With the use of examples, explain how physical factors can hinder a country's development

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Examiners like this question because it asks you to link your knowledge of physical geography to development. It can seem a bit out there if you haven't done much physical geog but you should still be able to tackle it well.
And remember at A-level it's more important to use many small specific examples / figures rather than the broad case studies asked of at GCSE.

Here are some examples of physical factors hindering development:

Climate - Niger is a mostly arid country where many still rely on subsistence farming. 76% of the population earns under $2 a day

Topography - Very mountainous countries like Bhutan (where 31% of the population lives below the poverty line) and Nepal find it hard to industrialise and develop.

Being landlocked - shouldn't be underestimated as a factor. Bolivia and Paraguay are among the poorest South American countries partly for this reason. You need to rely on using neighbour's ports to trade internationally (and this can be expensive). This is a big problem if you have shaky relations with your coastal neighbours like Ethiopia does with Eritrea and Djibouti.

Abundant precious natural reources / 'The resource curse' - Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea are both oil-rich, corrupt countries who have relied on exporting oil for Foreign Direct Investment. Often the money goes to the politicians/elites and they often keep it rather than using it to develop the country's industry. The same could be said for DR Congo and precious metals. This problem is known as 'Dutch Disease' after it happened in 1970s Netherlands.


Also remember to CRITICISE/EVALUATE the question too so it's great to also have counterexamples

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both arid, oil-rich countries that many would say have developed successfully in recent decades. Is their development sustainable? What have they done differently to say Nigeria? Are they less corrupt?

Many call Australia and arid country but it is rich. Why is it 'arid' in a different way to Niger?

Like Bhutan and Nepal, Switzerland and Austria are both landlocked, mountainous countries but are very wealthy. What have they got going for them that the Himalayan countries don't?

Do human factors play a much more important role? Think about the impact of colonialism on Rwanda, of Mugabe's policies in Zimbabwe (once 'Africa's breadbasket') and of civil war in Angola and Sierra Leone.

When you write your introduction and more importantly your conclusion, put in a nuanced answer explaining how important you think physical factors are for development.

Richard M. GCSE Italian tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, GCSE History tut...

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is an online GCSE Geography tutor with MyTutor studying at Oxford, Keble College University

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