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The Dis-United States?

August 25, 1992|Robin Wright

We may think of the U.S. borders as among the most permanent in the world, but even this country is not immune from the forces that a panel of political geographers see reshaping the globe.

Even as the just-negotiated North American Free Trade Area takes shape, for example, Canada appears to be on the verge of losing Quebec. Over time, the stranded Maritimes could join the United States, while Alberta and Saskatchewan merge and go their own way, and the Indian- and Eskimo-dominated north joins a polar confederation, the geographers said.

In turn, the western U.S. and Canadian states now integrating their economies with Asia's Pacific Rim--Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon--may also be emboldened to create their own "zone," either autonomous or independent. The geographers tentatively dubbed the new state, stretching from the Artic's Beaufort Sea to the sunny climes of northern California, "Pacifica."

On the other U.S. border, the increasingly fuzzy demarcation line between the United States and Mexico could evolve into another new zone, tentatively called "Angelica" by geographers. The rest of Mexico may then fragment into three or more parts.

The overall result: Instead of three large states, NAFTA could eventually contain a dozen smaller pieces--or more.

Even after losing Pacifica and Angelica, the U. S. may be vulnerable to further splits. A map designed by Stanley D. Brunn, an International Geographical Union panelist from the University of Kentucky, divides America into seven other independent or autonomous zones, not necessarily coinciding with current state boundaries.

21st-Century North America? Economics will help redraw the continent's boundaries, dividing America, creating a Pacific Rim zone and blurring the U.S.-Mexican border, some believe.

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