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Home > Geography > Interdependence > Development




Factors affecting development

There are lots of reasons why some countries are much less developed than others. The reasons are complex and vary from place to place.

Physical factors


Many of the poorest countries are in the tropics, where it is hot, the land is less fertile, water is scarce, and diseases flourish.

Natural resources

Some raw materials [raw material: Anything naturally occurring in or on the Earth / in the sea before being processed. These are obtained through primary activities such as mining, fishing, forestry and farming. are valuable and can help a country develop if they have the resources to collect and process them, eg oil, diamonds, forests and gold.


Being near trade routes and having access to the sea, eg ports have been important for trade. Landlocked countries are at a disadvantage.

Natural hazards

Some places are vulnerable to natural disasters, eg Haiti is located in an area prone to earthquakes and hurricanes.

Political factors


Goods are traded on a global scale but it is difficult for poor countries to compete. Some believe the rules of trade are unfair. Rich countries can raise tariff barriers [tariff barrier: When a tax is charged on goods imported into a country. to stop cheap imports undercutting their own goods.

In the past some countries made money by colonising [colonising: When a plant or animal species moves or spreads to a new place. other countries and using their raw materials to produce manufactured goods.

Corruption/poor management

Countries need strong, stable and honest leaders to help them develop.


Wars use up resources and make it difficult to produce goods and trade.

Social factors


Some groups may have less opportunities and this can hold back overall development, eg if women are not educated to the same standard as men.


Overpopulation [overpopulation: Where there are too many people living in one place. Resources will be in short supply and there may be overcrowding and damage to the environment. occurs where population growth outstrips resources.

The United Nations Millennium Goals

The United Nations is an organisation of independent countries formed in 1945 to work for international peace and security.

In 2000, the United Nations agreed on some Millennium Goals. Every country and all the world's leading development organisations agreed to these. The aim was to achieve them by 2015.

The Millennium Goals are:

  • end poverty and hunger

  • universal education

  • gender equality

  • child health

  • maternal health

  • to combat HIV/AIDS

  • environmental sustainability [environmental sustainability: Being able to sustain a lifestyle indefinitely without harm to the environment.

  • global partnership

There has been success in some areas but there is still a great deal of work to do. In 2008 child mortality in developed countries was 6/1,000 per year but in developing countries it was still high - 72/1,000 per year.


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