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Impact of Resources on the Movement of Products, Capital & People in Russia & Central Asia

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  • 0:00 Natural Resources & Migration
  • 1:15 Products & Capital in Russia
  • 2:05 Kazakhstan Products & Capital
  • 2:40 Elsewhere in Central Asia
  • 3:45 Human Migration
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After viewing this lesson, you should be able to describe the natural resources of the countries of Central Asia and how they lead to the movements of products, capital, and people. A short quiz will follow.

Natural Resources & Migration

People, products, and capital all move. There are billions of ships, planes, trains, and trucks moving around the world at any moment. So discussing why those movements happen is pretty important. In today's lesson we're going to focus on Central Asia and Russia. Specifically, we're going to talk about what resources are found in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and what migrations those lead to.

While it might seem obvious, the first question we need to answer is why those two things are related. Why do natural resources cause movement?

Natural resources are materials found inside or provided by the Earth naturally. This can be more varied than you might think. It includes mined materials like coal, oil, metals, and jewels, but it also includes the natural beauty of an area because that's a resource that can be exploited by tourism.

Natural resources are important to the economy, in that they make money (or capital) move. And where money moves, so do the products people buy for money, and so do the people who buy and sell them. A business might move to an area to take advantage of its natural resources, or even move away from the area because of a lack of natural resources.

Now that we've established why it happens, let's look at each country in turn and the movements of products and capital in each.

Products & Capital in Russia

Russia is the biggest country in world by land area and has huge swathes of wilderness that are difficult to access. If only because of its huge size, Russia is rich in natural resources: 20% of the world's oil and gas is produced here. But Russia also has iron ore, nickel, copper, tin, lead, titanium, diamonds, gold, and huge amounts of wood because of the Taiga forests of the north.

In fact, there is little Russia even needs to trade for - almost everything they need can be found in Russia somewhere. These natural resources are a big part of their economic success, and they are able to export huge quantities of these materials. This is by far the biggest movement of products, with capital returning in the opposite direction: towards Russia.

Products & Capital in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has grown hugely since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and a lot of this is because of its natural resources. These include highly fertile land for farming, oil, natural gas, and various metals and minerals. These metals and minerals are also used to build space infrastructure and equipment, which Kazakhstan uses to complete space launches for Russia and the United States.

Oil and gas and their products are the country's biggest exports, which is a major product flow out of the country. Again, capital tends to move in the opposite direction - back into the country.

Elsewhere in Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan has plenty of oil, natural gas, coal, and metals like mercury, tin, gold, and others. Much of it has never been extracted at all. This is partly because the position of many of these resources is awkward. For example, much of the coal is found hidden away deep in the mountains.

Similarly Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan all contain strong supplies of natural gas, oil, coal, and metallic ores. Tajikistan also has strong hydroelectric power potential and uranium, and Turkmenistan has supplies of raw chemicals.

While Russia is busy exporting a ton of these natural resources, Kazakhstan isn't far behind; this isn't as true in other parts of Central Asia. One of the biggest problems is that it is hard to exploit these resources. The government in Kyrgyzstan is highly corrupt, and Uzbekistan has a repressive regime that controls a lot of the economic activity. Starting a business or making a lot of money is difficult in every Central Asian country except Kazakhstan. As a result, the existing resources are not leading to as great a movement of products as you might expect.

Human Migration

Even if you can't move resources, people will move themselves anyway. One of the big movements of people in Central Asia is the tendency of people to migrate to Russia and Kazakhstan for a chance at a better life. Some of these people will leave their families behind and send money back to their home countries, stimulating the economy. But others will move their families as a whole, either temporarily or permanently.

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