The Relationship between Economic Development and Regional Geography

Economic geography looks into regions, either locally or abroad, and their financial conditions. Economic growth ensures the improvement of the quality of life, job creation, and wealth. Economic development targets the advancement of the well-being of societies or communities through sustainability in the quality of life. Economic development is anchored in the geographic characteristics of a region. For instance, during the slavery period in Africa, the then rugged terrain played a role in determining who survived. Presently, the rough African terrain still has an impact on transportation of goods to international shipping locations, such as the ports. The paper argues that the development of economy is firmly anchored to the geography of a region; such factors as climate, location, and resources are of primary importance to the economic development of the discussed areas.

Climate and Its Influence on Economy

Stability of an economy may depend on geographic factors, such as climate. Areas prone to natural disasters, e.g. Bangladesh, will be significantly affected in a range of areas, including business operations. Regular hazards, such as landslides, floods, and tornadoes, damage industries, logistics, and homes of citizens. The ability to sustain a viable economy is greatly hindered in such conditions. The geographic location of some countries has benefited them in substantial ways by improving their economies. The Mongol empire was located along the west of the Silk Road of China. It benefited from the busy highway full of merchants. That, in turn, improved the economic power of the empire and gave it at an advantage, enabling the Mongolian empire to thrive. 

Tropical regions have considerably lower development as compared to the temperate areas due to the rampancy of disease and inadequate resources to address the numerous issues that face these nations. Regional geography developed between world wars in parts of Europe and the United States was concerned with the question of what enabled people to separate from regions, acquiring name differentiation. The popularization of economic geography had dramatically increased by World War II in terms of spatial variations, distribution and location of activities of agriculture, and some of the factors affecting the surface of the Earth. Significant territorial differences in geographical farming are caused by differences in the prevailing natural conditions of the localities and the level of production of the production sectors (Meisenzahl & Mokyr, 2011). The levels of productivity influence agricultural development, efficiency in the production, and the expenditures in producing a variety of goods. 

A major factor that contributes to economic success is the availability of resources. These resources may either be abiotic or biotic, renewable or non-renewable. They may also be categorized as potential resources. The latter one may only be used in the future. This type of resources includes petroleum. On the other hand, actual resources are those surveyed and the amount determined in particular areas. The labor available or the manpower required, the location of the production center, and the consumer market facilitate regional development and economic growth. Geographical resources distribution, such as ubiquitous resources and localization of supplies in parts of the world, is paramount for local development to impact the economic development. Rural and urban migration has improved the economic growth since the ancient times (Wheeler & Beatley, 2014). The population density may be attributed to climatic factors, such as areas with low malaria prevalence and moist, temperate climate. A good example of such a region is Eurasia.

The geography of accessibility of rivers to international trade influences population density. For example, eastern Asia and Western Europe record high population due to the availability of navigable waterways to open seas. Geographical population density in the tropics has been high as compared to the temperate climate as a result of minimal effects from diseases, such as malaria. Accordingly, economic development is more visible in the areas that are less prone to such vectors. Movement of ideas, goods, and different varieties of crops along the Asian axis as opposed to across the axis has seen dramatic growth and transformed the economies of these areas. Therefore, economic development is influenced by geography both directly and indirectly.

Economy and Natural Resources

For a prosperous economy, natural resources play a huge role in development and self-reliance. Natural resources, if utilized well, improve economic development through an increase in exports. The geographical location of South Africa has benefited it through the natural occurrence of diamonds and other rare precious metals, making it the largest world reserve. Arguably, these resources define the country in terms of value. In fact, it has one of the world’s largest GDP when one accounts for minerals and metals (Bartik, 2012). Trading of gold and diamonds in the international market mainly contributes to the improvement of the economy of the country. Having a shoreline adjacent to the ocean provides alternative transport means to air and roads, enabling access to other markets (Marais, 2013). Natural highways on the surface of the earth, such as the ones in Palestine which were established as commerce routed, and the wars during the Napoleon Era greatly influenced economic development. In Canada, wheat from Manitoba is brought through Lake Superior and then to Montreal for trading. Diversion of Canada’s trade originating from Lake Hudson. It was created through the great depression of the Mohawk. These naturally produced highways have a dramatic influence on the economics of the nations that contain them. The Lenin-Lenape Indians trail is located between the Delaware post and Amsterdam. It helped in the development of Philadelphia and New York, later developing into a Pennsylvania railroad that runs between the two cities.

