Example: I “needed” an inversion table after trying one out in one of those “back” stores. I felt my spine ease into alignment and it was wonderful. I went home and researched a popular brand and was thinking about hitting the PayPal button when I suddenly took MMM’s advise and punched myself in the face several times. I then clicked on Craigslist and found of the same super-deluxe model for $125. The ad said it was brand new. I called and asked if the price was firm. It was negotiable. I went to the sellers home and she hit the garage button to reveal a floor to ceiling warehouse of a garage filled with things she and her husband had bought but apparently never used. The inversion table was there with the manufacturer tags still on it. It was indeed new. I walked away with it for $80, a full $500 less than the one I punched myself in the face over. I use that inversion table every night. If I over get rid of it, I’m sure I can sell it at a profit.
Thus, geographical latitude acting independently of institutions is an important geographic factor affecting power, prosperity, and poverty. The other important geographic factor is whether an area is accessible to ocean-going ships because it lies either on the sea coast or on a navigable river. It costs roughly seven times more to ship a ton of cargo by land than by sea. That puts landlocked countries at an economic disadvantage, and helps explain why landlocked Bolivia and semilandlocked Paraguay are the poorest countries of South America. It also helps explain why Africa, with no river navigable to the sea for hundreds of miles except the Nile, and with fifteen landlocked nations, is the poorest continent. Eleven of those fifteen landlocked African nations have average incomes of $600 or less; only two countries outside Africa (Afghanistan and Nepal, both also landlocked) are as poor.