The most interesting fact about the economic geography of the world is the unequal distribution of activity. The spatial distribution of economic activity determines economic development and underdevelopment. The geography of a country impacts its growth prospects. Geographically, there are countries that are more favored in terms of resources compared to others. The relationship between a country’s natural resource endowment and its economic development is not straightforward (Fally et al., 2010, p. 157) Economic development is not solely determined by the availability of natural resources. There are countries rich in resources which have really developed in the long run while others show very little performance. However, natural resources play a bigger role in determining the potential growth of a country.
Various factors influence the deployment of resources to breed high growth of a country. It is in the interest of various stakeholders in a country that determines how the country develops, depending on how successfully they utilize available resources. The Latin American countries have salient characteristics leading to the increased political and economic changes over the years and especially in the 21st century (Fally et al., 2010, p. 158). They include equal distribution of income, macroeconomic stability, substantial natural resources endowment, increased human labor and capital, and foreign trade. However, not all Latin American countries have embraced the ant globalization stance, developmental techniques, and approaches that are very common throughout the region. Some are developing aggressively while others are intact and slowly embracing changes that lead to economic, social, political, and regional development.
Colombia versus Brazil
Colombia is geographically located in Northern South America, and it is surrounded by large water bodies such as the Caribbean Sea. Its comparative area is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Brazil is located in the Eastern South of America, where it borders the Atlantic Ocean. In area comparison, it is slightly smaller than the United States (Fally et al., 2010, p. 155). Brazil is the biggest nation in South America, the largest tropical wetland, and waterfall system in the world. The climate in Brazil is mostly tropical and temperate, while in Colombia, it is tropical at the coast and cooler in highlands. In terms of natural resource endowment, Brazil is rich in alumina, manganese, gold, iron ore, platinum, petroleum, timber, tin, and many more. Colombia, on the other hand, has petroleum, gold, copper, natural gas, coal, hydropower, and emeralds (Peiró-Palomino et al., 2020, p. 7).
Comparison in Terms of Agricultural Activities
Both countries produce coffee, while Colombia has soybeans, rice, wheat, sugarcane, cocoa, corn, and citrus. Brazil, in addition, has bananas, rice, tobacco, cocoa beans, vegetables, sugarcane, corn, cut flowers, and oilseed. Colombia and Brazil are the two largest coffee-producing countries in the entire world. However, Brazil is the largest since it produces more than a third of what Colombia produces in terms of coffee. In 2018, for example, Brazil produced 62.9 million bags of coffee, while Colombia produced only 13.9 million bags (Fally et al., 2010, p. 162). Therefore, Brazil exported more of coffee, 41.4 million bags, compared to Colombian, 13.7 million bags (Peiró-Palomino et al., 2020, p. 4). Brazil being a large country in terms of landmass, has resulted in separating 21,840 square kilometers for growing coffee while Columbia only uses 8,750 square kilometers for the same (Fally et al., 2010, p. 164).
In Colombia, the agricultural sector output growth has been declining, and productivity stagnated in recent years. High poverty levels, income inequality, and land concentrations have resulted in these. The country has resulted in enhancing agricultural reform changes by formalizing and strengthening land rights and access, focusing on remedying trade markets while supporting investments in public goods like irrigation and infrastructure (Peiró-Palomino et al., 2020, p. 8). The agricultural sector had proved to be the largest employment contributor in the country, but as it deteriorates, employment levels are also affected. On the contrary, Brazil has been succeeding in farming due to the vast supply and utilization of natural resources and the tropical climate. Brazil engages in technologies that help make low fertility areas into leading agricultural areas. The agricultural and livestock sector forms 24% of its Gross Domestic Product (Fally et al., 2010, p. 164). Today, it’s one of the leading agricultural products’ exporters. Despite the geographical challenges it faces, Brazil has been able to overcome them and still increase its productivity. Furthermore, Brazil has employed Crop-Livestock-Forestry integrated systems to ensure efficient land use through the production of livestock combined with forests.
