Here is an interesting article by Virginia Postrel titled Resilience vs. Anticipation from Reason On-line, August 25, 1997. The whole article is a nice admixture of socio-geography, business strategy, macro-economics and technology history.
The only real relevance here is that I found it interesting and it provides some well-argued substance to a theme that the writer Lawrence Durrell used to speculate on, i.e. the influence of an environment on the character of a people.
Lawrence Durrell is most famous for his Alexandria Quartet, (constituting Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea) which is generally admired by many literary critics and has always seemed popular among older Young Adult readers. For my money, though, in my teenage years, I far more enjoyed his travel writing, especially Prospero's Cell, Reflections on a Marine Venus, Bitter Lemons, and Sicilian Carousel among others. Sadly all are out of print but some are represented in an anthology the Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader. Also not to be overlookoed is the humorous gem Antrobus Complete and the rather unclassifiable Pope Joan, all grist for the YA mill.