Geopolitics and Big Power Interests

(by Willy Østreng)


Geopolitics concerns the relationship between geographical space and international relations – between physical space and national interests. As has been demonstrated, the Arctic attracts political interest from an increasing number of states, European as well as Asian, big as well as small, polar as well as tropic. The Arctic space is gradually assuming a new role in the geopolitics of the world. Six geopolitical features of the region stand out:

  • Its spatial location between three continents,
  • Its abundance of strategically important industrial and mineral resources,
  • Its dwindling sea ice regime opening up new spatial areas of economic exploitation and prospecting,
  • Its sea lanes - inside and outside of the region,
  • Its unique environmental fragility and eco-systemic interconnections with eco-systems in southern latitudes,
  • Its regulatory affinity to existing global ocean conventions, in particular to UNCLOS III.

The interaction of these features is what makes the Arctic space significant in international relations.


    Willy Østreng, 2010, Geopolitics and Big Power Interests, CHNL.©

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