World Geography (Economic Aspect)

Category : UPSC


World Geography (Economic Aspect)


Economic geography deals with the economic activities of human being basing upon the location, distribution and spatial organization as parts of Human Geography. Human activities meant for earning livelihood are known as economic activities. On the basis of resource and techniques used for performing these activities they are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary activity.

Primary activities are the direct interaction of human with environment that refers to the utilisation of earth's resources such as land, water, vegetation, building materials and minerals. Agriculture, pastoral farming, fishing, forestry, mining and quarrying etc. are categorized into primary economic activity.

Secondary Activities refers to the process of the value addition to natural resources by transforming the raw materials into essential finished product. Hence secondary activities are basically manufacturing, processing and construction industries.

Tertiary Activities involve the third level of human activities such as exchange of manufactured products i.e. trade and commerce.

With the advancement of new interventions these categorization has given rise to specialized services which can be termed as Quaternary and Quinary services.








It is the process of producing food, feed and fiber through the cultivation of plants, and rearing livestock and is also known as farming. About 50% of the world's population is engaged in agriculture. In India as the land and climatic conditions are favorable for carrying out agricultural activities more than 2/3rd of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The land utilized for agriculture is known as arable land.

The system of agriculture varies based on the method of farming, type of crop grown, cropping season etc., and they are as follows.


Subsistence Agriculture is the localized agricultural practice where the agricultural products are taken up by the producers or farmers only. It can be of two types:

Primitive Subsistence Agriculture is the age old practice of farming where people used to burn or slash large vegetative coverage and made them usable for agriculture. After a period of two to three years when the land started losing its fertility Aey shifted to some other area and usually repeat the same procedure. Hence it is also called as Shifting Cultivation (Jhum cultivation). This process was adopted by the nomads or tribes of tropics, mainly in Africa, South and Central America and South East Asia. In different parts of the world it has been named differently such as Jhum in North Eastern state of India, Milpa in Central America and Mexico, Ladang in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture is generally monsoon driven agriculture and mainly practiced in Asia. It is further divided into two categories. They are:

  • Intensive subsistence agriculture dominated by wet paddy where the dominant crop is rice. This is generally practiced in the areas of comparatively large population and the farm yard manure is used to maintain the fertility of the soil.
  • Intensive subsistence agriculture dominated by crops other than paddy where the relief, climate and soil along with geographical location plays a major role in crop growth. Hence these factors are all together responsible for growing of crop other than paddy, such as wheat in western India. Wheat, shorgum, barley, soyabean in northern China, Manchuria, North Korea and North Japan.


Plantation Agriculture are the farming which are being practiced in comparatively large estates with the support of huge capital investment, advance managerial and technical aids, scientific methods of cultivation, cheap labour and well - connected market. Some of the major crops of plantation agriculture are tea, coffee, cotton, oil palm, sugarcane, banana, and pineapple.

Plantation farming was introduced in European colonies situates over ironies. Later on the French introduced coffee and cocoa in Africa, British set up tea plantation in India and Srilanka, rubber in Malayasia and sugarcane and banana in West Indies, Spanish and Americans introduced coconut and sugarcane plantation in Philippines.


Extensive Commercial Grain Cultivation is practiced for wheat mainly followed by other crops such as corns, barley, oats, and rye. The farming is fully mechanized as the farms are comparatively larger than the regular farms. This type of agriculture is profoundly done in the European Steppes, Canadian Prairies, and Argentinean Pampas, the Velds of South Africa and Australian Down and Canterbury Plains of New Zealand.


Mixed Farming is usually done for the farms of medium size. Wheat is again the primary crop followed by barley, oats, rye, maize, fodder and root crops. The crops are being grown in rotation and intercropping plays an important role in maintaining soil fertility. Both crop cultivation and animal husbandry have given equal importance. One of its important characteristics is its high capital expenditure on farm machinery and building and the other is the extensive use of chemical fertilizers. This kind of farming is done usually in the developed countries of the world such as North Western Europe, parts of Eurasia and the temperate latitude of southern continents.


