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Old 08-16-2012, 06:03 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,682 posts, read 53,191,193 times
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* except Singapore, which isn't self-sufficient, and is more a city state with an economy based on trade, service, technology.etc and was pretty poor until recent decades.

Countries partially in the tropics, like Taiwan, or Australia, don't count, nor does Hong Kong which is both a city state and now part of China.

Most rainforest areas actually have very poor soil, so agricultural societies generally do not develop right in the tropics. As you know, agriculture is the basis of civilisations, and the earliest civilisations developed in the temperate and sub-tropical latitudes. Is this lack of any significantly advanced tropical civilisations the reason why most tropical countries are poor?

I mean Europe etc have had agricultural societies for a long time now, and their relative wealth is a legacy of this past history. Nothing to do with them being smarter, just to do with geographical chance.
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Old 08-16-2012, 06:34 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
9,080 posts, read 13,260,547 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
* except Singapore, which isn't self-sufficient, and is more a city state with an economy based on trade, service, technology.etc and was pretty poor until recent decades.

Countries partially in the tropics, like Taiwan, or Australia, don't count, nor does Hong Kong which is both a city state and now part of China.

Most rainforest areas actually have very poor soil, so agricultural societies generally do not develop right in the tropics. As you know, agriculture is the basis of civilisations, and the earliest civilisations developed in the temperate and sub-tropical latitudes. Is this lack of any significantly advanced tropical civilisations the reason why most tropical countries are poor?

I mean Europe etc have had agricultural societies for a long time now, and their relative wealth is a legacy of this past history. Nothing to do with them being smarter, just to do with geographical chance.
What about the Aztecs and the Incas? Some historians consider them great agriculture-based civilizations. But my understanding is that they did not invent the wheel or even writing, as far as we know.

But what is this fascination with Euro-centrism?

What we call Europe today, whose main roots are in the era of Charlemagne, was one of last regions to develop agriculture after around 10,000 or so years ago starting in the eastern Mediterranean and in the pre-industrial world it was a relatively poor, backward and not-much-thought-about region compared to the more advanced regions of the southern and especially eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, India and China, and so on.

Europe's relative wealth has to do with shipping technology (starting around the 1100s) and industrialization (starting around 1750), not agriculture. What did the Europeans do as soon as they had that power: they attacked, racially profiled, enslaved, genocided, and colonized the southern and eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, India, China and so on (i.e. the Americas and sub-Sahara Africa). And you or I would do the same if we had that kind of power and our rivals didn't.

You know, Japan is relatively poor in industrially relevant natural resources, yet it is an industrial powerhouse. The same can be said for Italy, for example, to a certain extent. The Soviet Union was extremely rich in industrially relevant natural resources, yet, according to some analysts, they actually destroyed value in their manufacturing system, not created it, and that's why Russia today is mainly a commodity-export power, not a manufacturing-export power like Japan and Germany.

This "geographical chance" or geographical determinism thing has been debated to death for decades now, even more than a century.

Human beings, societies and civilizations are complex creatures and, in the end, either/or type questions are usually not very interesting.

It seems that social organization, managerial skills, creativity and inventiveness, as well as ambition, among other characteristics, are at least just as important as natural resources readily available: it's not so much what you have as what you do with it.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-16-2012, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Paris, France
327 posts, read 990,282 times
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There are plenty of first world tropical states. Besides the ones you mention (Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong - and I don't see why you simply state "they don't count"), there are several others - mainly in the Caribbean (Cayman Islands, Bermuda, BVIs...) as well as states such as Florida which are among the richest places on earth.

Likewise there are plenty of dirt-poor countries (North Korea, Moldova, Albania...) who have temperate or even cold climates.

It is true that countries in temperate climates tend to be weathier than those in the tropics. But I think this is moreover an accident of history.

The reasons why some countries are rich and most are poor are linked to the historical inclusiveness of that country's institutions. States with strong inclusive institutions which safeguarded property rights and allowed individuals to invest and innovate without the fear of it being taken away from them became rich.

Likewise where extractive institutions, despotism and insecure property rights are the norm - the country remains poor. There are literally no exceptions to this rule - it really has nothing to do with culture or climate or even natural resources (look at Switzerland - landlocked, no natural resources, and a tough mountain climate - but one of the richest countries on earth due to its inclusive institutions).

Read this:
Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:15 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,682 posts, read 53,191,193 times
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^ bale002. Nations have attacked and invaded other nations since there were nations. Who were the most powerful nations? Generally, those who had the most advanced civilisation and thus manpower and technology (with a few exceptions like the Mongols).

^ britinparis. Because they're partially outside the tropics. I'm talking of nations wholly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In Australia early settlement was in the sub-tropical/warm temperate southern states. HK is like Singapore. Cayman Islands, Bermuda.etc likewise.

Sure, there are poor places in the temperate regions. But what I'm saying is the wealthy nations there are are pretty much all in the temperate zone, and today most of the temperate zone is quite well off.

I think it's far more than a coincidence. Suitable climate + arable land = the potential for high population density, lots of resources, which bred early civilisations like the Euphrates-Tigris (poor climate but well irrigated due to technology), Indus Valley, Ganges, Huang He. The Nile had flat land and fertile silt-laden soil.

Maybe it's climatic too...the oppressive climate of the tropical climate quickly eroded away buildings, for instance (ruins of Angkor Wat).

