The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Sustainable Land Tenure and Land Registration in Developing Countries

Mika-Petteri Törhönen

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Surveying for public examination and debate in Auditorium M1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 6th of June, 2003, at 12 o'clock noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-6491-9)   [174 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-6525-7)


The aim of this dissertation was to define a framework of key issues behind sustainable land tenure and land registration in developing countries. The research targeted a selection of poor countries and a rich country with a poor past, and the conclusions were drawn in the developing country context.

The basic framework of land tenure and land registration was compiled from a literature study, and the three developing country cases were targets of literature studies, field researches, analyses and piloting. The case of Finland, which was used for historical comparison between the developing countries' present and industrialised countries' past, was the target of a literature review and analysis. The case studies were integrated, and analysed within the compiled framework. The result is an interpretation of the framework of developing country land tenure and land registration with key issues and their relative impacts on a) the feasibility of land administration and b) sustainable development.

This dissertation shows the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of land administration, land tenure and land registration development in this context. The main conclusions are firstly that workable land administration is built upon good governance, appropriate resources, cultural sensitivity, equity, quality and commitment, and secondly that sustainable development is best promoted by secure, flexible, all-inclusive land tenure structures.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 4 publications:

  1. Törhönen M.-P., 1998. A thousand and one nights of land tenure; The past, present and future of land tenure in Zanzibar. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Our Common Estate -Series. London, 1998, 99 pages. © 1998 The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. By permission.
  2. Törhönen M.-P. and Goodwin D. P., 1998. Would a Registry Map Hang Comfortably in a Round, Mud Hut? A Register of Title for Zimbabwe's Communal Areas: Philosophical and Technical Considerations. The Australian Surveyor 43, No. 2, pages 96-108. © 1998 The Institution of Surveyors, Australia. By permission.
  3. Törhönen M.-P., 2001. Developing land administration in Cambodia. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 25, No. 4-5, pages 407-428. Special Edition 'Cadastral Systems', PII: S0198-9715(00)00049-1. © 2001 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  4. Törhönen M.-P., 2003. Sustainable land tenure and land registration in developing countries, including a historical comparison with an industrialised country. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, approved for publication. Third Special Edition 'Cadastral Systems'. © 2003 by author and © 2003 Elsevier Science. By permission.

Keywords: developing countries, sustainable development, land tenure, land registration, land administration, cadastre, land policy, land reform, customary land tenure

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© 2003 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26