Human beings are dependent on natural resources to fulfil many of their daily needs. These natural resources, however, are not uniformly distributed across the Earth. This is because natural resources require a favourable environment for forming. For example, coal is usually found in areas where once swampland formed during the greatest coal-forming history, the Carboniferous period. For this reason, it is not unusual for some nations to have a sufficient amount of a particular natural resource, while some have to import what they require from other countries.
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Uneven Resource Distribution
- The population count of a place which has plenty of natural resources is always more than places that have a deficit in resources. As such, North America, Europe and Asia are more populated than South America, Africa, and Australia. Water, soil, climate, vegetation and landscape are important determiners in the matter of population distribution.
- The majority of people often migrate to places that have the resources they require. The Trail of Tears, the Westward Movement, and the Gold Rush are related to the desire for land and mineral resources.
- Economic activities in a region relate to the resources in that region and add wealth to the region. Farming, fishing, ranching, timber processing, oil and gas production, mining, and tourism are some such activities.
- The country of Japan is a good example of a prosperous nation thriving through effective business with other nations despite lacking in natural resources. For example, Japan has very limited natural resources but it is one of the wealthiest in Asia. Sony, Nintendo, Canon, Toyota, Honda, Sharp, Sanyo, Nissan are some successful Japanese corporations.
Key Natural Resources of the World
Australia is a place with adequate supplies of natural resources, both minerals and land. These resources include mineral resources, such as copper, gold and diamonds, energy resources, such as coal, oil, and uranium, and land resources that are used for farming and logging. These resources help to make Australia economically stronger. The country also exports its surplus coal to countries like Japan and imports oil to meet the demands of consumption.
Australia is a major producer of minerals. The most important mineral resources in Australia are bauxite, gold and iron ore. Other mineral deposits in Australia include copper, lead, zinc, diamonds and mineral sands. A majority of Australia’s minerals are excavated in Western Australia and Queensland. Australia is also rich in uranium, which is used to produce nuclear power and is supplied at the global level.
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Abundant coal is found in the eastern part of the country in the Sydney and Bowen basins. Coal found is mostly exported to Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Western Europe or used for electricity within Australia.
Natural gas reserves in Australia are mostly found in Western Australia and Central Australia. Natural gas is used to heat homes and power certain vehicles. Gas pipelines have been built to transport natural gas to cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Some of this natural gas is exported from where it is collected. Natural gas collected in Western Australia is exported directly to Japan in liquid form.
Australian soil is used to grow food in the form of crops and to produce food for raising livestock, such as cattle. Wood from the forests is used for building and making paper.
Africa is rich in natural resources like diamonds, gold, salt, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans and also has been endowed with rich lush forests providing ample wood and tropical fruits.
The continent of North America has a treasure of natural resources like rich mineral deposits, extensive lush forests and has the best fertile soils of the land. It is because of the existence of rich natural resources that the continent has emerged as one of the most economically developed regions of the world.
Mining: Asia is a paradise of rich minerals and mineral fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas. The continent houses the highest producers of coal—China and Russia (Siberia), followed by the countries of India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Additionally, the Arab countries of Southwest Asia are the biggest producers of petroleum in the world. The petroleum mines exist in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq. Natural gas mines are found in Siberia, the country that supplies the highest.
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The major producers of iron ore are in Asia- the countries of China, Siberia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, and North Korea. Asia also has the major producers of manganese ore in India and China, chromite in Kazakhstan and nickel in Indonesia, Siberia, China, and the Philippines. Additionally, one will also find rich gold deposits in China and Siberia, countries that are also the highest producers of gold. Also, Asia produces more than half of the total graphite output of the world.
Forestry and Fishing
South America has an abundance of forests, primarily the Amazon rainforest. The forests contain a rich treasure of tree species like mahogany and rosewood. Marine fisheries are also one of the significant economic activities in South America, mostly on the Pacific coast.
South America constitutes around one-fifth of the total iron ore reserves of the world. Also, more than a quarter of the total copper reserves of the world exist in South America, especially in Peru and Chile. The countries of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia are rich producers of tin.
Geographical Distribution of Natural Resources
Types of minerals found unevenly distributed worldwide are of two types:
- Ferrous (containing iron): Iron ore, manganese, nickel, cobalt.
- Non-ferrous: Copper, lead, tin, bauxite.
- Precious: Gold, silver, platinum.
Non-metallic: Mica, salt, potash, sulphur, granite, limestone, marble, sandstone.
Energy Minerals: Coal, petroleum and natural gas
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Oil and Natural Gas Deposits:
- The Strategic Ellipse that stretches from the Middle East to the north of West Siberia is reported to have 70% of the total reserves of oil and natural gas in the world.
- The Middle East has about 41% and Africa has 32% and the CIS countries have 8%.
- In the USA, ore is mined in the Red mountains and the Birmingham Valley. The places of northern New Jersey, the states of Utah, Nevada and California also have rich deposits of iron core.
- In Canada, there are three main areas where iron core is mined- Ontario, Quebec and New Found land.
- In Europe, Germany, France, Sweden and the UK are large producers of iron ore. Ukraine stands at the sixth position in the world for producing iron ore. Ukraine produced 4.32% of the total world production in 2006. Iron ore reserves are also found in Krivoi Rog, Zaporozhe, Zdanow, Lipetsk and Kerch. Krivoy Rog has estimated reserves of more than 200 million tons and possesses the best iron ore, having 68.5 per cent metallic percentage and also contributes 75% of the production of Ukraine.
- South Africa is also a major iron ore producing country on the African continent and ranks 8th in the world iron ore production. Transvaal has high grade ore with 60-65% iron content and is the most important iron ore-producing centre. The total reserves have been estimated at 10 billion tons in South Africa. The average annual production in South Africa is 4 million metric tons.
