Economic Geography

Mapping zones of wealth and poverty; illustrating the global geography of economic development

Tatarstan: A “Hostage of Freezing Relations between Russia and Turkey”?

[Many thanks to Ekaterina Lyutikova for most helpful discussions of some of the issues discussed in this post, as well as for the photos, some of which are used as illustrations below. I’m also grateful to Martin W. Lewis for helpful discussions and edits and for modifying the Wikipedia map of Percentage of Ethnic Tatars, used below.]


Tatarstan has not been much of a geopolitical hotspot in recent years and has largely remained “under the radar” for most mainstream Western media. This may soon change, however… – Read More

Mapping the Extraordinary Cost of Homes in California

Housing prices in parts of California have reached a level so astronomical as to provoke widespread despair (coupled, however, with a certain degree of concealed glee among of the beneficiaries). The geography of housing costs can be easily grasped by juxtaposing a map of median home prices in USA Home Price MapCalifornia with a similar map showing all of the United States – Read More

The Changing Geography of Poverty in The United States

U.S. Poverty by County MapIn 2007, James B. Holt published an interesting article on “The Topography of Poverty in the United States” based on cartographic analysis (I have reproduced two of his maps here). His concluding map posits a “continental poverty divide,” with most areas of entrenched poverty found in the southeast and south-center and most areas of low poverty found in the northeast and north-center, but with a number of outliers found on both U.S. Continental Poverty Divide Mapsides of… – Read More

Argentina’s Controversial Energy Policies

Argentina Oil Natural GasAs noted in the previous post, the most economically productive areas of Argentina depend heavily on the extraction of oil and natural gas. Argentina, however, is not a major fossil-fuel producer, and its reserves of conventional oil and natural gas are modest. Although it still exports some crude oil and until recently sold large quantities of natural gas to Chile, Argentina has been a net importer of both gas and oil since 2011. Its economy is also heavily dependent on fossil fuels, with natural gas alone supplying… – Read More

Argentina’s Striking North/South Economic Divide

Argentina GDP by Province MapAs previously noted, Argentina is characterized by a north/south socio-economic divide, with the south being much more prosperous than the north. This regional disparity is visible on the HDI map included in the most recent post, but it is more clearly marked on other maps of economic development.

Consider, for example, GDP per capita by Argentine province (2008 data). As more than an order of magnitude separates Argentina’s least economically productive province (Chaco, at US$ 2,015) from its most productive province (Santa Cruz, at US$ 30,496)… – Read More

Argentina’s HDI: The Wikipedia’s Worst Map?

Argentina HDI Wikipedia MapAlthough the Wikipedia includes a multitude of fine maps, its cartographic archive is by no means uniformly excellent. Perhaps the worst Wikipedia map that I have encountered, posted to the left, depicts Argentinian provinces in accordance with their HDI (Human Development Index*) rankings. As can be seen, all provinces are placed in the same category, that of “very high HDI,” although the key includes unused colors indicating “high” and “medium” levels of development. As the map depicts no differences among Argentina’s provinces, it is essentially meaningless… – Read More

The Quixotic Campaign to Split New York State

New York Southern Tier MapA new drive to divide the state of New York, separating the “Upstate” region from metropolitan New York City, is gaining visibility both within the state and nationally. On Sunday, August 30 a secession rally organized by more than a dozen groups was held in the town of Bainbridge (population 3,300) in New York’s Southern Tier, the movement’s core area. Some secessionists would like to split New York into two states and others would rather transfer the Southern Tier counties to the neighboring state of Pennsylvania. Either… – Read More

Oil, Coal, and Economic Development in Colombia

Although Colombia is not usually classified as a major oil-producer, it ranks 19th in the world according to the Wikipedia, turning out more than a million barrels a day in late 2014. Although this figure was well below that of Venezuela (2.5 million barrels a day), it surpassed those of such well-known oil exporters as Oman and Azerbaijan. It is no surprise, therefore, that Colombia has taken an economic hit from the recent decline in the price of oil. Compounding Colombia’s woes are the continuing strikes on its oil infrastructure by leftist rebels. According to a recent Financial

Chile: Inequality, Education, and Geography

As noted in the previous post, Chile has a strikingly high level of income inequality despite its considerable success in social and economic development. Many observers blame Chile’s educational system for such inequity, contending that the country has many poor schools and does not spend enough money on education. As argued in a recent Council on Hemispheric Affairs article, “National and international advocates for education reform agree that Chile must significantly increase its expenditures on education to provide quality institutions and reduce inequality.” A post in an on-line publication called The Richest fleshes out this argument:
With a… – Read More

Chile: Inequality, Incarceration, and Drug Smuggling

GINI World MapChile is rightfully celebrated for the socio-economic progress that it has achieved over the past several decades. But although it has seen a substantial reduction in poverty, Chile still has a high degree of economic inequality, like most other Latin American countries. According to the Wikipedia,* in 2011 Chile ranked in the 155th position out of 176 countries in terms of the GINI Coefficient, the most widespread statistical measurement of income inequality, with a figure of 50.8. The CIA gave it an even higher figure—52.1—in 2009. As a… – Read More

Chile’s Unusual Core/Periphery Pattern, Part I

Chile Population Density MapThe Wikipedia includes a number of articles on “ranked lists” of the first-order divisions (regions, provinces, etc.) of various countries. The one on Chile is particularly comprehensive. It includes only one map, however, that of the human development index. As a result, I could not resist mapping some of the other data found there. I have focused on those tables in which the gaps between regions are relatively large. I have not considered female life expectancy at birth, for example, because the figures vary only slightly, ranging… – Read More

Oman and Yemen: So Similar, So Different…

Arabia Satellite ImageAt first glance, Oman and Yemen almost appear to be sibling states. They fairly evenly divide the southeastern slice of the Arabian Peninsula. Both countries have extensive highlands on their opposing extremities, which receive much more rainfall than the rest of region and thus allow intensive agriculture both within the uplands themselves and in the adjacent lowlands. They share the seasonally wet central coastal area of Dhofar/Al Mahrah. Both countries sit at the entrance of a vitally important strait that leads to a major sea (the Strait of Hormuz… – Read More