Defining the Small State
Methods for determining whether a state is "small" are almost as many as there are "small states". Smallness has been defined objectively: such as number of inhabitants, geographical area, size of economy and military strength, as well as subjectively: such as domestic and foreign actors' view of the state’s size and capabilities. Some also say that it is the state's own perception of its size that determines whether a state is small. In this way, states such as Monaco and Fiji can been seen as small states, just as Iceland is considered small in comparison with Sweden, while Sweden is seen as small in comparison with Germany. While a universal definition of the small state seems elusive, scholars must, however, take account of the difference in sizes of states/entities in each and every case study. Otherwise they are in danger of overlooking an important explanatory variable, that of smallness.
About the Speaker
Baldur Thorhallsson is Head and Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Iceland. He is also Jean Monnet Chair in European Studies, and Programme and Research Director at the Centre for Small States at the University of Iceland. He established the Centre for Small State Studies in 2002. His research focus is primarily on small state studies, European integration and Iceland’s foreign policy. In 2017, he is the Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University of London.