Geographical factors aided some political leaders in their rise to power. For instance, the Roman empire arguably gained control due to the geography, because the Alps together with the Apennine mountain ranges protected it from invasions. Whenever threatened, Italians were relatively safe because the mountains divided the peninsula on the Italian side in half, allowing for a counter attack. The strategic geographical location aided in protecting Rome from any external aggression and gave them time to respond to any attack. Volcanic ash made the Roman empire suited for agricultural practices, attracting more settlers due to its potential in growth of crops (Fichera et al., 2015). Improvement of the economic power was attributed mainly to the increased production of agricultural products, which ensured food security. Being strategically positioned at the center of the Mediterranean, Rome benefited from being the focus of trade and commerce.

Geography and economics have helped in the evolution of world relations, including local environments. In comparison to 2,000 years back, the Japanese had very different environmental conditions. The trade expansion economies of Amsterdam and Bristol opened due to accessible waterways, prompting the development of the world. In the eastern part of the Mediterranean, Greece traded in the way of acquisition of merchant fleets due to the broken coastline geography and the limited area provided the most favorable location for present-day sailors (King, 2015). India's geographic position led to improved ability to grow spices as a result of excellent soils. Additionally, having long shores supported transport to the outside world, promoting the economy. As the demand for spices increased due to their good taste and flavor, medicinal capabilities, the traders gained an economic advantage. Due to the scarcity and high demand, prices rose rapidly, improving the country’s economic strength.

From the agricultural perspective, a region’s climate can affect what the country produces and exports. Crops such as cocoa are environment specific, only grow in particular areas, and should be planted within the equator to be marketable. As with these particular requirements, countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana can have high production percentages since their location and climate are highly favorable. Transportation plays a significant role in a country’s economic success. Coastlines provide ports capability to aid in transport and a foundation for bulk carriers. Coasts adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, such as the port of New Orleans, are potential trade hubs, but they are prone to tropical storms and intense destructive hurricanes. Such destructive elements make the Pacific or Atlantic oceans have more success in port trade due to favorable weather conditions as compared to New Orleans.

Geography of Accessibility of Ocean Waters

Accessible shorelines enable easier access to the construction of ports, which allow access to markets for economic improvement. Tolls and shipping services have improved the economy of China by way of the three major ports, which are easily accessible and well located. Countries located in mountainous regions do not have access to cheap transport, and this increases the costs for such countries as Ethiopia. With economic geography, town planning is simplified to facilitate proper preparation for businesses set up after a consideration of the location setup. Terrain and distribution of goods in modern times will be eased as a result of referencing from past economies which relied on geography for successful growth and development. The information on the physical environment, cultural considerations, economic factors, political decisions, and technology advancement will ultimately be considered in the efficiency of the economy and geography.

Water access tends to reduce the cost of trade and enables more access to extensive markets, bringing along a significant advantage over competition and speciality for an efficient market. Any country along an accessible coastline has an economic advantage in the transport of trade goods, and any landlocked nation has a natural tariff due to the high cost of transportation, minimizing the economic power of the country. Coastal economies have a more considerable advantage of connectivity to other coastal economies and have a top hand in lending their services to landlocked economies. Division of labor encourages and favors economic growth due to such factors as high population density in areas like the coastal regions. With hinterlands, coastal regions are highly approved for development. Agglomeration of economies in the Eurasian countries made it possible to diffuse the growth and long-term survival of their economies as compared to the Americas and African nations, which were cut off from the rest of the worlds and could not share trade, market penetration, and developments in agricultural technology. For technology to spread, it is easier to move along the latitude (East-West) as compared to the North-South diffusion way. Ecologies are small worlds in which specific characteristics of plant or animal species operate. Due to their adaptation, the same operational factors may be useless elsewhere.

