In this short and sweet paper, Guy Michaels uses maps plotting French and British towns to make the case that French cities are not as strategically located as British cities, which have been moved more recently (middle ages being recent for Europe) to better take advantage of water transportation technology, while more French cities are landlocked remnants of Roman cities (although unfortunately the article does make an argument as to why) and therefore have been located in inferior places for centuries, costing who knows how much lost opportunity cost for France. The conclusion singles out Africa as a continent that could benefit from this kind of study of misplaced cities, stating that “parts of Africa, including some of its cities, are hampered by poor access to the world’s markets due to their landlocked position and poor land-transport infrastructure.” As the continent urbanizes and governments decide what cities to invest scare resources in, comparative studies of not only cities themselves but their relative spatial orientation may be useful. Of course this assumes that it won’t be Britain, France, (or China) benefitting from these more economically efficiently located African cities, but will be the cities and African countries themselves.


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