Buffer States: A Geographer's Perspective
Many countries have served as buffer states since the evolution of the state concept early in mankind's recorded history. This chapter aims to present one geographer's perception of buffer states. It discusses identification of some past and present buffer states and factors important in their evolution from that geographer's point of view. The chapter identifies thirty-two twentieth century buffer states, of which twenty-six possess considerable territory that is either desert or highlands. The physical geography of the buffer is a most important factor in that it may have served as a physical barrier separating the powerful states or served as a funnel of invasion that made the buffer states' vicinal location important to competing states within the region. The development of buffer status in several states, namely Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Iran, Nepal, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia, owes much to their location as invasion routes or points of contact between differing peoples.