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In this paper we exploit the linear, quadratic, monotone and geometric structures of competitive Lotka-Volterra systems of arbitrary dimension to give geometric, algebraic and computational hypotheses for ruling out nontrivial recurrence. We thus deduce the global dynamics of a system from its local dynamics. The geometric hypotheses rely on the introduction of a split Liapunov function. We show that if a system has a fixed point p ∈ int R+n and the carrying simplex of the system lies to one side of its tangent hyperplane at p, then there is no nontrivial recurrence, and the global dynamics are known. We translate the geometric hypotheses into algebraic hypotheses in terms of the definiteness of a certain quadratic function on the tangent hyperplane. Finally, we derive a computational algorithm for checking the algebraic hypotheses, and we compare this algorithm with the classical Volterra-Liapunov stability theorem for Lotka-Volterra systems.