By Tim Marshall

Geographical location is a poker hand nature dealt to countries, which did and will shape fortune of nations for years to come. That is the point Tim made in his book Prisoners of geography, well written and a boon to read. The book is packed with historical events, geographical details and interesting titbits about origin of names. Despite the amount of information, reader never get bored thanks to Tim’s juicy story telling coupled with sprinkle of sarcasm here and there.

Why is geography such a defining factor in a country’s politics and economy? Because it dictates how a country manage to produce goods, facilitate trades and fend off enemies. Human settlement began with the domestification of rice plant. Early economy was chiefly based on argriculture, which is dependent on the amount of habitable land a country has. North European countries were blessed with habitable costal plains, which allowed them to produce more, and flat land which made it easy to travel between cities. Besides, another common feature of rich countries is having a navigable river system that allow the flow of goods downstream to trade with faraway regions. Last but not least, having the geographical advantage of natural barrier of mountains, forests or adequate inner depth to fallback in case of invasion is crucial to the prosperity of nations. Even with advancements in technology nowaday, armies would still suffer from harsh condition of desserts, mountains… Those natural barriers not only defend against approaching armies, but also pull the people within it together to create common culture and form concepts of nations. Countries without those natural barriers are using military and economical means they have to gain proper buffer zones and to make sure that no enemies stay too close.

Another troubling theme that shadows chapters on Africa and Middle East is how colonialists helped create long lasting turmoil in the regions by randomly dividing it into administrative areas without much concern about the actual cultural divide.

Well, that is an overly short summary of a good book. It is a recommended read to gain general understanding of the modern world’s dynamics.