Europe’s vital axis
Economies in space and time : economic geographies of development and
underdevelopment and historical geographies of modernization
by Michael Dunford
1 Introduction : economic disparities and pathways to modernization and development
Today the most developed parts of Europe are centred on a core of major international cities and advanced city regions, most of which lie along a vital axis which extends from Greater London through Benelux and the Rhinelands in the western half of Germany to Northern Italy. Although there have been fundamental changes in the characteristics of the places that comprise this axis, the concentration of development in this part of Europe dates back at least to the medieval world, when Flanders and northern Italy were the major foci of European industry and commerce. In the early modern era this axis was reinforced and its centre of gravity moved northwards as a result of the growth of the historical capitals of Europe’s major colonial powers (Amsterdam, London and Paris), while in the 19th and 20th centuries wealth accumulated as a result of Europe’s industrialization contributed further to the development of the axis itself and its north-western extension in Europe’s first industrial nation.
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