This course examines perhaps the most fundamental question in economics and economic history: why are some places rich while others remain poor? It is a big, complex and controversial question that escapes easy answers. The aim of these lectures is not to push you to adopt any particular view. Rather, I hope to walk you through the most influential theories and to discuss some innovative empirical work that has tested and quantified these models and hypothesis. In order to do this, I will draw from narrative history, formal economic models and various strands of empirical economics. I will also discuss some work that has applied the lessons from history to contemporary contexts.