Nation Shapes
The Story behind the World's Borders
by Fred M. Shelley
April 2013, 634pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-105-5
$100, £75, 84€, A143
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-106-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The borders between countries are clearly defined on maps and globes with black lines and different shades of color. In actuality, the boundaries between some states are less clear and often contested, resulting in armed conflicts over border disputes. How did these controversial “lines in the sand” come to be, and how can 21st-century boundary conflicts be resolved amicably?

This book provides a concise and comprehensive description of all of the borders of every country in the contemporary world, including physical boundaries, their historical evolution, and border-related conflicts with other countries.

Nation Shapes: The Story behind the World’s Borders examines the importance of country boundaries, the disconnects between these borders, related factors such as cultures, religions, and economies, and how conflicts over boundaries between neighboring countries are articulated.

The book is organized geographically and by region of the world: the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, East and Southeast Asia, and Australia and Oceania. It provides comprehensive descriptions of the boundaries of each country in the world, the historical evolution of these boundaries, and current and potential future boundary disputes and conflicts. While the work contains an entry for each country, the emphasis is on countries of major importance in the modern global economy.

Fred M. Shelley is professor of geography in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK. His research interests include political geography, the global political economy, and the political, economic, and cultural geography of the United States. His published works include Atlas of the Great Plains (coauthor), Atlas of the 2008 Presidential Election, Engaging Geopolitics, as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and other publications.


"Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, December 1, 2013

"Overall, this is a handy and useful resource . . . the focus on the specifics of borders makes this a unique reference tool."—Booklist, September 1, 2013

"A perceptive guide to geopolitical history and disputes."—Library Journal, July 1, 2013
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