Bolivia – How Being Landlocked Hinders Development

Much of Bolivia’s trade passes through Chile, and the deals between them cannot reduce the distance between the Bolivian cities and their historic coastline. This would not be an impediment to the Bolivian economy if trade could flow freely, but it cannot.

Most of the world’s 45 landlocked countries are poor. Of the 15 lowest scoring countries by the Human Development Index, 8 are landlocked; all of these are within Africa. Landlocked areas within large countries- the PRC being a good example of this- are normally far less developed and far poorer. Even within countries with access to coastline throughout, areas closer to more heavily used ports are more developed- as shown in the difference between areas like Lincolnshire and Yorkshire vs Kent and Surrey within the UK.

Even compared to countries with similar climates and histories, landlocked countries have still lagged behind in development; the GDP difference between two such countries can be as high as 40%.

Some landlocked countries have managed to develop strong economies- such as Switzerland. Switzerland’s main industry is banking, which requires no transport, so their geographical location does not matter to their economy. Most of Switzerland’s physical exports are small and expensive. Countries like Botswana (which is still an LIC) rely on diamonds, which can be flown, as opposed to shipped, equally. No landlocked countries cannot readjust to neighbour richer countries, or choose to have diamonds, so many landlocked countries are stuck in a bad position for their own development.

Landlocked countries are seen as unreliable by businesses, as transit states can interfere. A strike by Chilean officials in 2013 caused a 20km long line of lorries in Bolivia; this is an especially great risk in Africa, where civil strife is more common, so trade routes often have to be adjusted. Businesses need to be more heavily stocked so that they can cope with the unpredictable situation more easily.

International agreements promise all countries will have access to the sea, but goods still have to be moved to the coastline through other states, and responsibility relies on the government of the states that good travel through.  Border officials in both the source country and the transit country often accept or demand bribes, and cause further delays. Lorries travelling to poor, landlocked countries can end up travelling at half the speed of lorries in neighbouring maritime countries.

Landlocked countries generally attracted fewer entrepreneurs from other countries, and thus fewer ideas that could then develop the economy further; some economists calculate that Bolivia’s GDP may be up to 20% larger if it were not landlocked.

Seychelles – Tourism

The Seychelles are an African nation 1600km East of Kenya. It was uninhabited until the last few centuries, when it fell under French occupation. The culture is a mix of French, African, Chinese and Indian (the main ethnicities). The main industries are fishing, tourism and beverages. 74% of the population work in service industries, and 25% of the population is directly involved in the tourism industry. The official language is French (although Creole is spoken almost as widely), making it easily accessible to many tourists- English is also frequently used. The main food crops are sweet potatoes, vanilla farming, coconuts and cinnamon. They do not have any considerable secondary industries, so pollution rates are generally low.

Historical context

  • Seychelles gained independence in 1976
  • Their first airport was built in 1971- Seychelles International Airport, leading to a large increase in tourism, largely from Western celebrities
  • Some people (including the PM, Francis Rene) thought that tourism was deteriorating the economy, leading to the PM over throwing the president, intending to give the poor more money
  • Rene tried to decrease tourism to “keep the Seychelles for the Seychellois”
  • 1979 constitution said they were a one party socialist party, and the first draft was not passed
  • The PM was found to be involved in various crimes, such as money laundering and even murder
  • South Africa sent 43 mercenaries posing as Rugby players to depose Rene (known as the Seychelles Affair), which didn’t work- and neither did the two other attempts.
  • Democracy was restored in 1991- under harsh political pressure
  • Rene didn’t step down until 1993, when the multi-party system was enforced

Seychelles’ tourism was affected by the Persian Gulf War; afterwards the government has been trying to reduce their reliance on tourism (and failing) to reduce risks. Fishing has increased, and is now the main industry again.

Originally in 1971, plantations and tourism were largely opposing industries. Tourism was more profitable, so plantations declined. The government encouraged a lot of foreign investment to upgrade hotels and services, leading to there being many hotels and resorts, and a lot of real estate.

Tourism dependency is being reduced, the government is especially encouraging farming, fishing, small-scale manufacture and off-shore finance.

