Patterns of Economic Development in the World
In the 1970’s Africa seemed poised to take off developmentally speaking while S.America and especially Asia were seen with extreme pessimism. Since then patterns have been reversed; Asia led by economies such as
India have introduced new nomenclature such as newly and recently industrialising countries while S. America has followed close behind. Today it is Africa or more precisely Sub-Saharran Africa which has stagnated developmentally or in some cases even reversed in some countries. Thios can be seen by looking at two countries – India and Uganda. In 1960 Uganda had a GDP/cap of $789 and a life expectancy of 44 years. India in comparrison was $654 and 42 years; well behind. By 1990 Uganda was $661 and 48 years compared to
$1137 and 58 years and by 2008 Uganda was $1164 and 53 years compared to India’s $2622 and 64 years.
The reasons for these recent changes were clear; physical endowment which appeared so important in the
1960’s and 1970’s became far less important while economic factors increased in importance and political, social and cultural factors came to dominate. Those countries in Asia and S. America which came to stable government earlier; progressed far faster than those in Africa and Sub-Saharran Africa in particular.
Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s most geographers agreed that the most important factors in controlling development were physical. Guided by Rostow’s and Friedmann’s models this seemed most probable.
However despite Asia having a wide range of natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes and droughts in at least equal measure to Sub-Saharran Africa and a far lower endowment of physical resources this region has surged ahead. Compare for example India’s GDP/cap of $2622 with the Democratic Republic of the Congo with $300 per year. This is despite the Congo having the world’s largest endowment of physical resources with gold, diamonds, coltan and forest