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

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  • 0:01 South Asia: Natural…
  • 4:09 Movements of Capital & People
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
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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 watching this video, you will be able to describe the natural resources of the countries of South Asia and how they lead to the movement of products, capital, and people. A short quiz will follow.

Natural Resources & Products of South Asia

South Asia is the area usually considered to include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. These countries combined stretch over 1.7 million square miles. Do you think there are natural resources somewhere in those 1.7 million square miles? You bet there are! And that's what we're going to talk about today.

But first of all, what are natural resources? Natural resources are things that are naturally provided by the Earth that can be used by humans for practical effect. They include forests, coal, oil, fruit, pretty places we can sell to tourists: anything that's natural and useful. They're also great for the economy and a strong economy often means higher living standards. And when the economy is moving, people, products, and capital often move with it.

In total, India has a lot of natural resources, particularly oil, coal, high quality iron ore, and ferroalloys. However, relative to its population, India has less than other places. Another big problem is that it's currently hard for investors to get permits and purchase land to take advantage of those resources; the government makes it a slow process. India also has a lot of fertile land along river flood plains, which it exploits to produce crops. It could be argued that the natural presence of spices like coriander in northern India is significant culturally; Indian food is certainly a major cultural export, whose value is hard to put a number to. In terms of dollar value though, wheat, rice, cotton, and peanuts are important resources, the products of which India exports to the rest of the world. Bangladesh has similar natural resources to India; if anything, land is even more fertile than in India.

Pakistan has an extensive supply of natural gas, some low quality coal, oil, iron ore, and the potential for hydroelectric power. Like India, the country also exports a large amount of agricultural products, particularly textiles and rice. But Pakistan's biggest natural resource is probably land itself. Pakistan has an important strategic location, and relatively large amounts of land considering the size of its population, at least compared to other South Asian countries that are packed with people. Pakistan's location is of strategic importance for several reasons. It's near Afghanistan, which is war-prone and frequently home to terrorist groups, it's a potential launch pad into Iran, it has access to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf, and it's close to powerful countries like India, China, and Russia.

Afghanistan's natural resources are largely unexploited, yet there are plenty of them. Afghanistan has coal, iron ore, copper ore, gemstones, gold, and in particular, natural gas and oil. It's been said that Afghanistan could become a major center for mining one day. Agricultural products include fruit and nuts, but opium is the main export and is considered the most valuable.

Nepal's main natural resource is hydroelectric power; the fast flow of water in the mountainous area has allowed it to sell large amounts of electricity to India and this could be expanded further. Tourism is also a big deal, as mountaineers want to explore the largest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. Bhutan's natural resources are similar to Nepal's except that it also has a lot of timber and it's doing little to exploit its tourism potential, since Bhutan generally prefers outsiders to stay away.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives have natural resources like limestone, graphite, and other minerals, and lots of successful plantations, but their biggest natural resource is probably the natural beauty of the islands. Tourism attracts 800,000 people to the Maldives every year and about 1.5 million people to Sri Lanka. Given how beautiful Sri Lanka is, you could argue there's potential for even more.

Most of these natural resources lead to exports, whether exporting the resources themselves, or the products each country creates with those exports. They're a big driver of the movement of products around the world.

Movements of Capital and People

Many of the natural resources of South Asia are exported in the natural form or as manufactured products. This brings capital to the region. However, when capital moves, people tend to also move. Companies come to South Asia to take advantage of those resources, to set up businesses, and to relocate their families. Natural resources also cause people to do the opposite - to leave South Asia. For example, men in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in particular, will leave their families bound for the Middle East to find work and send money back home. And those opportunities only exist because of the huge oil reserves there. While people leaving a country might not seem desirable, those funds are being returned to South Asian countries, which is a benefit to the economy.

And then there's tourism. When countries like the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal are able to attract tourists, that is a major seasonal movement of capital and people into the country.

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