Comparison in Terms of Urban and Rural Differences
Many cities in Colombia underperform as drivers of inclusive growth, and many citizens live in rural areas, thereby suffering from limited access to key services. Colombia seemed to urbanize faster than it developed. It has more than ten cities inhabited by more than 500 thousand people, which is an uncommon polycentric urban system available in Latin America, as compared to Brazil (Fally et al., 2010, p. 167). As a result of the urban-rural split, functional cities are small and very isolated leading to poor connections with the rural areas. Rural areas are characterized by high poverty levels, infrastructure, and weak local institutions and thereby highly disconnected from urban areas. Urban areas are developed with congestions as a result of more use of private transport. Most cities do not trade with one another due to similarities in production structures. The government needs to focus on improving urban and rural areas, especially in the transport and production sectors.
Brazil, on the other hand, has prospered in urbanizing most of its rural areas. Rural-urban relations result from more general processes that the Brazilian society has achieved as an urban-industrial society. The industrialization of agriculture is seen as the urbanization of the countryside (Urrego-Mesa et al., 2019, p. 11). As a result, rural environments are assimilated into the urban ones. Brazilian society was profoundly transformed due to urbanization, which increased employment levels and access to goods and services by all (Bustos, 2016, 1328). The movement of various industrial plants and service companies to the rural areas has bridged the gap the existed between rural and urban areas, resulting in the emergence of large cities in the country's interior.
Comparison Based on Social Programs Implemented and Employment Opportunities Created
Columbia has achieved a considerable drop in absolute poverty as a result of strong economic growth. Nonetheless, relative poverty and income inequality are still high (Urrego-Mesa et al., 2019, p. 21). High unemployment levels and informality in the labor market results in the considerable difference experienced. The uneven quality of education is the leading cause of disparities. Despite the strong economic growth in Colombia, its labor market shows disappointing performance due to poor quality jobs, with most formal employees having non-regular contracts. High labor costs existing in the legal sectors make many people unemployed. The country has embarked on protection against unemployment by extending social protection programs, extensive civil laws, and work agencies (Bustos, 2016, p. 1347). However, all these steps still require further significant improvements in the situation to improve. The social spending in Colombia reduces inequality in income but is more generous to the top income group (Urrego-Mesa et al., 2019 p. 13). However, the system is challenged since pensions are given more to the higher income earners, leading to income inequality.
Brazil has engaged in social welfare program where all children can go to school and get vaccinations. Families are aided with money programs to help improve their livelihoods, making Brazil join the modern era. Millions of people got out of the poor house as a result of the ‘Bolsa Familia’ program (Bustos, 2016, p. 1329) . School performance increased, and dropout rates declined among the beneficiaries to the government aid. As a result of increased education to the population, more people got skills to work in the formal sector. Eligibility to work increased, and most people could acquire employment (Urrego-Mesa et al., 2019, p 18). Also, the small business sector improved as people resulted in them. The impacts of the social programs effected in Brazil are evident even to date since many people are either unaffected directly or indirectly by them. Brazil has also improved employment through job programs based on tax reductions benefiting youths aged between 18 and 29 years (Bustos, 2016, p. 1341). As a result, labor costs will be lower for employers. Microcredit loans are also made available and more comfortable to access for the population.
In conclusion, however, much geography matters for development; it is evident that economic growth is not governed by a geographical determinism. Countries can embark on different governmental, social, and financial programs to improve their developmental aspects. Enhancement of equality between the urban and rural areas is essential since it helps improve integration, thereby encouraging growth. A country's social welfare programs determine the education and employment levels of its people. Unemployment is a threat to the development of any state. Therefore, nations need to embrace various measures that will help them achieve developments.
Bustos, P., Caprettini, B., & Ponticelli, J. (2016). Agricultural productivity and structural transformation: Evidence from Brazil. American Economic Review, 106(6), 1320-1365. https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.20131061
Fally, T., Paillacar, R., & Terra, C. (2010). Economic geography and wages in Brazil: Evidence from micro-data. Journal of Development Economics, 91(1), 155-168. https://are.berkeley.edu/~fally/Papers/Fally_Paillacar_Terra_JDE.pdf
Peiró-Palomino, J., Picazo-Tadeo, A. J., & Tortosa-Ausina, E. (2020). The geography of well-being in Colombia (No. 2020/03). http://www.doctreballeco.uji.es/wpficheros/Peiro_et_al_03_2020.pdf
Urrego-Mesa, A., Infante-Amate, J., & Tello, E. (2019). Pastures and cash crops: Biomass flows in the socio-metabolic transition of twentieth-century Colombian agriculture. Sustainability, 11(1). https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.20131061
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