This paper explores main issues, definitions and terms that are found in development geography as a field in contemporary human geography. Since development geography plays an important role in shaping the space in Africa and the world. This paper will focus on the development theory on how people can achieve development to improve their living standards in economic perspectives of different countries and the role aid agencies play in developing countries and how space is being used. Development is always seen as something shallow, sometimes misleading impression. In this paper theories and contrasting views of what development is, are used to make it necessary to explain main issues and terms that are found within the field. This can enable a clear understanding of different views and levels of development in the 20th century. This paper is going to address issues and views concerning development, indicators of development, views from neo-liberal, dependency, grassroots and western are taken into account. These views can clearly explain several arguments that are put forward to explain what development is, for example development is becoming modern, having a high gross national product and income, happiness and the general happiness and the general wellbeing of the whole society and many more. For the sake of this essay these afore mentioned views, main terms and issues are to be addressed.


Development is progressing economically, socially, politically and also having a high quality of life. According to the development theory, development is the state of becoming a modernized following what the Northern countries have done. To understand what country have reached a recognized development the countries are assessed in economic terms if development is being met the country shows transition from subsistence farming to commercial like America and Britain (Knox, Sallie and Mariston,2004:67: Cloke, 2001:179)


In addition to that, Potter & Robert (2008:456) argued that development can be assessed by considering traditional society if transition is being triggered by external influence, interests or market that country has reached development. Also it is necessary to consider development in the manufacturing sector if manufacturing exceeds 10% of national income. Also if there is high commercial exploitation of agriculture and extractive industry and more installation of physical infrastructure and emergence of social and political elite other than kingdoms is a clear indication that development has been met. Roan (2009:236) also argued that if in country there is revolution and democratic governance and also mass consumption of comparative advantages in international trade development has been met.

In addition to that, to support the above arguments on development theory the World Bank (2009) classified development as having a country with high Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is an estimated value of foodstuffs and commodities that are produced by a country to particular year. This done by dividing statistics to the number of total population to standardize countries with different sizes, this can give an indicator GDP which is a good yardstick of development. Also this GDP includes the value of income from abroad, flows of profit and losses from overseas investment which shows the purchasing power parity (PPP) which measures how much of common market basket of goods and services each currency purchase locally including commodities which are not traded internationally. According to this variable in development theory figures produces low GDP in wealth countries in which it can be said development has been met and high GDP figures in poorer countries compared with market-based exchange rates. This can be explained by the table below which shows country standings in development.

Human Poverty Index Rank (HPI) Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita (PPP US$)2009 Human Development Index Value (HDI)

1 United states 30 000 & above 1.002


3 Switzerland 23 000 & above 0.990

23 Mexico 10 000 & above 0.915

29 South Korea 8 000 & above 0.807

76 Indonesia 3 500 0.612


81 Indonesia Less than 3 000 0.600

151 Zimbabwe Less than 2 500 0.513

Source: World Bank (2009)

In contrast Cloke (2007) argued that all the perspectives concerning development are Eurocentric but development can be explained in a structural view. This answer the question that is it that we should follow northern based models of development rather than follow the reality of what leads to development from South and Asian stance. Willies (2009:56) argued that using quotas and embargoes are the keys to development since it protects mother industries which upgrade standard of living and contribute to wellbeing of the general society.


In contrast to that basing on dependency theory Thorn and Homby (2000) argued that development is not to adopt structuralism policies which were creating underdevelopment to South American countries like Mexico. He argued that it is necessary to withdraw from the global economic system to be completely being sovereign like what Iraq has done. This can give countries greater development since it does not cause any country to rely on the back of the other which they can graze in their own brow, hence the general life will be improved. However these policies from the dependency theories experienced success but this can cause problems with their long term viability.

In addition to that, Richard (2005:152) argued that development can be seen as less government intervention in the economy. In sectors of production and service provision intervention should be reduced so that private and mixed economy can lead to a considerable development. This will reduce the government expenditure but high income since there will be more taxation.

In contrast to that, Willies (2009:28) argued that utopianism is the key to development. Communities should be empowered enabling them to help themselves if people are empowered so that they can stand in their own. For example in relation to grassroots development N.G.O.s create awareness to people rights, giving them machinery for farming so that everyone can stand in his/her own, also the Zimbabwean government empowered its people so that everyone can live a better life.

Moreover, Cloke et al (2002) argued that concerning development in contemporary human geography globalization has much to say. Development can be achieved by a wide world interconnection of politics, economics and social ideas this can lead to development. This can enable development since it transfers ideas from those who have already achieved development this can accelerate development. Also foreign direct investment increases competition among local producers, forcing them to improve their performance. At the same time, knowledge of new business practices and production technology spreads through the regional economy as regional manufactures becomes suppliers to the enterprises funded through foreign investment and as personnel move from one firm to another. The overall effect is for higher levels of productivity all around hence this is development (Knox et al, 2003:276)


Robert and Potter (2008) argued that in contemporary human geography, development can be sustainable development which is the development which meets the needs for the present whilst not compromising the need for future generation. In development geography geographers are concerned about recycling, using clean fuels and going green which is the development which does not compromise the needs for future.

In addition to that, societies, regions and nations can be classified as they have meet development if they are in a position to manufacture their goods and services without harming the general environment. For example the World Bank (2009) classified countries that have reached development concerning the fact that does manufacturing and the general life in those countries is it green. Since most of the European countries uses more of hydro-power and recycling of plastics and tins are being classified that development has been met whilst most countries in Africa and Asia are classified as underdeveloped as shown by the table below.

Continent Green level Level of Development

America Dark green developed


Western Europe Light green developing

Northern Europe Dark green developed

Asia Not yet- light green Developing- underdeveloped

Africa Not yet- light green Developing- underdeveloped

Source: Money (2009)

In contrast to globalization as development, Craig (2009:189) argued that concerning most theories on what development is in contemporary human geography on could question that is that by neo-liberalization, modernization structuralism and having democratic governments is that developments whilst people are not happy. In argument to support this Beyon and Dunkerly (2000) argued that since it is widely accepted that civilization is the highest level of development it leads to happiness to the whole society that is development rather than causing chaos and upheavals like what America and its allies are doing. Happiness is the real development like what Nepal and Brazil are today.

Finally, more scholars in contemporary human geography question that grassroots approach to development as does that development, or is just creating more dependent. After a couple of years if NGOs vacate the area people will not be able to help themselves since they just spoon feed this is not an approach to development (Witt, 2001)

In a concluding remark, from the above discussion one can note that there is an endless debate on main issues of contemporary geography. Also it can be noted that theories of development has been explain from the perspectives of neo-liberal, grassroots, modernization, sustainable and structural approaches to development has explained. One can also note that views from theories were the one explain not to explain theory by theory which provides clear issues on development. Finally clear on what development is can also be noted within the discussion.


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