The African continent is three times larger than the European continent and possesses the shortest coastline of any other continent on planet Earth.
This is a massive contributing factor to why Africa is poor because, unlike Europe, which had access to the Mediterranean Sea and the East Asian continent, which has excellent natural rivers and other major waterways, the African continent severely lacks.
Infrastructure needs to be built adequately to mitigate these natural disadvantages of African geography, affecting its economic, political and social development.
Without access to trade in the interior of Africa and external natural harbours, the African continent could not experience the same economic developments as other nations and ancient kingdoms.
In Europe and the Middle East, the early primitive kingdoms of Egypt had the Nile, facilitating its economic expansion and power as the breadbasket of the ancient world and the Roman Empire. In other ancient empires like Persia, it had its homeland with access to natural defences and water, enabling modern-day Persia/Iran to exist for millenniums.
This pattern of nation’s raising is due to connections to waterways and other major rivers and seas and is repeated over and over again throughout human history; due to the lack of these geographical advantages, Africa remains poor.
Africa is Poor Maritime Trade
The people of Africa have historically not been great sailors due to the lack of accessible waterways. This rule is only broken regarding African nations and cultures along the Mediterranean Sea and navigational channels around and within Africa.
Due to the poor waterways, it was typically the Africans themselves who had to transport goods and services, which was incredibly difficult to accomplish.
Access to river transportation before the invention of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century was necessary for transportation to be economically viable in Africa.
Due to the poor transportation in Africa, its primary transport during the colonial period from the late 15th century until the return of Hong Kong in 1997 to the People’s Republic of China was predominantly the slave trade.
The other resource was natural resources which the current Democratic Republic of Congo lost 15 million to the exploitation government of King Leopold II of Belgium.
During the slave trade within Africa, over 11 to 14 million Africans were sold in the Atlantic slave trade and 18 million enslaved people in the Arab slave trade.
What river traffic is available in Africa is only at a depth that is possible by small river craft and boat-size ocean-going vessels, which are impractical for internal and external trade.
Furthermore, the African coastline is unaccessible and provides no natural ports for international shipping; the surrounding geography has little to offer the rest of the world other than tourist attractions, leading these regions to be vastly undeveloped because there are no economic incentives.
In a nutshell, Africa is poor because unlike the nations of Europe and Asia did not have the means or the incentives to develop a Seafaring culture.
The Zaire River, an example of a waterway within Africa, is 2900 miles long and has a volume of water second only to the Amazon; however, its rapid waterfall near the sea prevents oceangoing shipping from moving upriver.
The reader must be aware that equatorial West Africa produced the most advanced civilisations due to access to waterways.
Africa’s largest cities are Cairo and Alexandria, created due to the River Nile. The Africans as a people are not primitive or backward due to a fault of their backgrounds but primarily due to their terrible geography.
This view is supported by economists and geopolitical scientists like Thomas Sowell, an African-American economist; Tim Marshall, the author of Prisoners of Geography and Peter Zilhan.
These individuals point to geographical reasons why Africa has developed differently than other nations and places around the planet.
The land of Africa
There is a tenuous connection in the African interior with the sea as one of the major, if not the most critical geographical barriers to Africa’s economic, cultural and political development.
Land transportation in sub-Saharan Africa has become even more difficult because of the Tsese fly, which carries a fatal sickness that afflicts animals and animals for transportation.
This disease also affects the peoples of Africa without the practicable ability is denied the use of transport within Africa. Often the only means of transport is to carry goods by hand, typically bundles on people’s heads.
Without access to the necessary roads, trains and waterways, Africa has been left with the retardation of its infrastructure and means of transporting goods and services.
Without the use of pack animals as an alternative, it has crippled areas of the continent as a means of development; historically, before the invention of modern transportation, animals were used for farming the land, feeding the people, fertiliser and as a method of transportation.
In the United Kingdom, particularly northern England, during the Norman conquest in 1066 and the Harrowing of the North from 1069 to 1070, William the Conqueror killed over 30,000 oxen in Northern England, crippling transportation and the ability for the peasants to feed themselves.
The retardation of northern England has been a continuous divide between the North and South of that country, and the effects of the Harrowing of the North can still be felt after nearly a thousand years, according to the historian David Starkey.
Applying this history and logic to the continent of Africa, we can clearly be argued that without even primitive means of economic development, the continent has been held back and kept in poverty due to its very climate being a mortal enemy to economic and social development.
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Sources and Bibliography
Britannica transatlantic slave trade slavery links
Britannica Western colonialism politics link
Conquests and Cultures: An International History by Thomas Sowell link
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall link
The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeilhan link
Entomology Today Tsetse Flies Are Strange and Dangerous Insects link
History Today The Harrying of the North link