Eurasian Geography and Economics
, No. 2, pp. 123-155.
Copyright © 2005 by V. H. Winston & Son, Inc. All rights reserved.
A New Russian Heartland: The Demographic and
One of Russia’s leading geographers provides a detailed assessment of the demo-
graphic and economic dimensions of the new Russian Heartland, supplementing and extend-
ing the analysis provided in the preceding paper in this issue (Bradshaw and Prendergrast,
2005). He presents intriguing comparisons of Russia’s place in the world relative to other
global powers for benchmark years during the 20th and early 21st centuries, before examin-
ing spatial shifts in key indicators of Russia’s population distribution and economic activity
over the same period. Subsequent sections of the paper address Russia’s shrinking “effective
territory” during the 1990s, and by extension the “overpopulation” of its northern regions.
Journal of Economic Literature
, Classification Numbers: F02, O10, O57. 16 figures, 8 tables,
79 references. Key words: Russian Heartland, effective territory, regional change, per capita
ome one hundred years ago Sir Halford Mackinder (1904) anticipated the geopolitical
environment that prevailed in the mid-20th century. He foresaw the conflict over the
World Island and the eventual consolidation of the heartland, creating Eurasia’s “red belt”
(from the Elbe to the Mekong Delta) surrounded by opposing alliances in the rimlands.
Later David Hooson (1964) provided a geoeconomic analysis of the Soviet industrial shift
eastward. Hooson’s judgement concerning the industrial extension to the east and the rein-
forcement of the heartland also has been confirmed by history, even though his analysis
pre-dated the opening of the Tyumen’ oil fields in West Siberia.
Writing just before the Russian revolution, a contemporary of Mackinder’s, Benyamin
Semenov-Tyan’-Shanskiy (1915) distinguished three forms of empire: circular (the Roman
Empire), “patchy” (the British Empire, or other overseas colonization), and compact “from
sea to sea” (the United States and Russia). For much of the subsequent Soviet era, however,
further Russian work on geopolitics was dismissed by those controlling the heartland as
aggressively imperialist and reactionary pseudo-science.
However, if the phantom of
Mackinder still roams the political corridors of Washington, the phantom of Genghis Khan
Leading Researcher, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, 29 Sytaromonetnyy pereulok,
109017 Moscow, Russia.
The term “rimland” was used originally by Nikolas Spykman (1944) to denote states that surrounded the
Throughout the Soviet period, geopolitical thinking was developed by Soviet émigrés known as
whose works were published in their homeland some 70 years later (Savitskiy, 1997). The research presented in this
article was funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, award number: RES-223-25-0039.