This paper develops a simple model to investigate how resource-driven economic booms shape the equilibrium political institutions of resource-rich societies and influence the likelihood of experiencing civil war. In our model a strong government apparatus favors property rights protection but also makes the state more powerful and hence may induce predatory autocratic regimes over democracy. We characterize the parameter space of each political outcome in terms of the type of the available natural resources. Economic booms based on resources that are privately exploited empower the citizens and tend to ease democratic transitions. In contrast, booms based on resources exploited by the state tend to favor more dictatorial regimes. Finally, economic booms based on resources that can be exploited either by the state or by private citizens incite preemptive actions by both parties that may result in civil war. We discuss the predictions of the model using historical and contemporary examples.