This paper investigates whether the geographic characteristics of a country can explain cross‐country variations in income levels through their ability to explain cross‐country variations in cultural traits that enhance economic development. In other words, this paper attempts to determine whether the geographic endowment can serve as an instrument in examining the effect of culture on economic development. The paper conducts two‐stage least‐squares regressions. The second stage is a regression of the logarithm of real gross domestic product per capita on each of the cultural attributes that are considered in this study. In the first stage, the geographic factors that statistically explain a cultural aspect are used as instrumental variables. The results of the empirical estimation show that the cultural variables, instrumented by the geographic variables, explain cross‐country variations in economic development.