Distribution of key natural resources in South Asia
The countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka make up the most geographically populous region in South Asia.
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- The southwest zone of Asia is a dry, hot region that stretches from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia through Pakistan, Iran into the Arabian Peninsula. This zone has very few areas with enough moisture and precipitation to produce crops. Grains, such as barley and corn, are the principal irrigated crops of some countries. Dates, figs, apricots, olives, onions, grapes, and cherries are the most important of these fruit and vegetable crops.
- The southeast zone is greatly affected by the summer monsoon season. During this season, a low-pressure system south of the Himalayas attracts moisture-laden winds from the Indian Ocean. Consequently, most areas receive plenty of rainfall.
- Rice is one of Asia’s most important agricultural commodities and a major food staple of the entire continent.
- Southeast Asia is also a major producer of tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, and pineapple. India is the world’s largest mango-producing nation, whereas Thailand and the Philippines are the region’s major producers of pineapple.
Forestry and Fishing
- Forestry is an important but threatened industry in a select group of Asian countries. China, Indonesia and Malaysia make up more than half of the forested land in Asia. China is a major exporter of wood products, ranking first in wood-based panel production, paper, and wood furniture. Both Indonesia and Malaysia are top producers of tropical timber. Tropical woods such as teak are primarily used in high-quality furniture and flooring.
- During the past 10 years, Asia has increased its forest cover by 30 million hectares to create forest plantations where trees can be intensively managed for higher-yield production.
- The timber industry estimates that Asia will produce roughly 45 percent of wood from forest plantations by 2020. These plantations will become increasingly important as natural forest resources continue to be depleted at a very fast pace.
- Asia represents the most important region for fisheries and aquaculture production in the world. Aquaculture is the rearing of fish and other aquatic animals in controlled environments. Six of the top 10 world producers of fish are found in Asia: China, Indonesia, Japan, India, the Philippines, and Myanmar (Burma). Seafood is extremely important to the lifestyle of many Asian people. A recent study states that China and Japan are the world’s leading consumers of seafood.
Mining and Drilling
- China is the world’s largest producer of aluminium, gold, tin, and coal. India is also a major producer of aluminium and iron ore, along with other minerals such as barite, chromium, and manganese. Russia is a major producer of coal, tungsten, diamonds, iron, and steel. Indonesia is a major producer of coal, gold, copper, and tin.
- Countries on the Arabian Peninsula have the world’s largest deposits of oil and natural gas. The oil found throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East is of the highest quality. It is in high demand throughout the developed world.
- In 2010, Saudi Arabia was the world’s largest manufacturer of petroleum liquids. The economy of Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil exports. Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates accounted for roughly 57% of global liquid fuel production in 2010.
- The Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat, India, is the world’s largest oil refinery.
- Russia has oil reserves in Siberia, and massive natural gas reserves throughout the Arctic. Russia is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe.
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- China’s Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River is the world’s largest hydroelectric power station. The massive project, however, has had a devastating effect on the human and natural environment.
- South Asia has been richly gifted with plenteous natural resources and ecological and biological diversity. The Southeast Asian states today are rich in natural resources and are major world producers of rubber, tin, copra, palm oil, petroleum and timber.
- The governments of South Asian nations recognised several areas for growth, including nature-based tourism, mining, ecosystems, biodiversity and agriculture. It will concurrently help diversify the economy and decrease poverty. Population growth and lack of proper economic development can be tackled only through optimum use of resources.
Distribution of key natural resources in the Indian subcontinent
India is gifted with rich natural resources like fertile soil, forests, minerals and water. The land areas of India include regions receiving high rainfall from dry deserts, a vast coastline to alpine regions. These resources are unevenly distributed. The Indian continent covers a multitude of biotic and abiotic resources. India is one of the richest countries in terms of abundance of natural resources.
India has a rapid population growth, which means there is over consumption of resources. This leads to uncontrolled logging or overfishing and many valuable natural resources are rapidly being exhausted. India also has huge watered fertile lands. In the sedimentary soil of the Northern Great Plains of the Sutlej-Ganga plains and Brahmaputra Valley, crops like wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane, jute, cotton, rapeseed, mustard, sesame, linseed are grown in plentiful. India also has a variety of natural vegetation as the country has a varied relief and climate.
|Types of Soils||States where found||Rich in||Lacks in||Crops Grown|
|Alluvial||Mainly found in the plains of Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand etc||Potash and Lime||Nitrogen and Phosphorous||A large variety of rabi and kharif crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, jute etc.|
|Black (Regur Soil)||Deccan plateau- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Valleys of Krishna and Godavari.||Lime, Iron, Magnesia and Alumina, Potash||Phosphorous, Nitrogen and organic matter||Cotton, sugarcane, jowar, tobacco, wheat, rice etc.|
|Red||The eastern and southern parts of the Deccan plateau, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and southern parts of the middle Ganga plain.||Iron and Potash||Nitrogen, Phosphorous and humus.||Wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and pulses|
|Laterite||Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Orissa hills.||Iron oxide and potash||Organic matter, Nitrogen, Phosphate and Calcium||Cashew nuts, tea, coffee, rubber|
|Arid and Desert||Western Rajasthan, northern Gujarat and southern Punjab||Soluble salts, phosphate||Humus, Nitrogen||Only drought resistant and salt tolerant crops such as barley, rape, cotton, millets, maize and pulses.|
|Saline and Alkaline||Western Rajasthan, northern Gujarat and southern Punjab||Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium||Nitrogen and Calcium||Unfit for agriculture|
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Preserving the world’s natural resources is crucial, and more so at this point when resources are fast depleting. If the world needs future generations to enjoy a flourishing environment and enjoy natural resources, the world must make stringent plans and follow them to the dot!