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Articles in Economic Geography

Migration and Diplomatic Tensions In Costa Rica

By Martin W. Lewis | July 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Nicaragua, the poorest country in continental North America by a good margin, sends immigrants not only northward into Mexico and the United States but also southward into Costa Rica. The economic disparity along Nicaragua’s lightly policed southern border is steep and Costa Rica, unlike Nicaragua, is known for its political stability, effective government, and high

Regional Economic Disparities and Migration in Mexico

By Martin W. Lewis | July 6, 2010 | One Comment

On the global scale, Mexico is a middle-income country, a fact lost on most Americans. According to the IMF, it ranks 60 out of 184 in per capita Gross Domestic Product. Measured in purchasing power parity (PPP), Mexico produces roughly $13,600* worth of goods and services per person per year, a figure

Misconceptions About Mexico’s Birth Rate

By Martin W. Lewis | July 5, 2010 | 10 Comments

In the American immigration debate, the point is often made on talk radio that Mexicans stream into the United States because their birth rate is so high. Mainstream sources sometimes make the same argument. In June, 2010, Britain’s Prince Charles warned about the “cultural pressures that keep the global birth rate high,” arguing that

South Korea’s Shifting Economic Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | June 3, 2010 | 2 Comments

South Korea is conventionally divided into three main regions: a dominant northwest (greater Seoul); a prosperous, conservative, and politically favored southeast; and an underdeveloped, disgruntled, and left-leaning southwest. Recent economic data, however, reveals more complicated geographical patterns. South Korea’s economic advance over the past few decades has evidently begun to unsettle its ancient tripartite

South Korea is Divided Into Three Parts

By Martin W. Lewis | June 1, 2010 |

Nationalism and regionalism often seem to be contrary phenomena. Countries with strong regional identities and stark regional disparities tend to have weak national foundations. But nation and region do not always counteract each other. South Korea in particular is characterized by both deeply rooted regionalism and intense nationalism.

Struggles over Dams and Waterfalls in Paraguay

By Martin W. Lewis | May 28, 2010 |

The uproar over Kathryn Bigelow’s plans to shoot a film in the Triple Frontier region (discussed yesterday) might seem surprising at first glance. Ciudad del Este and the tri-border zone are already known in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay for smuggling and crime, and are thus unlikely to suffer much domestically from American movie insults

Drug Wars in Paraguay

By Martin W. Lewis | May 26, 2010 | One Comment

In early May 2010, Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay, met with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the Paraguayan border town of Pedro Juan Caballero, population 75,000. Security was heavy, as befitted the location. Pedro Juan Caballero is noted for its cheap electronics and deadly drug smugglers.

Tourism in Somalia?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 11, 2010 | 4 Comments

Anarchic and war-racked Somalia is not a likely tourist destination. A 2004 article in The Economist described Somalia’s Minister of Tourism as having “perhaps the world’s hardest job, but very little to do.” The country “had not had a single acknowledged tourist in 14 years,” despite the fact that, that “brave tourists can find unusual

The Death, and Partial Rebirth, of the Aral Sea

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2010 |

After touring the remains of the Aral Sea by helicopter in April 2010, U.N. secretary general Ban-Ki Moon expressed shock at the scale of devastation. “It is clearly one of the worst environmental disasters of the world,” he reported. “It really left with me a profound impression, one of sadness that such a mighty sea

Migration, Mining, and Insurgency in Eastern Indonesia

By Martin W. Lewis | April 9, 2010 | One Comment

As we saw last Monday, a tenuous peace came to the Indonesian province of Aceh in 2005 when it was granted a special autonomous status in 2005. The same cannot be said of Papua, Indonesia’s largest province, located on the opposite side of the country. Papua was granted a measure of local autonomy in 2001

Sudan: Africa’s New Breadbasket?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 25, 2010 |

As yesterday’s post discussed, Ethiopia’s western lowlands have significant agricultural potential. The agricultural resources of neighboring Sudan, however, are much greater. Vast clay plains cover much of east-central and southern Sudan; although they are not easy to farm, their soils are fertile and they have abundant – often too abundant – supplies of water.

Gambella: Ethiopia’s Troubled Western Lowlands

By Martin W. Lewis | March 24, 2010 | One Comment

Ethiopia is well known as a plateau country. Its cultural and political core areas have always been in the highlands. But Ethiopia also includes extensive lowlands, a legacy of the imperial conquests in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ethnic conflicts plague much of Ethiopia’s lowland fringe, as do tensions with the central government

Taiwan and the Pacific: Contracting for Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | March 16, 2010 | One Comment

On March 15, 2010, a number of newspapers announced that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou would visit his country’s allies in the South Pacific: Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. Such headlines were doubly wrong. The region specified is not exactly in the South Pacific, and the countries mentioned are not exactly

Jiangsu and Zhejiang: The World’s Most Important Ignored Places

By Martin W. Lewis | March 15, 2010 | 4 Comments

The standard geographical model of the world, as this blog seeks to demonstrate, unduly emphasizes the sovereign state (or “country”). States, of course, are vitally important, but so too are other geographical entities. The fixation on the independent country, compounded by the myth of continents, elevates some parts of the world while slighting others

The Tax Haven of Norfolk Island

By Martin W. Lewis | March 9, 2010 | One Comment

With just 13 square miles and 2,142 residents, Norfolk Island is not large. Lying 900 miles off Australia and 600 miles from New Zealand, it is also very remote. But Norfolk played a key role in the British colonization of the Austral realm. Extensive groves of tall, straight Norfolk Island pine

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