Dairy Farming is the advanced level of farming in the categories of milch animals. These are also capital intensive farming mainly which facilitates animal shedding, storage of fodder, feeding and mulching machine, cattle breading health care and veterinary services etc. There is no off season for this type of farming. These are extensively performed in north Western Europe, Canada and South Eastern Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania


Mediterranean Agriculture is highly specialized type of agriculture generally practiced in the countries on the either side of the Mediterranean sea in Europe and in north Africa, from Tunisia to Atlantic Coast, South California, Central Chile, south western part of South Africa and Australia. This Lind rming generally emphasizes on the production of Citrus fruits.


Viticulture is otherwise known as the cultivation of Grapes especially in the Mediterranean region. These high quality grapes are used for the production of best quality wines with distinctive flavor and the inferior quality grapes are dried to produce raisins and currants. Olives and figs are also cultivated in these regions. These crops are grown normally in winters and therefore in great demand in European and North America market. It is very useful for wine production.


Market Gardening and Horticulture are the specialized rop production of high value where vegetables, fruits and flowers are exclusively grown for urban market. This can be grown Manufacturing is the process of transforming natural resources to usable finished product as some of the raw material cannot be used in its crude form. Classification of Industries in small farms which are well connected with urban centers.

The essential factors of this practice are better irrigation facility, High Yield Variety of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides greenhouses and artificial heating in cold regions. This kind of farming is famous in densely populated industrial district of north Western Europe, north eastern United States and Mediterranean region. The world famous Tulip is being grown in Netherlands and flown to all major cities of Europe,

The kind of specialized farming being done in the area of vegetable farming is known as Truck Farming as it is named after the distance that a truck can cover over night for supplying vegetables.


Co-operative Farming is meant to pull in the resources of the society more efficiently and use them as the capital for crop growth without hampering the land or the farming practice. These movement were originated a centuries ago and has been implemented in European countries such as Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Italy.




Mining is associated with the exploration of new land with enormous of mineral resources. The improvement of mining has begun with period of industrial revolution and since then its importance is continuously increases.


Factors affecting Mining

  • The size, grade and mode of occurrence of the mineral
  • Demand for the mineral, technologies available and used for extraction, capital to develop infrastructure and finally the labour and transportation cost.


Types of Mining

Depending upon the occurrence of mineral mining is of two types:

  • Surface Mining, otherwise known as open cast mining which is comparatively easier and cheaper.
  •  Under Ground mining is being done with the help of vertical shaft which has to be sunk underground for the exploration. It is comparatively costlier and risky as at times the explorer may counter with fatal accidents due to poisonous gas, fire and floods.

Mining has lost its importance in developed countries due to high labour costs but in case of developing countries it is still a method of earning livelihood as 50% of the earnings come from mining only. Several countries of Africa and few countries of South America are still in the race.




Manufacturing is the process of transforming natural resources to usable finished product as some of the raw material cannot be used in its crude form.


Classification of Industries


Manufacturing industries can be classified on the basis of their size, input or raw material, output/product and ownership,

  1. Industries based on Size
  • Cottage or Household industries are the smallest manufacturing units producing finished products using localized raw materials and simplest manufacturing tools. The finished products are being sold in the local market only.
  • Small scale industries are the unit which provide finished product using local raw materials but sometimes these are manufactured by simple power driven machinery with semi skilled labour. It provides employment opportunities to the local people, hence raising their local purchasing power. These industries are quite famous in countries like India, China, Indonesia and Brazil.
  • Large scale industries involve large markets, raw material from various sources, specialized workers and hi-tech machinery for production as well as assemblage ofvarious finished products. It has first introduced around 200 years ago in United Kingdom, north-eastern USA and Europe but it has spread to almost all over world.


  1. 2. Industries based on Input/Raw Material used
  • Agro based industry is the industry which uses raw materials from field and farm and turns them into finished product such as sugar, pickle, fruit juice, beverages like tea and coffee, spices and oil, fats and textiles (cotton, jute, silk), rubber, etc.
  • Mineral based industries use only minerals as their raw materials which further categorized into metal and non- metal minerals. The non- metal mineral industries are cement, pottery industry. But [he metallic minerals are further divided into ferrous (which contain iron particle in it) and no ferrous (which does contain iron particle in the metal)
  • Chemical based industry involves natural chemical minerals such as mineral- oil, petroleum, salt, sulphur, potash industry. At times raw materials are obtained from coal and wood. Some of the finished products are synthetic fiber, plastics, and Petroleum products like Vaseline etc.
  • Forest based industry uses forest product as their raw materials such as log of woods bamboo, and grasses are used to produce finished product such as paper, wooden furniture etc.
  • Animal based industries involve raw material extracted from animal either live or dead. Leather and wool are such type of industries.


