ABSTRACT

For the most part the countries of eastern Europe and the periphery contrasted sharply with those of the industrial west that were discussed in Chapter 3. They had low incomes, and were predominantly agrarian, with poor infrastructure facilities. Rates of illiteracy were high and population growth often rapid. As a working concept, we may de ne the impoverished peripherals as those countries that in the early twentieth century still had around one-half or more of their populations directly dependent on agriculture for a livelihood and with per capita incomes of 50 per cent or less of the advanced nations of western Europe. On this basis, therefore, we encompass much of eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria), Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey in southern Europe, along with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and ending up with Albania. Some idea of the low level of development in most of the peripheral countries can be gleaned from the selection of indicators in Table 4.1. Most of these countries can be classed as peripheral in a geographic as well as an economic sense. The main exceptions were the four Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which though geographically peripheral were certainly not peripheral in economic terms. In fact, these four countries had a robust economic performance in the inter-war period in contrast to the chequered economic record of many other countries along the periphery.