How Does the Geography of a Region Affect Its Economy?

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Cities with ports on the oceanfront can easily transport goods.
Cities with ports on the oceanfront can easily transport goods. (Image: Felipe Dupouy/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Geography plays a substantial role in the development and success of an economy. Historically, economies near ports and travel routes grew rapidly and were sustained by constant commerce in the area. From the cities on the Silk Road to ports on the Mississippi River, geography helped bring money and goods to a local area. Today, geography still plays an important but much more nuanced role in the development of economies.

Landforms

The landforms of a particular area dictate the nature and size of commerce that a locale can support. For example, a city located in highly elevated regions of Mt. Everest in Bouton might be unable to support constant import and export. On the other hand, India's Mangalore and Mumbai ports on the Arabian Sea have allowed these coastal cities to flourish economically because they readily avail trade. In general, rivers, lakes, canals, bays, oceans and coasts are landforms that provide easy transport and economic growth.

Climate

The climate of a region can affect the types of exports the region can provide. For example, cocoa is a highly desirable and marketable plant that can only be grown in particular areas and within a certain distance from the equator. As a result, certain countries, such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador and Malaysia, constitute 90 percent of the world's cocoa production. The climate plays a huge role in a region's production of goods.

Location

Location refers to a region's place in a larger region or global context. A place's geography includes its landforms and the population distribution, industries, resources and activity surrounding it. For example, Xinjiang, a landlocked and flat province in Western China, would ordinarily be a geographically and economically disadvantaged city because of its lack of water avenues for transport. However, it represents one of the largest mineral, food and energy production sources in the country because of its location, which has huge population conglomerates surrounding it.

Transportation

Transportation is a huge component of a country's economic success. The presence of ports and water sources provide the foundation for transport and trade, but a variety of factors also influence the transport. For example, New Orleans has a large land area adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, which could avail a lot of trade. However, the presence of hurricanes and tropical storms in the area makes New Orleans subject to much natural destruction, which is why ports adjacent to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans have seen more economic success.

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