  1. Industries based on Output/Finished Product
  • Basic industries are those industry whose finished product are being used as the raw material for other industries like iron and steel industries, cotton textile industries etc.
  • Consumer based industries are the manufacturer of those goods which can be directly consumed by the consumer such as bread, biscuits, tea, soaps, paper, toiletries etc. These are also called non-basic goods.


  1. Industries based on Ownership
  • Public Sector Industries are owned and managed by Government only and also called As Public Sector Undertakings (PSU). In some countries like India both central and state government impose their authority on the industries sometimes individually or jointly.
  • Private Sector Industries are entirely owned and governed by private companies and hence called as Private Sector Undertaking.
  • Joint Sector Industries have shares and participation of both Private and Public sectors.


  1. Industries based on weight
  • Heavy industries involves heavy raw materials and its production is also heavy for example iron and steel industry
  • Light industries use comparatively lighter material as input and the finished product is also light for example electrical industries.


Major industrial centers of the world



Major Industrial Centers



(Midland is the

largest Industrial

region centered

at Birmingham)








New Castle


Shefield (World?s


cutlery town)


(Lancashire region)

Liverpool & Birkenhead

Along Manchester


Pot Glasgow

Belfast region (Main

industrial region of


 Iron & Steel. Heavy



Brewing (largest brewery

town of


Poltery (Pottery capital of



Iron & Sleel

Worsted textile


Cutler,-. Iron & Steel

Cotton textile


Heavy chemicals

Iron & Steel


Shipbuilding &

Linen industry












St. Etienne








Iron & Steel

Armaments & Bicycle


Silk making

Oil refineries

Aircraft & Transport


Iron & Steel



region, served by

Rhine River, is the

largest industrial

region of Germany

This industrial

region is connected

to North sea by

Dortmund -Ems








Jena Zeiss


Karl Marx Stadt

Railway engineering

Leather. Brewing, Engineering

Chemical, electrical engineering

Iron & Steel.


Photographic equipment. Musical



Iron & Steel. Textile

Optical instrument

Photographic equipment









Iron & Steel. Guns. pistols &

other firearms

Diamond cutting

Linen textiles



Luxemberg city





Shipbuilding and marine


Diamond cutting

Tin smelting













Engineering and Textiles






Milan (main industrial region) Turin (Detroit of Italy)

Silk textile Motor Car


(Great Lake region)

is the most important

industrial region













San Fransisco (Silicon Valley)


Iron and Steel

(Iron & Steel capital of the world)

World's largest synthetic

rubber and tyre making centre

Motor car and Aeroplane

Cars and it's spare parts

Iron and Steel


Iron and Steel


Iron and Steel, Machine  (It is also the largest flour


Montreal Toronto Otawa Hamilton Birmingham) of Canada) Quebec

Shipbuilding and Aircraft Engineering and Automobile Paper Iron and Steel. Engineerin" Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering


Moscow and Gorky Magnitogost Leningrad (St. Petersbeig)

Iron and Steel, Chemicals Iron and Steel, Oil refining Textile. Chemical. Paper



Iron & Steel and Heavy Machinery


Bueons Aires



Shanghai Wuhan

Textile and Machinery Textile. Machinery. Shipbuilding. Iron and Steel


Nagoya (Detroit of Japan) Osaka (Manchester of Japan) Kyoto and Kobe Tokyo Nagasaki

Aircraft, Car, Machinery Shipbuilding. Textile. Iron & Steel Shipbuilding. Testtile. Iron & Steel Shipbuilding, Engineering, and Textile Shipbuilding, Iron and Steel. Machinery





Tertiary Activities focuses both on production and exchange. Here production involves provision of services which are to be consumed. There is no such involvement of physical processing of raw material rather it's a service meant for exchanging the finished product. Services such as Trade and Transports belong to Tertiary economic activities.


