Everyone can see that geography determines the fate of a nation in its pursuit of specific historical paths and the adoption of well understood psycho-nationalist orientations. Without wide seas or tall mountains as natural barriers, over time Russia has developed feelings of distrust towards foreigners and a reasonable nervousness with respect to invasions and external dominance.
For Greece, close proximity to Turkey (which is Islamic and, at times, aggressively hostile) has instilled a mindset that would not have been there if the natural environment were different. The hundreds of sparse islands in the Aegean Sea require massive military spending to provide a fleet to defend them.
Countries like China and Japan with enormous physical barriers to protect them — an endless landmass or a vast ocean — historically have managed to avoid numerous or fatal invasions. The exact opposite is true for countries like Poland, Lithuania, Austria, and the Ukraine, whose lack of strong physical defences has condemned them, over the centuries, to be subjected to external aggression, as well as to serve as pathways for invading armies headed toward their goal of conquest.
Very often, events that determine the fate of a specific country unfold on the basis of the geographic idiosyncrasies of that territory. Greece’s fortunes, for example, were shaped in accordance with the concerns and interests of the great powers of the time. These were always centred on geography.
The Greek state was formed as a result of a radical shakeup in the structure of the Ottoman Empire and by the needs of the dominant powers of the period to handle the emerging geopolitical vacuum. The sea battle of Navarino, on the western coast of the ancient region of Peloponnese, which clearly signalled the ultimate success of the Greek revolution against the Ottomans, rewarded the efforts of Britain, Russia, and France to put an end to the Ottoman control of the islands of the Aegean, Egypt, and the Black Sea.
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