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Less Developed Countries

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Less Developed Countries, Poverty and Challenges to “Development”

Jacqueline Yust
Pittsburg State University
World Regional Geography
Dr. C. Hooey
June 19, 2013 Many countries today face overwhelming political, cultural, economical and geographical challenges that lead to poor development. The world 's poorest countries are referred to as less developed countries (LDCs). Today, there are 48 countries that are designated by the United Nations as the world 's least developed countries, but many other countries also face the same challenges. Based on three criteria, every three years the United Nations categorizes these countries. The first of these three criteria is based on per capita income of the country. The countries ' average gross national income over the course of three years is analyzed and if the average is less than $992 they meet the first criteria ("The Least Developed Countries Report 2012”, 2012). The second criteria is based on human resource weaknesses. Compared to the Human Assets Index, there are four categories that are reviewed: 1) nutrition; 2) health/mortality rate; 3) education; and 4) adult literacy (Nations Online, 2013). Finally the last category involves economic vulnerability. In this category, criteria such as instability of exported goods and agricultural products are reviewed, along with how small the population and geographical area affect the country 's economy. Once the criteria is reviewed, countries can either be added to the list or possibly graduate from the list (“The Least Developed Countries Report 2012,” 2012). The three specific criteria that the United Nations sets for LDCs are not the only way to define these countries, however. Many common characteristics among the world 's poorest countries can be seen, leaving these countries trapped in a cycle of poverty. This leads to the important question of “why are these countries so poor?” and “what are these common characteristics found among these LDC 's?” It is difficult to pinpoint just one main cause for a country 's poverty, but can instead be contributed to many different factors that are all connected. One main issue that most of the least developed countries face is related to their geography. Many of the LDCs are located in areas that provide poor conditions for living. Some may have harsh climates with little or inconsistent rainfall that cause long periods of drought or leave them prone to natural disasters. These climate conditions can lead to poor soil quality, making growing food difficult. Difficulty growing food can lead to malnutrition among the country 's people and even their livestock. Not only does the inadequate food production cause malnutrition, it can also impact trade with other countries. Many times, LDCs depend on their agricultural sector of trade, so they can receive other necessary goods. Another problem that LDCs face is lack of clean water. These countries are too poor for necessary purification systems, and as a result they face the problem of disease causing bacteria, leading to high mortality rates (“Global Poverty and International Development,” 2008). Geography also determines a country 's natural resources. In LDCs there is mostly a shortage of natural resources. In developed countries, they utilize natural resources as a source of revenue particularly through trade. LDCs usually either do not have the resources to trade, or when they do have a large amount of a particular resource, it can actually be a disadvantage for them. Many times they either do not have the manpower or technical resources to utilize the natural resources available to them; so they may export raw materials available, but they have to import finished products which can be very costly. For example, in Pakistan in 2009 the deficit due to the imbalance of imports and exports was $3.5 billion (Tutors2u, 2012). Having an abundance of a natural resource can also cause a lot of conflict internally and between other more powerful countries. For example, Nigeria is considered a LDC and is constantly experiencing conflict, despite being one of the world 's largest oil producers (“Global Poverty and International Development,” 2008). Geography has also shown to be a cause of internal conflicts and war due to isolation. A common feature of many LDCs is that they are landlocked, making it difficult for trade and the transportation of goods. These countries are forced to depend on neighboring countries to allow them to export and import goods and pass on ideas. Unfortunately, for many countries, especially in Africa, this can cause a lot of conflict. Internal conflict in a LDC has proved to be one of the most damaging factors of poverty. The journal article “Global Poverty and International Development” in the World Savvy Monitor, quotes that “the World Bank has estimated that LDCs are 15 times more likely to experience internal conflict than developed countries.” For any country, war can be hard on its economy and society, but it is particularly harmful in a country who is already suffering economically. War and conflict can also stress the political infrastructure of the country. In most LDCs, the government and economy is controlled by the wealthiest