Small States in the Modern World

Small States in the Modern World

Vulnerabilities and Opportunities

Edited by Harald Baldersheim and Michael Keating

Small States in the Modern World comprehensively assesses the different modes of adaptation by small states in response to the security and economic vulnerabilities posed by global change. It uses a diverse collection of case studies to explore the complexities of change and to place them in their temporal and geographical context.

Chapter 13: Conclusions

Harald Baldersheim

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Being a small state is a risky business, if we are to believe much of the small state literature. Nevertheless, small states multiply, and many prosper. We must assume, therefore, that in the modern world there are also opportunities for small states, not only risks. It is easier, however, to make a catalogue of the risks than of the opportunities. In this book we have tried to analyse both sides of the coin – risks and risk management as well as outlining how small states have responded to opportunities or created new opportunities. Indeed, sometimes the two sides are difficult to separate, as new opportunities grow out of crises and risk management. The cases presented here are mostly success stories: first, a selection of small states with a long history as stable democracies that have successfully adapted to changing circumstances (the Nordic countries and New Zealand); second, states that are being observed in their formative stages as independent polities (the Baltic countries and Slovakia); and third, semi-sovereign polities that aspire to higher levels of independence, if not necessarily full independence (Scotland and Quebec). Analysis of the last two cases yields insights into perceptions of opportunities in the modern world – the visions of regional elites that motivate them to seek more independence for their regions, perhaps one day full independence.

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