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Maps of political systems in chronological order

Maps courtesy of used with permission.

Here, in a chronological order I would like to present a few maps that shows political systems of different countries at various moments of history.

If you are looking for historical maps, you can find useful links in The World History Rewritten section (list of topics).
Plus here is the link to Historical Atlas of XXth Century and some three-dimensional maps.
It is useful to compare classification of political systems in this Atlas with the classification shown below. And then to read again classification of political system I propose.

Here is the basic legend for the maps:

  • YELLOW indicates feudal system
  • RED indicates populistic system
  • BLUE indicates democratic system
  • WHITE means "no reasonable data" or "no country" (pre-feudal barbarian lands).
  • GREEN means that there is very hard to determine political status, because of the dependent status of green-marked countries.

Map shows today's borders to simplify overall pattern for those of readers who are not accustomed to historical maps and are little schematic (look at eastern border of Poland on the map of Europe, it looks rather strange), as most of the maps form are.

There could be some mistakes in classification, but (I hope) only a few.

First map presents the first ancient civilizations

ancient civilizations schematic map
Corrections: november 2005

As you can see, firsts civilizations were feudal like Egypt and China, or populistic like Sumer civilization, Minoan civilization, Mohenjo-Daro & Harappa civilization (probably), and Majan civilization.

  • Brown arrows indicate the major directions of expansion of civilizations
  • Blue arrows shows migrations of the Indo-European tribes launched  (probably) by the expansion and fall of Minoan civilization 

Important note: civilizations presented here are not contemporary, especially American civilizations are about 2000 years younger than civilizations of the Old World 

Here is a map of Mediterranean region during Greek colonization (850 - 450 BC)

Greek colonization schematic map
Aesthetic corrections: november 2005
  • Red arrows indicates directions of Greek city-states expansion.
  • Blue arrows indicates directions of Phoenician city-states expansion.
  • Gray arrow indicates directions of Etruscan city-states expansion.
  • Green arrows shows expansion of the Celtic tribes launched by the fall (crisis) of Etruscan city-states.
  • Orange is used to mark Macedonia that was feudal state but in times of Philip II (father of Alexander the Great, about 360 BC) became populistic.

And now the map of Roman Empire at the end of the democratic period

Roman Empire 133 B.C. schematic map
  • Dark blue color indicates the the city-state of Rome (the core of the empire)
  • Light blue color indicates all the countries conquered or incorporated by Rome before 133 BC.
  • And many neighbouring feudal countries marked yellow were clients or allies of Rome.

Next map show populistic Roman Empire at the peak of its power

Populistic Roman Empire schematic map
i.e. end of IInd century AD.
  • Red indicates populistic lands inside of the borders of Roman Empire (generally Italy nad Greece were the core of Empire).
  • Orange indicates feudal lands ruled by Rome.

Dusk of the Medieval dawn of the Renaissance

Europe in XV century, political systems map

In the Medieval Ages most of the countries (except periodically populistic Byzantine Empire, and some Italian city-states) were feudal states, so next maps shows Europe in XV century.

There were few populistic states in northern Italy, populistic Switzerland Union, and one big populistic country: Turkey that was just about to build a great empire (the Osman Empire - red border show its conqueries in the middle of XVth century). Plus there were some populistic free cities in northern Europe. It is important to note that this map is little simplified, and some populistic countries should be drawn as the Republic of the Great Novogorod (in northern Russia) was: a small red populistic city-state, and lands conquered by that state marked using a red border line .

Brown indicates Bohemia that was populistic for a short period (since the Hussites heresy, about 1419-1436).

I am not sure about the political system of Portugal in XVth century.

Next map shows Europe in the second half of the XVII century (1642-1689)

Europe in the second half of XVII century, map of political systems

There were only a few populistic states (but they are larger than former city-states): England (since The English Revolution, more or less 1642), Netherlands, Switzerland, and city-states of the Northern Italy (that had fallen into stagnation because of trade route shift at the beginning of XVI century - a concequence of great discoveries). Turkey (Ottoman Empire) was no longer populistic, because large conquered territories launched diffusion process that turned Turkey back into feudal state. The most powerful populistic state were Netherlands.

Map of the XVIII century Europe (before the Great French Revolution)

Europe in XVIII century, map of political systems

This map looks almost the same as previous one, but there is one important change: England after the Splendid Revolution (1689) became the first democratic country (in modern times), and therefore is marked blue.

New agricultural technologies, and "industrial revolution" at the end of XVIIIth century allows cities to grow ever bigger than before, so since then all changes of political systems are irreversible (we can no more observe situation when democratic system turns back to populistic or populistic country turns back to feudal).

