Factors influencing development

Factors which influence the rate at which a country may develop can be physical or human.

Physical factors


The Sahel region in Africa suffers from a lack of rainfall. This means that droughts are common. The result is that crops may suffer. There are certain diseases which thrive in tropical climates, such as malaria and yellow fever, because of the hot and humid conditions.

Natural hazards:

Floods, droughts and tectonic activity can limit future growth and destroy buildings and agricultural areas. This also means a country may divert income to help recover from these events.

Landlocked countries

15 countries in Africa are landlocked. This means it is more difficult to trade as goods have to be driven through other countries to get to the coast for shipping. It is also more difficult for new technology to reach a landlocked country, as the fiber optic cables are laid under the ocean.

Natural resources

Natural resources such as minerals, gas and oil can help improve a country’s level of development. However this is closely tied in with the ability to exploit the resource for the benefit of the country. There are also countries, such as Japan, which are low in natural resources, but have based their development on human factors such as education and skills.


Human factors

Historical development

Colonialism hindered a developing country’s level of development. A colony helped supply food and minerals to countries like Britain and France. There was investment in colonies, but this was focused on things that would help the trade between the countries.

Borders of some colonial countries were set without attention to tribal and cultural differences, causing tensions and instability.

Political factors

Poor governance does not help a country to develop. Money that could be spent on development may be used to fund military weapons or an affluent lifestyle of an elite group of people.

Economic factors

World trade is often not fair. LEDCs tend to sell primary produce. LEDCs have to compete with each other to win the trade – which lowers the prices farmers get. A poor harvest means less income. There is more money to be made in processing goods, which MEDCs tend to do.

Foreign investment can help a country to develop. Africa receives less than 5 per cent foreign direct investment. It has 15 per cent of the world’s population. Europe receives 45 per cent of foreign direct investment, and only has 7 per cent of the world’s population. Who controls world trade is also important, and it is developed countries that control the most trade.

Many LEDCs are in debt to MEDCs. Some of their income has to pay off these debts.

Social factors

A poorer country finds it more difficult to invest in education. The problem is made worse because many countries have a high dependency ratio. Having money to invest in a healthcare system is important for a country to develop. That is because it is difficult for sick people to work hard.

Clean water is essential for health. One in six people do not have access to safe water. If water is not safe, people may be unable to work or care for their families because of illness.

(By: Annise Siaw 7 Omega)



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