The role of geography for the prospects of development has been hotly debated the last decade. Economists, like Jeffrey Sachs, have suggested that a country that are situated in the tropics or that are landlocked face a much larger challenge in development, for a number of reasons.
In Gapminder World, you can now explore two of the key indicators in this discussion: latitude (i.e. how far North a country is) and whether a country is landlocked or not. See example-graph. A latitude of zero means that the country are situated on the equator.
High incomes are more common among the countries that are away from the equator, either to the North or to the South. There are presently no high-income countries that are both close to the equator and land-locked.
There is a lot of literature on the subject of geography and development, “Geography and Economic Growth (pdf)” by Gallup, Sachs & Mellinger (1998) is one of the seminal papers that (re-)started the discussion. There you find some possible explanations for the observed pattern.
How to find the indicators in Gapminder World
– Find the How far to the North-indicator under “Geography and infrastructure”.
– Find the Landlocked-indicator under colour categorization (it can only be used as colour).