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Heartland theory by Mackinder

This theory was developed in 1904 by J. Mackinder. His geopolitical theory argued that ultimate power is dependent on geographical location. The continuous struggle can be seen between continental and ocean power, the ultimate victory will be for continental power. 

As per Mackinder world is divided into 4 landmasses based on geopolitical strategies and these are:
  • The heartland
  • World Island
  • Inner crescent
  • Outer Crescent

The Heartland:
Heartland comprises the central part of Eurasia and surrounding by mountainous fortresses on three sides and the Arctic Ocean on the North. It is not accessible by sea power as the mountain works like a fortress.

World Island:
World Island is comprised of Eurasia and Africa which are 2/3rd of the world area.

Inner or marginal crescent:
The heartland is surrounded by an Inner or marginal crescent. It includes Western Europe, West Asia, Indian subcontinents, Southeast Asia, and eastern China.

Outer or Insular Crescent:
North America, South America, Australia.

Theory can be explained in the following ways:
  • Whoever has control of eastern Europe will rule the heartland.
  • Whoever has control of the heartland will rule the world island.
  • Whoever has control of the world island will rule the world.

Useful of this theory:
The following are important:
  • This theory explains the geopolitical concept and emphasized the importance of geographical location in world political and economic power.
  • Some believed that this theory inspired Germany to invade Russia in order to control the heartland during World war-2.
  • During the Cold War,  the USA and USSR tried to control eastern Europe and the inner crescent landmass.


  • Today it is not applicable. The world has developed missiles and space technology that can be used in any part of the world. So the mountain fortress of the heartland that was talking about Mackinder is unnecessary.
  • Overemphasis on the heartland was unnecessary.
  • Theory ignored the importance of outer crescent countries such as America and Australia.

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