The Problematics of Defining Small States

  • Petar Kurečić
  • Hrvatski geografski glasnik/Croatian Geographical Bulletin, April 2013, University of Zagreb, Department of Geography
  • DOI: 10.21861/hgg.2012.74.02.05

The Problematics of Defining Small States

What is it about?

The concept of small states has seldom been challenged in science, because of refusal to accept the possibility of grouping the characteristics of a dynamic world, such as states, into categories. The variability of quantitative and qualitative criteria that have been applied in defining small states open up possibilities of combining two or more criteria, giving us various definitions of small states.

Why is it important?

Small states comprise between one half and two thirds of all the world's states. Small island states comprise more than half of all small states in the World. Regardless of their differences, several attributes can be identified that are common to the small states.


Professor Petar Kurecic
University of the North Croatia

Because of their vulnerability and objective weakness in relation to the other, larger states, small states advocate international relations based on multilateralism and the equality of all subjects. The possibility of establishing and exploiting the exclusive economic zones, that cover millions of square kilometers in the world oceans, has increased the importance of small states. Small island states have common socio-economic attributes that evolve from their island character and great distances between the islands or archipelagos that belong to one state, especially in Oceania. Through the development of international trade, financial transactions and the development of tourism on the global level, small island states have managed to improve their economic position in the world. However, they remain very dependent on fluctuations on the markets and world economic flows, much more than large states. Besides these socio-economic weaknesses, small island states possess weaknesses that arise from their natural basis, which make them very vulnerable to ecological risks.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Petar Kurecic