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Essay on Does Geography Matter?

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The importance of geography in terms on economic development has been a long disputed topic, yet it is the most obvious explanation to the yawning gaps between several different economies, like the situation between Western Europe and Africa, in which the1820 average GDP per capita in Western Europe was about three times that in Africa; then by 1992, the average was more than thirteen times as high (Gallup, Mellinger, Sachs 1999 p.176). By saying that there is an apparent relationship between geography and economic development, it is meant that the geography of an economy, like location, climate, and natural resources, strongly influences different aspects of the economy, like trade and institution, which, in turn, determine the development. There are three main reason for this argument; firstly, coastal countries generally have higher incomes than do landlocked countries; secondly, nearly all countries in the geographic tropics are poor, and almost all countries in the mid- and high latitudes are rich; lastly, natural resources with in the area of an economy greatly determine how the institution, of such economy, is established and ran. Given these points, after careful examination, it is clear that there is a prominent relationship between geography and economic development as it explains that the geographical variable of location, climate, and resources not only influenced the institution that governs the economy, but the productivity and economic growth itself.
In ordinary discourse, geography is a rather contested concept, so for this purpose, I use the most widely accepted definition of the term, from the Oxford Dictionary, defining it as, “the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features (Simpson, Weine...


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... Mohamed (2013): Natural Resources Endowments and Economic Growth: The West African Experience, in: Journal of Natural Resources and Development, 66-84.

Masters, William A., and Margaret S. McMillan (2001): Climate and Scale in Economic Growth, in Journal of Economic Growth.

McArthur, John W., and Jeffrey D. Sachs (2001): Institutions and Geography: Comments of Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (2000), in: Journal of Economic Literature.

Minns, Christopher (2013): Location, location, location: geography and economic development. Lecture, London School of Economics and Political Science. London, UK. 26 Nov. 2013.

Owoye, Oluwole, and Nicole Bissessar: Bad Governance and Corruption in Africa: Symptoms of Leadership and Institutional Failure, 1-30

Simpson, J. A., E. S. C. Weiner, and Michael Proffitt: Geography, in: Oxford English Dictionary. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.


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