How far do physical features, such as size and location, determine a country’s progress?

YES: Physical features are immensely vital to a country’s progress as they provide a variety of advantages in meeting both present and future needs.

  1. Some countries may be strategically located and leverage on this strength to improve their range of defensive options against potential aggressors, thereby preserving their political independence and sovereignty.  

  2. Terrain features such as upstream access to rivers or naturally deep harbor waters may provide countries with natural economic assets vital to long-term growth and prosperity.

  3. The availability of precious natural resources can be economically exploited by countries, paving the way for rapid economic growth in various sectors.

  4. Countries which have less hazardous terrain features, such as active volcanoes, flood-prone regions or being located between tectonic fault lines, are naturally able to concentrate more economic and human assets on growth rather than expending them on disaster management or crisis recovery efforts.


NO: Physical features are peripheral to a country’s progress as they present grave disadvantages to a country or are superseded by other more useful and less physical factors.

  1. Strategically located countries may be the object of annexation by other powerful countries or aggressors in politically unstable times, bringing their long-term independence and sovereignty under threat.

  2. The presence of advantageous terrain features are only economically valuable if a country has the necessary infrastructure to fully utilize them, and the absence or under-provision of such infrastructure often stifles economic growth.

  3. The abundance of precious natural resources may create dependence on their exploitation, making countries less likely to diversify their economy and resulting in long-term economic stagnation or collapse once such resources are exhausted.

  4. Proper planning and execution of policies can overcome the lack of naturally advantageous terrain or precious resources, allowing countries to achieve economic growth.

  5. The presence of physically hazardous terrain or position may be overcome with proper disaster management and crisis recovery plans and practices, thereby minimizing any disruption that such hazards cause to long-term progress.