Viewpoint: the Political Burden of Sparseland Development: Some International Consistencies

  • Richard Lonsdale University of Nebraska
Keywords: Sparselands, Resource Exploitation, Settlement Instability, Public Services, Government Action


Nations with extensive areas of lightly populated territory or "sparselands" often devote substantial attention and capital to their fuller development and support. An examination of the record in several European-explored and settled sparselands suggests that such regions tend to become seen as financial and therefore political burdens for nations possessing them, despite the resources extracted from them. An explanation is seen in the historic pattern of resource exploitation and attendant settlement instability, ill-conceived strategies for promoting new and more permanent settlement, and growing demands within sparselands for improved public services, a matter requiring government action and subsidization.


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