Major Department

Political Science


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Fall 2016

Honors Major Advisor

Rene Rocha

Thesis Mentor

Nicholas Martini


The destruction brought by World War II fashioned an intense fear of any instability in the international system. The primary result of this fear is the institution of the United Nations, which, in turn, has been compelled to undertake a number of state building and peace keeping operations. While the international community has seen success in these operations, many states continue to fail – for these states all variables should be on the table. Among the most under-explored variables in state failure is state geometry; for years, a select few political scientists have attempted to explore the relationship between the two, but with little success, primarily due to a lack of tools and proper datasets. This has changed rapidly with the rise of the information age; new data and new methods now allows us to build precipitously on the work of these scholars. In my paper, using the compactness equation developed by Lewis Fry Richardson for his influential book “The Statistics of Deadly Quarrels,” I seek to analyze how compactness, or the “circularity” of a state, and capital location have affected the number of days of insurgency in a state between the year of 1970 and 2013, which I treat as a proxy for instability. My research suggests that both state shape and capital location have little correlation with the amount of insurgency, while other geospatial variables like physical distance and size have much greater effects. Nevertheless, my research is only a preliminary inquiry; much more research is required to determine how state geometry not only effects the stability of a state, but to also ascertain how it may affect other variables like economics and political representation, in the hope can we build stronger, more prosperous, and more representative states.


Insurgency, Borders, Asymmetric Conflict, Civil War, Capitals, Grievance

Total Pages

48 pages


Copyright © 2016 Ryan Hall

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.