1. Trade and commerce


Trading is essentially involves buying and selling of products intended for earning profit. The process is further divided into retail and wholesale.


2. Transport


It is a service which facilitates the process of trading of people, materials and manufactured products with ease. In other words it is the organized industry to satisfy man's need of mobility. On the basis of the modes of transport it can be of four types:

  • Land Transport is the most preferred transportation system with reference to the movement of human being, animals and goods from one location to another. The two vital media which facilitate land transport across the world are Roads and Railways.


Road Transport

  • Germany was the first country to develop nation wide highway network.
  • U. S. A. has the largest highway network in world followed by India.
  • Highway 401 in Ontario (Canada) is the busiest highway and is the widest in world.
  • The Karakoram highway in Pakistan to China is the highest international highway in world.
  • China was the world's largest network of express ways network which extends over 1,23,000 km. USA ranks second in terms of expressways (7,7017).
  • Transport Canadian Highway links Victoria with St. John City (7,821 km).
  • Alaskan Highway joins the city of Anchorage in Alaska to Edmonlan in Canada. Covering a distance of 2,237 km.
  • Pan American Highway is the largest international highway linking USA, Central America and South America. It covers a distance (30,000 km)
  • Stuart Highway is the longest highway in Australia starting from Berdum in north Australia it reaches upto Melbourne situated in South Australia.
  • Road transport is as the most important communication medium as it facilitates door to door services for transporting goods and hence becoming the backbone of world's economic and social infrastructure.


Rail Transport

The history of railway were dated back in 650 BC and it was started with the introduction of wagan ways which were said to be further developed and widely used in 1550 AD in Germany with the invention of steam engine the railway grew many folds over the years. The first steam locomotive was built in 1804 in united kingdom. The first ever mechanised rail transport was introduced by England and ever since railways have remained as an important means of land transport.

  • United State (2,50,000 km), China (1,21,000 km), Russia (90,000 km) and India (65,808) rank from first to fourth respectively in world scenario of largest railway network.
  • India ranks first in carrying passenger per year by rail. Japan and Germany rank second and third in carrying rail passengers respectively.
  • Steam engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen and was improved by James Watt.
  • The first full-scale working railway steam locomotive was built in the United Kingdom in 1804 by Richard Trevithick.
  • In 1811, John Blenkinsop designed first successful and practical railway locomotives.
  • Dieselization was the replacement of steam locomotive with the diesel locomotive. This began in 1930s.
  • Electrification of rail was started by Robert Davidson in 1838 in the form of electrical railway car.
  • The Trails-Australian Railway includes the largest straight stretch of saithack in the world: 301 miles without any curve.
  • Qinghai-Tibet Railway in China is the world's highest train journey, reaching the height of 5,072m above sea level at the Tanggula Pass.
  • World’s longest railway tunnel is the Seikan Tunnel, connecting Japan's northern Hokkaida island with Honshu. It is 33.46 miles long.
  • The Napier to Gisborne Railway line is unique, as it crosses the main runway of Yesborne Airport.
  • Venice Simplon orient express in the train against which all other luxury trains are measured.
  • The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest rail line in world. It connects St. Petersburg to Vladivostok via Moscow. Since 1916 its branches stretches into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It runs 9,332 kilometers (5,798.6 miles) and takes full week to cover this distance.
  • Trans-continental Railways connecting are part of a continent to its other part.


Major Trans-Continental Railways of World

  • Canadian Pacific Rail Route: It runs from Halifax to Vancouver
  • Candian National Rail Route: It joins St. John City to Vancouver.
  • Trans-Siberian Rail Route: It connects St. Petersburg to Vlalivostok.
  • Trans-caucasus Rail Route: It starts from Batum, cross Tergana and reaches Krusk.
  • North Trans Continental Rail Route: It originates at Seattle (USA) New York.
  • Mid Trans Continental Rail Route: It joins san Francisco to New York.
  • Southern Trans Continental Rail Routes: It runs from Los Angeles to New York and then reaches New Orleans.
  • Oriental Express Rail Route: Connects Paris to Kustuntunia (Turkey)
  • Cape-Cairo Rail Route: It is the longest rail route of Africa running from Cape Town in Southern part of continent and reaches Ciro near the coast of Mediterranean sea situated in the northern part of continent.
  • Trans-Andean Rail Route : Starting from Valparais (Chile) reaches other end of the continent running west to east to Buenos Aires (Argentina).
  • Trans-Australian Continental Rail Route: It connects west end of Australia to east end starting from Perth and reaches Sydney.
  • Transe-Asiatic Railways Line: This is a proposed project of united Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific. It will connect 28 countries including China, Thailand Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.


