Less Developed Countries, Poverty and Challenges to “Development”
Pittsburg State University
World Regional Geography
Dr. C. Hooey
June 19, 2013
Many countries today face overwhelming political, cultural, economical and geographical challenges that lead to poor development. The world's poorest countries are referred to as less developed countries (LDCs). Today, there are 48 countries that are designated by the United Nations as the world's least developed countries, but many other countries also face the same challenges. Based on three criteria, every three years the United Nations categorizes these countries. The first of these three criteria is based on per capita income of the country. The countries' average gross national income over the course of three years is analyzed and if the average is less than $992 they meet the first criteria ("The Least Developed Countries Report 2012”, 2012). The second criteria is based on human resource weaknesses. Compared to the Human Assets Index, there are four categories that are reviewed: 1) nutrition; 2) health/mortality rate; 3) education; and 4) adult literacy (Nations Online, 2013). Finally the last category involves economic vulnerability. In this category, criteria such as instability of exported goods and agricultural products are reviewed, along with how small the population and geographical area affect the country's economy. Once the criteria is reviewed, countries can either be added to the list or possibly graduate from the list (“The Least Developed Countries Report 2012,” 2012). The three specific criteria that the United Nations sets for LDCs are not the only way to define these countries, however. Many common characteristics among the world's poorest countries can be seen, leaving these countries trapped in a cycle of poverty. This leads to the important question of “why are these countries so poor?” and “what are these common characteristics found among these LDC's?”
It is difficult to pinpoint just one main cause for a country's poverty, but can instead be contributed to many different factors that are all connected. One main issue that most of the least developed countries face is related to their geography. Many of the LDCs are located in areas that provide poor conditions for living. Some may have harsh climates with little or inconsistent rainfall that cause long periods of drought or leave them prone to natural disasters. These climate conditions can lead to poor soil quality, making growing food difficult. Difficulty growing food can lead to malnutrition among the country's people and even their livestock. Not only does the inadequate food production cause malnutrition, it can also impact trade with other countries. Many times, LDCs depend on their agricultural sector of trade, so they can receive other necessary goods. Another problem that LDCs face is lack of clean water. These countries are too poor for necessary purification systems, and as a result they face the problem of disease causing bacteria, leading to high mortality rates (“Global Poverty and International Development,” 2008).
Geography also determines a country's natural resources. In LDCs there is mostly a shortage of natural resources. In developed countries, they utilize natural resources as a source of revenue particularly through trade. LDCs usually either do not have the resources to trade, or when they do have a large amount of a particular resource, it can actually be a disadvantage for them. Many times they either do not have the manpower or technical resources to utilize the natural resources available to them; so they may export raw materials available, but they have to import finished products which can be very costly. For example, in Pakistan in 2009 the deficit due to the imbalance of imports and exports was $3.5 billion (Tutors2u, 2012). Having an abundance of a natural resource can also cause a lot of conflict internally and between other more...
Cited: "Global Poverty and International Development."World Savvy Monitor. no. 5 (2008).
Nations Online, "List of Least Developed Countries." Last modified 2013.
"The Least Developed Countries Report 2012. “United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development. (2012): 1-30. http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ldc2012_en.pdf.
Tutors2u, "Characteristics of LDCs." Last modified 2012.
http://www.tutors2u.com/rte/File/Economics/Characteristics of LDCs.pdf.
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