Economy generally

Seychelles has a major crack-down on piracy, as pirates cost 4% of the GDP annually- local fishing can be cost up to 46%. Seychelles has the largest incarceration per capita as a result.

The Seychelles have 14 airports, 7 of which are paved. They have the smallest population of any independent African State, this is clearly for their past tourism industry. The transport system is generally fairly good for an LIC.

Touristic appeal

Other than a socialist past and issues with piracy, the Seychelles are still quite appealing to tourists.

A lot of wildlife was eliminated upon human habitation, but this was a very small proportion compared to many similar places, such as Hawaii. The islands have still been left with many rare species. The Coco de Mer is essentially two fused coconuts, only found on 2 islands of more than 116 in total.

Much of the land is covered in national parks or world heritage sites, protecting the huge amounts of rare wildlife (most of which tourists are allowed to see). They have social gardens for  wildlife and quite a few botanical gardens.

The beaches have a very good reputation, making the scenery very appealing. The temperature is generally fairly warm, with temperature ranges on the main island generally between 24-30°C, with average national highs between 28-31°C, although it is humid. May to November have breezes, so this is generally the best time for tourism.

The local fish (around 42 coral islands and 67 raised coral islands, as well as some others) are unafraid of divers, although much of the coral has been bleached.

The island are interesting to geologists, as they are some of the hardest  and granitic islands in the world- 45 islands are granitic.

There are no significant oil or gas reserves, reducing future risks of pollution, meaning it will stay environmentally in tact for a while.

The culture is very diverse and interesting. They have large amounts of curries in the typical diet and large amounts of tropical fruit and fish. Shark chutney appears fairly commonly; they also have very diverse music from this. It is also fairly rare, as it is one of very few matriarchal nations. It is normally for mothers to be unwed, and fathers are legally obligated to support their children, but have full working rights, and their working is the norm.

The Seychelles had very strong advertising during 1971-76, bringing in a lot of tourists, but there are now significant environmental concerns.

Managing tourism

There is a limit on 150,000 tourists per year and 4,000 hotel beds on their 3 largest islands. They favour European tourists as they tend to pay the most on holiday.

Speargun and dynamite fishing are completely banned and the Seychelles are a world leader in eco-tourism.


Why Trump is ISIS’ President

I’m not armed with stats, or anything like that for this, beyond what google can quickly equip me with and having read through many, many articles on how people become terrorists for an MUN conference where I was representing Russia in the Security Council last year.  I am going to do my best to afford rambling or ranting- that doesn’t help the case, and it doesn’t help my attempts to store mostly pure fact, even here.

It’s been on my mind quite intensely the last week or so, thanks to the result of a certain election.

Deporting people for being Muslim is EXACTLY what terrorists want.

If I could remember where I found it, I would use the actual quotes of the psychologist who said the fuller version of this, but essentially people don’t become angry at their society unless their society gives them something to be angry at.

The general plan of ISIS, from what I read then, is to be so intimidating to everyone that non-Muslims make the assumption that all Muslims are like that. They would then start to act in slight prejudiced manners, which would eventually lead to conscious prejudice. After that, it would become institutionalised, so that the public role itself was attacking Muslims. ISIS then assumed that the marginalised Muslims would turn by default to them due to hopes of being more included.

We skipped right past slight prejudice: One of the girls in my form at school described how just the day after the Paris attacks, a young Muslim woman had been at a tube station and been pushed into the path of an oncoming train very deliberately by a fellow passenger, which my classmate’s mother had witnessed. She’d survived, due to hitting the train at a very fortunate angle, and rebounded onto the platform, but she was definitely hurt. This was not reported in any major newspapers, which is somewhat understandable due to wanting to focus on the attacks in the short term, but I really doubt that it was the only incident, and I feel any incident that may have been an attempted hate-related killing should be known, even if it were a few weeks later.

The Leave campaign is a good demonstration of institutionalising prejudice too. The actual campaign wasn’t anywhere near as racist as I was anticipating, but at least in the area I live, the only reasons for people voting out seemed to be that they hadn’t fact checked data, that they hadn’t thought critically about data or, seemingly overwhelmingly, that they just didn’t want Muslim people diluting the culture, or even worse statements about Islam (The amount of people over 20 who respond like that is terrifying). The EU parliament is actually more representative than the UK parliament (The UK has 19% women, the EU has 37% women, just for starters), with a closer representation of what people would vote as well, and no good politician would sign up to a deal where £350 million was being spent daily on something not in direct national interest. So I don’t think the campaign was racist- just really poorly fact checked- but a lot (not all) of the votes were racist.

