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There are physical, political, economic and environmental reasons why some locations remain largely 'switched off' from globalisation (North Korea or Sahel countries).

Some places remain 'switched off' (with few connections to other countries) in a world which is increasingly more globalised. The reasons for this can be categorised as physical, political, economic and environmental.


The Sahel region is in Africa and is just south of the Sahara desert. Countries include Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, etc. They are typically the most poverty struck countries in the world. Chad has the highest infant mortality rate globally at 85 per 1000 births. In 2012, over 18 million people suffered severe food insecurity. There are a number of physical reasons for these outcomes:

  • Many Sahel countries are landlocked, limiting trade as ports facilitate this greatly.

  • Poor quality roads and infrastructure worsens trading ability and increases costs, making exports less attractive in foreign markets, meaning that the countries receive less FDI.

  • Their economy is dominated by the primary sector (subsistence farming), which is heavily reliant on weather conditions and is therefore unreliable. The expansion of desertification into these countries, as well as global warming depleting water supplies, will affect this industry even more.

Similarly to the Sahel region, countries that occupy the Himalayas (Nepal) are limited in their ability to trade and transport as the terrain isn't optimal for infrastructure construction, and Winter snow prohibits growth.


North Korea is a hereditary autocracy and a command economy. This means that the government owns all factors of production, and since it is a dictatorship, harsh and unrelenting laws are imposed upon the population. Since 1955 they have adopted an ideology of self-sufficiency, introduced as the 'Junche' policy, which is facilitated through import substitution; the country today still relies heavily on China and Russia for trade due to mismanagement and misallocation of resources. Evidence of their switched off approach to governing is prevalent: they only allow 3 TV channels which are all domestic, they prohibit travel and tourism and they do not allow citizens access to the internet. In 2016, North Korea had a GDP/capita of $1300 (one of the lowest in the world).


  • The Sahel region countries have collectively the lowest GDP/capita and HDI ratings for any region in the world.

  • Poor infrastructure and a lack of human capital (skilled workforce) has meant that there is little offshoring and inward FDI flows. Chad's literacy rate is 22%.

  • Few can afford imported goods and travel due to a lack of economic opportunity.

  • The food produced from farming is mostly eaten by the population rather than traded.


  • The Sahel region countries have a semi-arid climate, with only 200-400mm of precipitation per year, meaning that agricultural output is heavily constrained by weather conditions. This makes their economy unreliable and unpredictable, stunting growth.

  • Climate change is increasing aridity and the rate of desertification, meaning farming exports will be further reduced.

In general, desert, polar and tropical biomes are not the most economically efficient as they are most difficult to build infrastructure in and have harsh weather conditions. Coastal regions are best, as they massively facilitate all flows between places.

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