Jan Henrik Nilsson (Lund University, Sweden)
The territorial structure of the Baltic Sea Area has changed considerably over the last centuries. A dynastic system, often with split-up royal realms and territories, gave way to the modern territorial (nation) state in its different configurations. Following World War 2, two international but separate international systems emerged, based on the dominance of proletarian internationalism and international capitalism respectively.
After 1991 traditional borders increasingly lost relevance, just like territories as such – as a result of European integration and international economic deregulation. Contemporary Europe can increasingly be interpreted as systems of nodes and links, hierarchically centered on major metropolitan cities. The areas in between become peripheries that loose population and suffer from insignificance.
This de-bordered and re-bordered geography is directly reflected in the dynamics of economic interaction, as in the different modes of transportation of which aviation is the most flexible and easily adjustable to change. Based on data from air traffic in the Baltic Sea Area from 1989 onwards, some patterns of the new functional geography of the area will be discussed: for instance the new strong belts of integration, leap-frogging integration, new patterns of international tourism, and new patterns of labour migration.