"How Geography Affects Economic Development".
There are many countries in the world that are prosperous. Their economy is strong and their people enjoy the benefits that come from having a strong economy. Many countries, though, are not so fortunate. Their economies are weak and their people are considered to be the poorest in the world. Many of these countries are located below 20 degrees latitude. Indeed, the notion that a country's geography determines its prosperity is very controversial. People from these countries are offended at such a connection because it seems racist and it undermines the notion of equal opportunity for all nations and individuals. What causes these countries to be less fortunate? What can policymakers and politicians do or promise if nothing can overcome geography? In this essay, we will examine why these countries do not seem to be able to become the economic powers that their northern counterparts have become.
Closing the income gap between the rich and the poor countries has been a goal of the international community for the last 50 years. This common goal has caused the creation of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, aid agencies in the governments of the most prosperous economies, and countless non-governmental organizations (World Politics, pg. 41). But the global gap between the rich and the poor countries has not closed. Instead, it has widened. The countries that have not prospered have two distinct geographical characteristics: They tend to be located in tropical regions or, because of their location, have trouble competing in world markets because of large transportation costs. Some of these countries even have both of these problems to contend with. Of the 24 countries that are classified as industrial, not one lies between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, except for the northern part of Australia and part of the Hawaiian Islands.