The goal of this article is twofold. It examines how Friedrich List’s interpretation of the economic dynamics of “tropical” countries (countries located in tropical climates) as nonindustrial exporters of primary commodities fits in his analytical framework and accords with his emphasis on the explanatory value of environmental factors and on the role of colonialism in the development of “temperate” countries (countries located in temperate climates). This is followed by a selective investigation of the reception of List’s ideas in some Latin American countries (particularly Brazil) between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, as an attempt to establish whether List’s readers in those countries took any notice of his point that the infant-industry argument did not apply to tropical areas and that such economies should not embark on an industrialization process.

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