Land-Locked Islands

UNESCO Courier, October 1986 | Go to article overview

Land-Locked Islands


Land-locked islands ISLAND States and land-locked States, in spite of their different geographical situations, possess one common feature--their relative isolation.

The world's land-locked countries are: in Europe, the principality of Andorra, Austria, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia; in Africa, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Botswana, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Swaziland, Chad, Zambia and Zimbabwe; in Asia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Mongolian People's Republic; in South America, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Some of these States owe their existence to the preservation of a strong ethnic and cultural originality and of forms of social and economic organization which have enabled them to survive in spite of outside pressures. A number of them are set within a barrier of mountains: the Himalayas in the case of Nepal and Bhutan, the Drakensbergs in the case of Lesotho, and the Alps in the case of Switzerland. Others were deprived of access to the sea as a result of the dislocation of the Austro-Hungarian, Spanish, French, Belgian and British empires.

These countries form an extremely disparate group. They differ in terms of history, their endowment of natural resources and their political systems. Nevertheless they do share, especially if they are developing countries, a number of broad general features.

Land-locked States are, for example, generally speaking less wealthy, less populous and smaller than coastal States. In addition, the proportion of the working population engaged in agriculture is much higher than that engaged in industry and the services sector correspondingly lower. Finally, perhaps because of the absence of ports as centres of natural growth, the percentage of the population living in urban areas is far lower than in coastal States.

The land-locked problem effects all aspects of development, but its consequences are most severe in the field of external trade. Most land-locked countries are remote from world markets; imports and exports must be shipped through another State, in some cases several States.

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