It seems to me that northern nations have more than held their own against southern neighbours. Even when those southern neighbours outnumber their northern cousins. (Full disclosure: I am a Canadian, the second most northern land there is. That’s right I’m a stinking northern latitudinist – you have the freedom to become a southern latitudinist and dispel all my theories and come up with points of your own.)
In the middle ages the Vikings scared much of maritime Europe. As well as being dominant on the sea (they were the first Europeans to discover the Americas) they also made straightforward land invasions like on the isle of Britain. Vikings were seriously outnumbered by their enemies but instead of losing militarily, they seem to have died out on their own.
Northern raiders like the Mongolians were so feared by the Chinese that they built their huge wall to defend against them. In the 1200’s the Mongolians took China (as well as what is now most of Russia). Again a small northern population had a large southern population at its mercy.
Historically, Canada has fended off the Americans and kept its national integrity. In the early years, Canada relied on Britain to keep the Americans at bay. But sneakily, when the British were warring against Napoleon, the Americans decided to strike. With only some British soldiers stationed in Canada, Canada fended off the Americans in the War of 1812. Americans were surprised that there was any fight at all. After a couple years of fighting, nothing was settled and Canadian/American borders were left unchanged. Gradually tensions eased and eventually Canada became a full fledged nation and the border became the world’s longest undefended border.
I also believe that there is not just a northern dominance, there is also a southern one. In other words, I think this dominance flips on the other side of the equator. More southerly South Africa, seems to dominate its less southerly neighbours. But in that case, South Africa has the population advantage. Argentina seems to manage to keep its territory just fine even though less southerly Brazil has a much larger population. It’s not like there is no antagonism between these two countries.
There seems to be a pattern here. What do I make of it? I think that more northerly people don’t mind a warmer climate whereas the less northerly do mind the colder winters. I know I say it about different people in my own country. The lowest temperatures we get where I live, southern Ontario, are -25 degrees Celsius. Whereas the Canadian prairies can get temperatures as low as – 40 degrees. I promise to myself that I’ll never visit in the winter. But those same prairie people don’t mind visiting me in the winter.
As well there are technological changes you have to deal with if the weather gets colder. Those prairie people have cars, too, and at -40 degrees their cars just won’t start. So they heat their engines on those cold days.
And in the biggest war of the last century, colder Russia fended off Nazi Germany which had the resources of most of continental Europe, but which also has a nicer climate. I think the Germans were unprepared for war in a colder climate.
Not only are there technical differences, but warmer countries probably see the cold alone as a hardship. So what happens when you successfully invade a country? You have to hold it. Those German soldiers would have to be stationed in Murmansk and Siberia in order to hold their gains. Not a pleasant long term thing for those Germans.
But things have changed since World War II with south to north immigration. Northern strongholds became so pleasant and nice places to live that people from the south have immigrated to Northern Europe and North America. They have handled the elements as well as any northerner and gradually become technically adept at everything in these lands. I think the north might have lost its edge. Should we northerners be worried? Will those southerners want revenge?
But maybe these newcomers are just part of our new society. Perhaps the north has kept its edge due to the fact we have to keep civilized. Else we won’t survive the winter. Southern places are just that much more forgiving.