Soil Geography and Economy

To a large extent, soil geography influences the economy in several ways. In earlier civilizations, areas located in the most fertile regions, such as along the Nile or between Tigris and Euphrates, produced high populations. Such nations later became strong economies due to food security. As discoveries were being made regarding the use of coal as a fuel source, coastal trade in the 16th century between Europe and Asia had a more considerable advantage over the business on land (Frenken & Boschma, 2007). Closeness to sources of coal meant that the countries had an advantage over competitors and invariably benefited from being located in the closest proximity. In the hinterlands, the countries have a significant disadvantage over those situated along the coastal lines. Discoveries of petroleum and development of railroad technology reduced the downside.

Geography affects economic growth significantly in regions like Africa. During the colonization period, most of the valuable resources were shipped off to the metropolies relevant at that time. The vast extraction of natural wealth left these countries without enough assets, and there was a war for the resources left behind, so no one else would benefit from them. Some of the African nations are battle broken and poor even now as a result of colonization. Countries that are affected by colonialism and landlocked have a much harder time accessing international trade, since being landlocked becomes a natural tariff, making it harder to succeed economically. These factors attributed to a lower economy due to loss of business and poor geographic location (Frenken & Boschma, 2007). Tropical soils have a way of losing nutrients faster, and the fact that the nutrients are located in the plants dictates that no plants available make no nutrient available. As with temperate soils, nutrients are found in the ground, making them readily available; when anything is planted, it grows without depending on fertilizers. As soil in the tropics has a higher prevalence of pesticides and parasites, this makes them high fertilizer intensive, since water availability is scarce and the rate of evapotranspiration is faster in these regions (Kemeny & Storper, 2012). These geographic factors have a direct effect on the potential and ability of a country to be an economic powerhouse.


Institutions and Economic Development

Organizations, such as regulatory bodies, unions, lending institutions, and parliament, are fundamental; facilities such as those ensure proper legal systems and aspects, such as adequate infrastructure, to make international commerce a reality. The economy is defined as a machine designed to produce an economic output from inputs, such as technology, labor, and capital. For the inputs to work with success, better education is required to improve the infrastructure necessary as well as the health of the population. Economic development is observed when a party is presented with an opportunity to contribute to society and engage in activities to bring about the realization of their potential.

Massive profits from timber and production of natural products have played a significant role in improving the economies of countries located in South America in the Amazon forests by increasing the market share and raising export margin. In Saudi Arabia, oil is a natural resource. As a major producer, it enjoys the associated benefits, such as monopoly of prices and sales. Regional geography helps to look into the relationship of the industrial development in the original setup within a nation. These national territories, including the vital centers of economic sub-regions, consist of recently developing countries in Latin America and Europe.


As history has shown, geographically advantaged regions of the world such as Europe, have longer coastlines as compared to continents such as Africa. These long shores enable them to have access to all parts of the world in terms of trade. Thus, they have a higher impact in their economies. Geography has a fundamental effect on issues like cost of transport, the fertility of lands in respect to farming and agriculture, and the health of population. The people living in tropical regions are significantly affected as compared to the rest. The access and availability of natural resources, such as mineral deposits, water bodies on international water, and rare materials, are a more considerable advantage to a country’s economy if well utilized. The interactions of geography and development are assessed using factors such as productivity, the total factors of which vary across economies. Factors such as climatic conditions and health conditions are more relevant in certain ecological zones. The distance of transport influences the costs, affecting trade, accessibility to navigable coastlines, and security ultimately factor during operations.