What are the historical reasons for varying levels of national development?
Colonialism has had a significant impact on development. Colonialism is the policy or practice of taking full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
During the 1700s and 1800s, a large proportion of the global south was colonised by European countries including Portugal, Spain, Britain and France. The reasons for colonisation was to access raw materials and labour to compete with other global powers at the time. Many countries that were colonised in South America, Asia and Africa we badly affected. This is especially the case for those that became part of the transatlantic slave trade.
Many colonised countries gained independence in the twentieth century. For example, India gained independence from the UK in 1947. However, independence brought problems to a number of countries. For example, when the Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960 it is reported that there were only 14 university graduates in its population.
Many political problems, conflicts and disputes in the world today stem from colonisation. Many areas in Africa, Asia and the Middle East were carved up and re-defined by European countries. However, this resulted in the borders of many countries changing, mixing different ethnic groups. Five million deaths resulted from conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda in the 1990s.
Over 6 million people in Syria have been made homeless as the result of conflict since 2012. More than 3 million of these people are under 17 and the overwhelming majority are no longer in education.
How is development affected by economic factors?
During the 1800s European nations took raw materials they needed from colonised countries. Nowadays, transnational corporations (TNCs) buy raw materials from former colonies for relatively low prices. This has a negative impact on economic development in many LICs. Prices are low because not enough has been done by organisations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure fair terms exist in the global trade of raw materials and food. In some LICs corrupt officials have personally benefitted from selling resources cheaply. Also, food prices fluctuate depending on supply and demand.
Newly emerging economies have benefited from global trade. Countries, such as China, have benefitted from developing their manufacturing industries. This has led to significant economic growth.
What role do physical factors play in the development process?
Development can be hindered by physical factors. However, physical factors alone can’t be blamed on physical factors. For example, Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world despite it being located in one of the world’s most active tectonic zones, resulting in regular earthquakes. The United States of America frequently experiences hurricanes but is highly developed.
Climate can have a significant impact on development. Countries located in North Africa, in the Sahara and Sahel regions, face significant challenges including high temperatures, desertification and a lack of fresh water. However, these can be overcome with human ingenuity.
Areas prone to natural disasters also face challenges to development. For example, Haiti, in the Carribean, experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010. 230 000 people died as the result of the Haiti earthquake. The country, as one of the poorest in the world, is still recovering. However, although 22000 people died or were missing in the 2011 Japan earthquake many of the areas that were affected have now recovered.
Countries without a coastline also face challenges to development. With only several exceptions the world’s 45 land-locked countries are LICs or NEEs. Without a port trade with other countries is challenging.