While the exact speed of a hyper-drive is still a debate, most fans agree that it'll take you across the galaxy in days at most. Given this, why are the outer-rim worlds still so intensely impoverished backwaters complete with scum and villainy? It would be like claiming that San-Francisco is simply too far away from Washington to govern effectively since it would take ages to reach it by car or train. I mean Greece is not a frontier land to the British by any stretch of the imagination, so why should Endor be to Coruscant?

This problem gets even worse when you consider that the Star Wars universe has instantaneous messaging across any distance.

I am of course aware that the "real reason" its that George Lucas wanted to use backwater-worlds as they'd be cheap enough for filming and then hyper-drive's fast speed was set, so I am looking for an in-universe explanation (presumably from legends as I doubt there is one in canon).

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    It's not the distance that's the killer, it's the lack of hyperspace routes.
    – Valorum
    Aug 22, 2018 at 17:42
  • 2
    Yeah, but circuitously.
    – Valorum
    Aug 22, 2018 at 17:46
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    There are plenty of tiny, backwater towns in the world that are on major highways and even have their own airport. Just because the trip is easy doesn't mean it's worth it.
    – Giter
    Aug 22, 2018 at 18:04
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    The short answer is that you should probably read the pre-amble for the 'Star Wars: Essential Atlas'. It contains lots of information (some canon, some less so) about the composition of the Rim territories and why they're less civilised and less traveled than those closer to the Core. It boils down to a mixture of geopolitical composition, distance from the Core, lack of accessible hyperspace routes, dangerous pirates, gangster clans controlling routes, etc etc
    – Valorum
    Aug 22, 2018 at 18:18
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    It's quite a long one to answer and there's no clear and obvious single answer other than that it's far away, poorly traveled and lawless. We actually see the results when the Empire creates a new (and well-mapped) hyperspace route to Lothal and it extends its influence.
    – Valorum
    Aug 22, 2018 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


It's reasonable to assume that hyperdrives are relatively expensive.

It may have been possible to travel to the Outer Rim in a matter of days, but only if you could afford a ship and a hyperdrive generator.

While Qui-gon Jinn is trying to buy a hyperdrive generator on Tatooine, Watto says:

A T-14 hyperdrive generator. Thee in luck. I'm the only one hereabouts who has one. But thee might as well buy a new ship. It would be cheaper, I think.

Beyond the expense, there's a question of motivation. The Outer Rim was not only distant, but lacking in resources. Other than people who were trying to avoid the Republic (e.g. the Hutts), very few people had reason to travel to the Outer Rim.

Today's Earth serves as a great analogy. Consider a place like Antarctica. With today's plane technology, anyone could get to Antarctica within 24 hours. But they don't. Not because it's technologically difficult, but because it's not worth the expense.

  • Good answer, put something in about the fact hyperspace routes aren't straight lines and the outer rim, like the inner core can be hard to plot a route through and you'll have a damn near great answer Aug 23, 2018 at 12:22

Being accessible via trade routes does not equal flourishing societies

A good real-world example is Somalia. It lies directly next to one of the most important trade routes on earth, but still everyone forgoes it because it is de facto ruled by warlord clans and pirate gangs. It is a failed state (more or less).

Tatooine (the major example for a backwards-outer rim world) is very similar in this regard. It is ruled by the Hutts, who are basically the space-mafia. This discourages investment or the settlement of industries on the planet which leaves it poor and underdeveloped.

But wait, there's more

Not only is Tatooine remote and lawless, it is also barren, economically uninteresting and sparsely settled. There's literally nothing going on on Tatooine. The major industries are moisture farming (for the sake of survival) and scrap trading (the only resource other than sand). In the past there was ore mining but that dried out pretty fast. Being remote and outside of the reach (or sphere of interest) of the central galactic government (whichever is presently in power) is basically the only reason why the planet is settled (by scum and villains) at all (other than the native population of Jawas and Tusken raiders of course).

On the other hand

Being remote does not doom a planet to poverty and backwardness. Kamino is even farther away from the galactic core than the outer rim worlds (located in the Wild Space region), but is still technologically advanced and civilized.

  • Same concept as New Zealand being out by itself does not make it a lawless undeveloped society. It’s well developed and quite popular to live in Nov 26, 2020 at 15:59

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