emphasizing the distinctiveness of modern African state formation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 International Studies Association
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 10:00
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:57

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