And a lot of the most popular ideas from Brexit campaigners went along the lines of forcibly removing migrants from our country. Many people got called racist terms used against them over the first few weeks after the vote- including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who got called the “p” word numerous times. Clearly a lot of people saw the Brexit vote as an excuse to increase our openness to racist attitudes. I’m not saying don’t express your views- I’m saying consider your views and if they’re justified, which racism is not.

Meanwhile we started increasing paranoia thoroughly throughout society. France had good reason to- I’d be concerned if France wasn’t paranoid right now- but everyone increasing their fear is exactly what terrorists want. It’s in the name. A terrorist is someone who aims to achieve their goals through means such as mass murder to induce a state of terror among the population. The very worst thing you can do after a terrorist act is to be overly terrified, and to act on the terror to be prejudiced. Terrorists thrive under oppression.

President-elect Donald Trump stated in many of his speeches that he plans to stop Muslims coming into the country full stop. Far beyond the sheer logistical issues of a complete ban (and the question of what happens if one of the few Muslim senators (I can find two) had a holiday abroad during their term and the rule meant they couldn’t return, then senate couldn’t enter session?), the pressure this will put on Muslim people will be tremendous. Quite apart from shutting them really going to have no impact on migration rates, the hatred this will cause among Muslim populations could be enormous. Tightening up immigration controls tends to increase migration as people rush through to reach family they won’t see otherwise. I know that a minute proportion of people are ever radicals, but if anything is going to raise hatred, and therefore radicalism, making people feel imprisoned and hated by the general population is going to do it.

The US has been responsible for, by conservative estimates, 10 million Muslims’ deaths in the Middle East just since 1990, whilst the total deaths to terrorism in this time has been, judging from graphs, possibly around 390,000 worldwide, and Europe has a figure at scale of 10 around 20,600 deaths in this time. I’m not saying any of those deaths are justifiable- just that they are nothing compared to 10 million deaths.

graph source:

Even just Trump’s current pleas of removal of 2 million undocumented migrants are unrealistic- the official estimate is 168,000 undocumented migrants in total in the USA, which is absolutely minute and really not enough people, in a population of 324,600,000 for it to be worth worrying over if they’re contributing to the economy- which they are. Trump claims that immigration control does not know who Middle Eastern refugees are when they come in, despite current legislation meaning that about 2 years are spent checking out every single potential migrant, which should be plenty to work out if they’re a likely terrorist.

Prejudice breeds contempt, and contempt spawns radicals.

The best figures I can find for how many British ISIS members there are is about 1,600. There are 2,660,116 Muslim people in the United Kingdom. That means that 0.0006015% of Muslims are ISIS sympathisers, let alone actual ISIS agents. Given the amount of hatred aimed at Muslim people, that’s pretty low. The chances of being murdered in the UK are 0.0062%, including by terrorist attack. You are 100x less likely to even meet an ISIS agent as to be murdered. The UK has a 2.9 per 100,000 death rate from car crashes, amounting to a 0.0029% chance. You have a 10% chance of being sexually assaulted in the UK in your life time, which is 16,625x more likely than meeting a terrorist. Basically, if you’re willing enough to take risks of walking out into the street, you should be willing to admit that terrorism can’t be that likely to affect you-as the statistics prove.

So basically, please, please, stop trying to fight terrorism by hating on Muslim people. All the Muslims I know are perfectly reasonable human beings, with perfectly reasonable sets of opinions and views. US attacks on the Middle East for, let’s face it, oil, have killed far more people than terrorist attacks- at least 20x as many. People only start practicing terrorism if their society has driven them to it, and I can see why just the US war record would do it.

Hatred never solved anything. If Russia (where, from what I could find, the 10% Muslim population seems to be treated reasonably fairly) is being more inclusive than your supposedly highly liberal society towards a religious group, you might want to check out why that is and consider it critically.