And here is the World in 1845

World in 1845, map of political systems

This map shows the World after The Great French Revolution (1789) that made France a populistic country, and national revolutions in Latin America (1815-1830). But just before the Spring of Nations (1848) when most of the Central European Countries (ex. Germany, Austria, and Southern Italy) become populistic. There were only a three democratic countries these tmes: Great Britain, Sweden, and (probably) Belgium. Plus two federal countries which were partially democratic, and partially populistic: Switzerland and USA (generally. southern states and frontier states were populistic).

There were some feudal countries in Africa but I have not enough data to draw their borders, so these states are not marked here. 

Next map shows the World in 1875

World in 1875, map of political systems

There were a few new democratic countries: Netherlands, Switzerland (both since 1848), USA (since 1865) and French (after the war with Germany that was ended in 1871). One relatively new (since 1868), and important populistic country is Japan. Countries marked brown in Balkans are just going to become independent populistic countries.

Here the World before the First World War

World before the First World War, map of political systems

Three big populistic states (Russia 1905, Turkey 1909, and China 1910) destroyed the balance between democratic, and populistic countries. Furthermore the end of colonial expansion (including USA expansion) made wars relatively more profitable option for great non-democratic powers, so the World War was unevitable

I have no data to determine status of some Arabic countries, so they are marked white.

Since 1911 there were no more independent, feudal countries. I will use orange to mark populistic countries that are changing to democratic system.

Now there is a map of Europe after the Second World War

Europe after the Second World War, , map of political systems

After the  Second World War a few new democratic countries appeared in Europe: Germany, Italy, Austria, and Finland.

Poland was marked orange because it could become democratic (after 1944) but Soviet Union domination freezes the political changes for a few decades. The same happens to other Central European countries: West Germany (after 1953), Hungary (after 1956), and Czechoslovakia (after 1968). I should mention here that I have a little problem with the classification of political system of Czech (Bohemia) between World Wars (1919-1939).

And map of the World after the Second World War

World after the Second World War, map of political systems

You propably noticed two more democratic countries: Japan, and Israel, and there were several new populistic countries in the Middle East, in East Asia, and of course India (the biggest of them). 

World in 1963

World after de-colonization of Africa, map of political systems

Then came the end of European colonial domination in Africa (except a few Portuguese colonies), so I should present the map of World in 1963.

Since then there are (probably) no more feudal countries.

Here is the map of Europe in 1978

Europe in 1978, map of political systems

In the middle of 70-ties a few populistic countries in Europe became democratic (Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland). It was a prelude to more dramatic political changes that will start after 1989.

After the 1989 we can observe probably the greatest changes in the World history. Several dozens of countries which were populistic become democratic (and this process continues). Before 1989 only about 850 millions of people lived in democratic countries (about 15% of the World population). Today in democratic countries live about 3000 millions of people (over 50% of the World population). Below a few maps illustrating these changes. Of course, I was not able to trace situation in all countries of the World, so there could be some mistakes, especially in classification of African, and Central American countries.

Here the first map documenting these changes

Europe after the fall of Soviet Union, map of political systems

Europe in 1992 (after the fall of Soviet Union). Compare that picture with the map above.

And the World in 1992

World in 1992, map of political systems

As you can see, there are several new democratic countries, mainly in Central Europe, and Latin America. A few countries: Taiwan, South Korea, and Thailand became democratic in South East Asia. An of course South Africa in the very south end of Africa.

Next map shows the World in 1997 (the year of the Asian Crisis)

World in 1997, map of political systems

In 1997 most of the Central European and Latin America countries were democratic (or have been started to change into a democratic system). And we can't of course forget about some countries like: Indonesia, Iran, and (the most important) India, which started to change to a democratic states more or less that year. I have marked orange Turkey, but here (similarly like ex. in South Korea or Brasilia) the process of changes was very gradual, so there is hard to point out when a democratic system begins. 

World at the beginning of XXI century (2000/2001)

World at the beginning of XXI century, map of political systems

End of the millennium deserves a separate map.

And finally, map of the World today (2003)

World today (middle of 2003), map of political systems

In a very short time we could expect that a few other countries will become democratic. For sure Russia, and maybe some countries from Middle East, and southern coast of Mediterranean Sea. I have marked these countries with yellow dots (WARNING: my theory is already obsolete, so you should forget about YELLOW DOTS - september 2007). And there is a slight chance that I am mistaken about Iraqi.

All maps here were prepared before July 2003. But the first five maps were little corrected when I was writing "General History Rewritten".

If you see that political system of particular country reverses on next maps (i.e. color changes from blue to red or orange, or from orange to red) it does not mean that political system reversed here. It means only that I am correcting a mistake in classification like in the case of Haiti (see some remarks about 1993) - because of limited available data I sometimes have to guess the political system.

Stylistic corrections, January-February 2006
Slawomir Dzieniszewski

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