people. These leaders are often overpowering and can use violence to control the people. Many times these leaders are more interested in seeking power and wealth, rather than trying to solve the countries problems (Tuters2u, 2012). On the other hand, the government leaders may be too weak. In this case, they may have trouble creating a structured government system and can often be overrun by internal wars. In turn, poor government structure can affect the whole countries infrastructure. They are not able to set up welfare systems, political parties, judicial systems, and they are also not able to provide the people with adequate water systems, transportation systems (roads, railways, etc.), hospitals, businesses or even schools. Without a strong infrastructure the people of the country can severely suffer (“Global Poverty and International Development,” 2008). When viewing the people as a whole in LDCs there are many common characteristics. One main characteristic is rapid population growth. Especially in countries whose main source of revenue comes from agriculture, children are used to work on the farms. Since these children are used to work on the farms and the school systems are poor, education is suffers. As a result, illiteracy rates in LDCs are higher than in developed countries. For example, in Pakistan the literacy rate is only 57%! In turn, these people are less likely to know the importance of economic development, and are not able to help in other areas of development either. In many cases when a person from an LDC wants to seek a higher education, they must leave the country to seek higher education opportunities. Once they leave it is unlikely for them to return since there are few opportunities for advancement in these countries (Tuters2u, 2012). Also, with rapidly growing populations, communities quickly outgrow areas. Populations become unevenly distributed, causing uneven resource and job distribution. There are not enough jobs for the amount of people living in areas. As a result of low wage earnings, people can only afford the basic necessities like food and water, and clothes and shelter if they are lucky. Since the people must use the little money that they have to buy the necessities for survival, they are unable to invest their money in starting new business or simply saving, so then continues the cycle (Tuter2u, 2012). Other effects of large population sizes is disease. Especially in these areas with poor healthcare systems sickness spreads quickly through communities. HIV and AIDS are another common problem in LDCs, especially in many countries in Africa (“Global Poverty and International Development,” 2008). While LDCs are fighting to survive, developed countries continue to grow as a result of globalization. These developed countries have the funds and access to new technological advancements that unite them with other developed countries, and helps to increase their economic wealth. LDCs are rapidly being left behind. Trade is a major contributor to globalization, and as we discussed earlier, LDCs struggle with exporting significant goods. Even when they are able to export needed goods, they often can 't compete with the prices and production of other developed countries. LDCs also struggle with having a voice in the world in general, and are at risk of losing their significance in the world. In some aspects it has helped, by allowing more developed countries to be able to communicate with LDCs, but it has also allowed developed countries to negotiate unfairly with LDCs and often take advantage of the situation that they are in. Although the United Nations has set up the list of LDCs in an attempt to help them, these countries have not seen any significant improvement in their status. As the cycle of poverty continues in these countries, without help from other more developed countries, they will just continue to suffer, and it may only get worse from here.

Works Cited
"Global Poverty and International Development."World Savvy Monitor. no. 5 (2008). http://worldsavvy.org/monitor/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3 50&Itemid=539.

Nations Online, "List of Least Developed Countries." Last modified 2013. http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/least_developed_countries.htm.

"The Least Developed Countries Report 2012. “United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (2012): 1-30. http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ldc2012_en.pdf.

Tutors2u, "Characteristics of LDCs." Last modified 2012. http://www.tutors2u.com/rte/File/Economics/Characteristics of LDCs.pdf.

Cited: "Global Poverty and International Development."World Savvy Monitor. no. 5 (2008). http://worldsavvy.org/monitor/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3 50&Itemid=539. Nations Online, "List of Least Developed Countries." Last modified 2013. http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/least_developed_countries.htm. "The Least Developed Countries Report 2012. “United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (2012): 1-30. http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ldc2012_en.pdf. Tutors2u, "Characteristics of LDCs." Last modified 2012. http://www.tutors2u.com/rte/File/Economics/Characteristics of LDCs.pdf.

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