Sustainability without natural resources?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

How does a country become self sustaining when it has no natural resources?

It doesn’t. Instead of becoming self-sustaining, it becomes integrated into the regional (or even world) economy. It exports labor-intensive manufactures and services and buys raw materials and agricultural commodities (and maybe capital goods) from abroad. After a while, growing incomes begin to expand a base for domestic consumption of manufactures and services…

Examples of this type of development abound, especially in Asia. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore at different times evolved along this path…

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