The atlases represent the longest continuing publication of the World Bank. Data presented in an atlas help us to understand the geographic relationships among countries and their economic and social development. In designing the atlas, we have illustrated these relationships with maps, charts, tables, and photos. Geography is not destiny, but geography strongly influences the ways economies can and do develop. Geography encourages exchange and human interaction. It also creates barriers and nourishes disputes and conflicts. Neighboring economies may share common resources and interests, but economies at great distance may also be linked by historical ties of settlement and migration that still influence political alliances and economic exchange.