8 Things That Make A Country Weak

There are 195 countries in the world. However, not all countries are equal in strength. Some are major world powers, like the US, China, India, or Russia. Others are weaker countries. Less powerful nations often struggle to defend their interests, protect their borders, provide good lives for their people, and build strong international relations. But what makes a country weak? Well, we’ve broken down some of the key factors…

1. Having A Small Armed Force

A first factor that makes a country weak is having a small army.

Strong countries have large, well equipped, and well-trained armed forces. This allows them to defend their territory, as well as project their power overseas. Weak countries almost always have small militaries that are poorly funded, equipped and trained.

Having a small military makes a country weak because it reduces its ability to defend itself. Without an army, navy, and air force strong enough to protect a nation, that nation is at risk of being invaded, attacked, or interfered with by other more powerful countries.

The armed forces of a country are the primarily means by which it defends itself. Weak countries have poor quality militaries, and this not only means other countries can attack them and take their territory, but also means internal rebellions are more likely. Weak countries with limited military power struggle to prevent armed groups within their borders from forming and fighting against the state.

2. Being A Geographically Small Country

A second thing that makes a country weak is being geographically small.

Not all countries that are small are weak. However, no tiny nation is a seriously powerful global player. There are also many small countries that are especially weak. There are several key reasons why being geographically smaller makes a country less strong.

Being a small country means a nation has less resources at its disposal. It also means it has a smaller economy, reduced armed forces, less people, and it is harder for it to build international relations. Geographically smaller countries are also harder to defend and easier to attack and conquer – this adds to their weakness.

As we said, not every small country is weak – Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates are all examples of very small countries have large global reaches. However, all small countries, these included, are weaker than larger nations due to their small geographical size.

3. Having A Small Population

A third thing that makes a country weak is having a small population.

Countries with less people are generally weaker. There are many reasons for this. Having a smaller population means a nation has people it can draft into its military. It also means there are fewer people to start profitable businesses or be productive workers – meaning overall the economy is smaller. Countries with small populations are also weaker because it is easier for other nations with more people to conquer them.

Nations that have extremely small populations are often less powerful because they struggle to have a global reach. International diplomacy, trade, soft power and promoting your culture abroad are all harder for a nation with less people. Factors such as these are also key to making a nation powerful.

Like with being geographically small – not all countries with small populations are weak. However, countries with smaller populations are never as powerful as larger nations with more people. This, by contrast, makes them weaker countries.

4. Having A Weak Government

Another thing that makes a country less powerful is having a weak government.

The strength of a nation’s government is key to its power. Having a weak government limits how strong a country can be. Governments not only pass laws for a country, but also deliver public services, fund the police and armed forces, and represent the country abroad. If a nation has a weak government, it is almost impossible for that country to become powerful.

There are many issues a country faces if it has poor governance. For example, poor governance means the state often fails to adequately collect revenue. This, in turn, means the state lacks funds and therefore is unable to extend it’s reach across a nation. An absent state is a key factor that destabilises many countries, as it can create a void where non-state armed groups can flourish.

A major factor that makes countries weak is poor governance.

5. Being A Small Economy

A further key factor that makes a country weak is having a small economy.

The size a nation’s economy is the total value of the goods and services that the country outputs. Essentially, measuring the size of a country’s economy shows how rich it is. It also shows how productive people in that country are. Nations with small economies are weak because they lack the financial and material resources needed to compete with richer nations. Being poorer also makes it easier for other countries to interfere in their affairs or exert dominance over them.

As well as have a small economy, having a low per capita income is also one thing that makes a country weak. A nation’s per capita income is the average amount each person in that country makes. Essentially, in countries with lower per capita incomes each person is poorer. There are many reasons why having a poor population makes a country weak, including a higher risk of exploitation by richer and more powerful nations, reduced ability for the state to raise revenue and deliver services and a reduced capacity to whether crises.

6. Having Bad Infrastructure

One factor that makes a country weak is having poor quality infrastructure.

A nations infrastructure is the roads, railways, airports, utilities, and tele-communication networks that the county has been able to build. Infrastructure is vital for a country because it allows for people, goods, and information to be moved throughout the nation’s territory. Infrastructure is also key in importing goods from abroad and being able to trade what a nation produces with other countries whilst remaining competitive.

Having bad infrastructure causes a country to be weak because it makes it harder for people and businesses to function efficiently. If people, goods, and information are hard to move around a nation’s territory, then people and businesses must pay more money and spend more time to get where they require. Countries with bad infrastructure also often fail to deliver public services across the country, which weakens the position of the state.

Infrastructure is vital to a nation’s success. Having bad infrastructure is a key reason why some countries are weak.

7. Having A Divided Population

An important thing that weakens many countries is having a divided population.

Strong countries are united. Their people work together to be economically productive citizens whilst ensuring social cohesion and participating in civic affairs. People in powerful countries often work towards the greater good of their nation and focus less on their individual groups. Divisions within a country limits all of these factors, and results in a nation being weaker.

All nations have differences among their people. Religion, ethnicity, cultural, language and politics are all things that put people in different groups. However, in weak countries these differences form deep and long-lasting divisions. This can cause a lack of civic engagement, political paralysis, and a reduction in trust between people and cooperation among the citizens of a nation. In extreme cases divisions can cause conflict and the break-up a country.

Having a divided population is one of main factors that makes a country weak.

8. Having Bad Geography

A final thing that makes a country weak is having bad geography.

A nations geography is often key to its success. Having flat arable land, navigable rivers, and protective mountains or valleys all help make a nation cohesive and easy to defend. Coastal nations historical have also been more powerful than landlocked ones.

Many weak countries lack the geography needed to become a strong and powerful country. Bad geography can be hard to overcome and can exacerbate other key factors that make a country weak, such as internal divisions, poor economic performance, or bad infrastructure.

Not all countries with poor geography are weak, but stronger countries with unfavourable geographical features have had to expand their territory or dominate their neighbours in order to compensate for their geography – this adds to their weaknesses.

Geography can be a crucial factor in how weak or strong a country is. Nations with bad geography often struggle to overcome its obstacles and therefore remain weak.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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