The developing world comprises a vast set of heterogeneous societies that includes the bulk of the world's population. The distinction between “developed” and “underdeveloped” is usually made in economic terms. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and level of industrialization are the key indicators used to define a country's level of development. Many factors influence this variable, including a country's colonial legacy, government policies toward trade and investment, resource endowments, and levels of human capital, including literacy. One dimension often overlooked is the role of geography. Factors regarding the physical, political, and human geography of a region are normally not considered among economists when looking at the potential development of certain regions of the world. This entry seeks to connect the physical geography ...

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