Water Transport

Water transport is considered to be one of the oldest form

of transport. It is cheapest mode of transport. The cost of

production alongwith the cost of operation is also low incase of water transport. There are evidences which shows that boats were used in the form dugout canoe (a boat made from a hallowed tree trunk) in ancient period. It is considered that Egyptians probably were the first to use sail boat. The Mesopotamian and Indus valley civilization excavation have shown the presences of habour and ports.

Water transportation includes canals, lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. It is mainly divided into two categories:


Sea Routes

Oceans provide smooth traversable highway in all direction with low maintenance cost. Major sea routes are:


The North Atlantic Sea Route

It is linking two major industrially developed regions of the

world such as North-Eastern USA and North-Western Europe.


The Mediterranean-Indian Ocean Sea Route

It is considered to be the most important sea route as at serves more countries and people than this route are port said, Aden, Mumbai, Colombo, and Singapore. The distance covered by this route has drastically reduced with the construction of suex canal.


The cape of Good Hope Sea Route

It connects west European and West African countries with

Brazil, Argentina and Urguay in South America.


The North Pacific Sea Route

It is connecting Western European, North American with

Australian countries is used for reaching Hongkong, Philippines and Indonesia. Honolulu is the most important sea port of this route.


Inland Water Transport

River, Canals, Lakes and Coastal area the important components of inland water transport as they facilitate transportation of goods and services with in the country. Boats qand steam are the important means of transport. The significant waterways of the world are:


The Rhine Waterway

River Rhine flows through Germany and Netherland. It is

navigable for 700 km. It serves industrial areas of Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.


The Dawube Waterway

River Danube serves Eastern Europe as it rises from Black forest and flows eastward through many countries. The nevigation is possible only upto Taurna Sevenin, this river transport facilitates the export of wheat, maize, timber and machinery.


The Volga Waterways

Volga is one of important water ways of Russia which provides a navigable water route of 11,200 km and it drains into Caspian sea.

The Great Lake - St. Lawrence Seaways

Together with canal and welland canal, the great lake of North America Superior, Huron Erie and Ontario forms the Great lakes - St. Lawrence Seaways. Major ports of this routes are, Duluth and Buffalo.


Air Transport

It is the fastest way of transport but at the same time it is the costliest among the all medium of communication, still it is preferred by passenger for travelling across countries or sending cargoes across countries. The growth of Air Transport has reduced the travel time across the world to a great extent. But keeping in view the manufacturing ofaircrafts and its associated elaborated infrastructure like hangars, landing, fuelling and maintaining these facilities, the air transport is considered to be the costliest among all transportation system.


Inter-continental Air routes

  • These are the distinct air routes of Northern Hemisphere. Denser network of these Air routes are available in Eastern U.S.A. Western Europe and Southeast Asia.
  • U.S.A. only accounts for 60% of the total network.
  • The major nodal points or airport of this intercontinental air route are New York, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, Moscow, Karachi, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.
  • Africa, Asiatic part of Russia and South America are deprived of any such services.
  • There are few air services which are available only between 100 and 350 latitude in the southern hemisphere.


Pipeline Transport

  • It is the excellent mode of transporting gaseous of liquid matters from one place to another.
  • Cooking gas or L.P.G, oil and natural gas are the items that can be transported extensively through pipelines in many parts of the world.
  • In some countries like New Zealand milk is supplied from farm to factories with the help of pipelines.
  • In U.S.A. oil is one of the major products which is transported through pipeline from producing areas to consuming areas. Some of the other countries transporting oil through pipelines are Europe, Russia, West Asia and India.
  • Big Inch is one of the famous pipelines which connect the oil wells of the Gulf of Mexico to the North-eastern States.


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