Also responding to bale002 again, the Inca and Aztec lived in the high Andes/Central plateau of Mexico which had a cooler climate.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:45 AM
 
25,053 posts, read 26,671,961 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
* except Singapore, which isn't self-sufficient, and is more a city state with an economy based on trade, service, technology.etc and was pretty poor until recent decades.

Countries partially in the tropics, like Taiwan, or Australia, don't count, nor does Hong Kong which is both a city state and now part of China.

Most rainforest areas actually have very poor soil, so agricultural societies generally do not develop right in the tropics. As you know, agriculture is the basis of civilisations, and the earliest civilisations developed in the temperate and sub-tropical latitudes. Is this lack of any significantly advanced tropical civilisations the reason why most tropical countries are poor?

I mean Europe etc have had agricultural societies for a long time now, and their relative wealth is a legacy of this past history. Nothing to do with them being smarter, just to do with geographical chance.
Trimac, why do you ask questions and then answer them in your OP at the same time?

Don't really know what to say, except that I agree with you. In addition to that fact I think tropical climates make people lazy. That's not to say there aren't underdeveloped countries with cold climates, but there's an alarming amount of warm countries that are not developed, except Singapore like you said.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:04 PM
 
10,847 posts, read 13,695,541 times
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In tropical countries, you never worry about freezing to death without a proper shelter. The fruits just fall from trees all year around. So why bother work?

Even in Europe, the countries in worst economic condition are the warmest: Spain, Italy, Greece. Even in Italy, the north is much richer than the warmer south.

In the US, the poorest states are in the south as well.

In comparing countries, we should note tropical countries in south America and Africa and South Asia were robbed by the west heavily. Never forget that fact. The west after it dominated the world established new rules trying every possible way to make sure poorer countries stay poor.
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,857 posts, read 9,939,133 times
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It has nothing to do with agriculture. Most of tropical areas developed advanced agriculture based civilizations. I'm talking India, Java, the great Khmer kingdoms, Siam, Great Zimabawe, the West African city states, The Congo Empire, The Mayan culture (which did develop writing), the thalassacracy of Tondo in the modern day Phillipines - even the Polynesians became quite sophisticated in the larger island groupings like Tonga. These tropical Kingdoms were wealthy and the quality of life often surpassed those of the people in the Northern cultures, so they were clearly fertile in many areas.

As for them being poor now, that's a whole other can of worms having to do with the fact that Northern Europe industrialized first.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:01 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
98,577 posts, read 97,019,930 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bale002 View Post
What about the Aztecs and the Incas? Some historians consider them great agriculture-based civilizations. But my understanding is that they did not invent the wheel or even writing, as far as we know.
Good point, except the ancestors of the Maya did invent writing. The Maya ended up significantly modifying the terrain around them, deforesting it to build their cities and roads. Just goes to show what you can achieve in a tropical jungle environment. They did have very rich agricultural fields that were able to feed cities of 40,000 people or more, and their suburbs. They really pulled it off! They had their fields set up so that they could raise fish (important protein) in the irrigation channels running between the raised fields.

There's no First World nation in the tropics because the colonial nations were all in the North, and they subjugated the south to build colonial empires. So the tropics were always under somebody's thumb. After decolonization, international trade rules were stacked in favor of the already developed nations (at that point, including Australia and NZ). That's beginning to change, a little. When you see the price of chocolate and imported cotton and ready-made imported cotton clothing go sky high, you'll know India and Africa finally managed to get a fair shake.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Paris, France
327 posts, read 990,282 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
In tropical countries, you never worry about freezing to death without a proper shelter. The fruits just fall from trees all year around. So why bother work?

Even in Europe, the countries in worst economic condition are the warmest: Spain, Italy, Greece. Even in Italy, the north is much richer than the warmer south.

In the US, the poorest states are in the south as well.

In comparing countries, we should note tropical countries in south America and Africa and South Asia were robbed by the west heavily. Never forget that fact. The west after it dominated the world established new rules trying every possible way to make sure poorer countries stay poor.
I completely disagree - the "tropical climate breeds laziness" theory is totally discredited among serious academic discourse. It's also Eurocentric and quite racist.

Go to any poor tropical country and you'll see locals putting in year after year of backbreaking labour that people in the West - supposedly with our better "work ethic" - would never be able to cope with. Don't tell me they just wait for the fruit to fall from the tree - or that they ever did.

In the 21st century, the hardest jobs for the least pay in Western Europe and North America are largely done by immigrants from these countries.

I repeat my earlier post: the reason some countries are rich and some are poor is the historical inclusiveness of any given country's or state's institutions.

Spain and Italy might be slightly worse off than their northern neighbours, largely to do with the current economic crisis, they are a hell of a lot richer than much colder eastern Europe. Why are there so many Poles and Romanians scrubbing floors in Spain, or caring for old people in Italy?

Likewise, even in the US wealth and climate do not correlate. Michigan is one of the poorest states; Florida and California among the richest. Ture, some states in the deep south are poor (eg Mississippi) but others - such as Georgia or North Carolina - are actually slightly richer than average.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:43 AM
 
105 posts, read 195,322 times
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India until 15th century was an economic powerhouse and at times Indian economy, majorly agrarian, held 2/3 of the total world economy. Recent (past 500 years) decline of India is due to many complex sociopolitical reasons that can't just be over-simplified as "lack of agriculture".
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