One’s residence is a critical determinant of the level of productivity and well-being. However, an individual’s residence is not necessarily a permanent attribute or a fully accessible choice (Desmet et al. 905). For instance, it is customary to find evidence of families, individuals, or even communities migrating to places that provide better, reliable, and desirable opportunities. However, the choice of a place to settle in is often, as noted by Desmet et al., hindered and influenced by an assortment of factors (904).
For instance, if the place of choice has aboriginal inhibitors, the migrating families and communities cannot settle there. The migrating communities will be forced to seek an alternative place to settle into (Desmet et al. 903). However, if the migrating families find a new place to settle into, the geography of the new area is likely to impact the development of the community (Desmet et al. 903). For instance, geography can influence how society develops in economics, politics, and societal organization. An excellent example of how geography impacts development in Ancient Greece, which influenced the political, economic and social development of Greek city-states.
Geographical Impact on Societal Development
The geographical outlay of a place is often described in terms of the physical features evident in that place. As such, the geography of Ancient Greece can be described to comprise islands, mountains, and the sea as the key physical features. The mountainous landscape of Ancient Greece ensured the inhabitants of Greek cities were physically separated and isolated from one another (Zurbach 921). The distinct societies and cities developed and grew independently of each other as the Greeks could not easily traverse the mountains. For instance, Sparta and Athens emerged as two very different states socially. In Athens, society was categorized into numerous classes and sections. At the top were Athena’s aristocrats who owned large estates. The middle class contained small farmers. Below the farmers were the thetes, the urban craftsmen (Zurbach 956). The fourth social class, the Metics, was composed of immigrants who could not own land but could run businesses (Zurbach 956). The lowest social class was the enslaved people (Zurbach 956). The enslaved people had no rights and could be killed by the owner without repercussions. In addition, women did not have any rights in the Athenian democratic structure.
On the other hand, the social structure of Sparta is significantly different from that of Athens. For instance, unlike Athens, the Spartans had established three social classes. At the top of the structure was the Spartiate who lived in barracks, hence were military professionals and had voting rights (Zurbach 957). The second social class was composed of freemen, Perioeci, mainly artisans and artisans who could not vote. Foreigners belonged to this group. The last social group was Helots, who constantly rebelled and resisted the subjugation of the Spartiate (Zurbach 957). The Helots were treated as enslaved people and were often required to submit at least half of their farm produce to the Spartiates who owned the land. In addition to social classes, another notable distinction enforced by the two city-states’ separation and isolation regards women’s rights (Zurbach 957). Unlike in Athens, women residents of Sparts had few rights and were allowed to be independent.
Geographical Impact on Political Development
The ancient cities of Greece were hugely isolated as the mountainous landscape impeded fast and efficient communication between regions. As a result, separate “city-states” developed, with each city having its form of governance. Therefore, although the Greeks had a common language, culture, traditions, and religious beliefs, the absence of a central government abolished the likelihood of establishing a large government (Adamson 15). Therefore, the city-states were at liberty to develop distinctive governance systems to suit the residents (Sarma 70). In addition, the proximity to the sea and the difficulties associated with traversing mountainous regions shaped and influenced the politics of military development. Consequently, the Greek city-states relied heavily on naval powers (Sarma 70). In addition, the mountainous and rocky landscape were barriers of communication that encouraged the political fragmentation of the region.
Geographical Impact on Economic Development
The economic development of ancient Greek was too affected by Greek geography. For instance, the mountainous landscape was relatively unfavorable for settlement. The city-states were established near the sea (Adamson 20). In addition, traversing through the rocky and mountainous region was hard and thus hindered inland trade. Since the city-states were easily accessible via the Aegean Sea, maritime trade developed in Greek (Zurbach 960).
Consequently, the Greeks developed many seaports that boosted trade and effectively made the Aegean Sea a vital trade route (Adamson 25). Moreover, proximity to the sea was advantageous to the Greeks economy as the nature of the coastline, and the saltwater encouraged fishing. In addition, the constant supply of seafood and waterfowl and limited arable land discouraged farming (Zurbach 980). Consequently, the people of Greece became skilled fishermen and excellent mariners, which further promoted marine trade.
The geography of an area can influence the development or underdevelopment of a region. For instance, the ancient Greek geography distinguished by its mountainous landscape and proximate to the sea shaped city-states’ politics, economics, and social development. For instance, the mountainous landscape prohibited communication between the various city-states. The city-states thus became extraordinarily isolated and thus developed differentiated social structures and organizations. In addition, the mountainous landscape is credited for promoting the development of city-states that in turn hindered the development of a large empire with a central government despite Greeks having shared culture, language, and beliefs.
In addition, the proximity to the sea favored the development and reliance of naval military power, which is a crucial aspect of politics. Finally, the mountainous landscape and the sea shaped the economic development of ancient Greek city-states. For instance, the proximity to say favored fishing and maritime trade. In addition, the mountainous land meant that arable land was limited, thus discouraging farming and agriculture as Greeks could rely on seafood and waterfowl. The geography of ancient Greek impacted the political, social, and economic development of Greek’s city-state.
Adamson, Jordan. Trade and the Rise of Ancient Greek City-States. 2021. 21 February 2022. <https://ssrn.com/abstract=3917397>.
Desmet, Klaus, Krisztia´n Da´vid Nagy and Esteban Rossi Hansberg. “The Geography of Development.” Journal of Political Economy 126.3 (2018): 903-991.
Sarma, Jonali. “The Greek City States and the Genesis of Political Culture of theWest.” IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science 23.8 (2018): 69-73.
Zurbach, Julien. “The Formation of Greek City-States: Status, Class, and Land Tenure Systems.” Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 64.8 (2013): 957-998.