Third World Countries Definition Criteria and Countries

Definition of Third World Countries

A Third World country is a term that was originally used to describe countries that were not aligned with either the capitalist First World or the communist Second World during the Cold War. Today, the term is more commonly used to refer to countries that are economically and socially disadvantaged.

Economic Factors:

One of the main characteristics of Third World countries is their low level of economic development. These countries often have a high poverty rate, limited access to education and healthcare, and a lack of infrastructure. They also tend to have a large informal economy and rely heavily on agriculture.

Social Factors:

Third World countries often face social challenges such as high rates of illiteracy, inadequate housing, and limited access to clean water and sanitation. They may also have high rates of unemployment and underemployment, leading to widespread poverty and inequality.

Political Factors:

Political instability and corruption are common issues in Third World countries. These countries may have weak institutions, lack of transparency, and limited political freedoms. This can hinder economic development and exacerbate social problems.

It is important to note that the term “Third World” is considered outdated and politically incorrect by some, as it implies a hierarchical division of countries based on their level of development. However, it is still widely used to describe countries that face significant economic and social challenges.

Criteria for Identifying Third World Countries

Identifying third world countries is a complex task that requires consideration of various economic, social, and political factors. While there is no universally accepted definition, several criteria can be used to determine whether a country falls into this category.

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita: One of the key indicators used to identify third world countries is their low GDP per capita. Generally, countries with a GDP per capita below a certain threshold are considered to be economically disadvantaged.
  2. Human Development Index (HDI): The HDI is a measure of a country’s overall development, taking into account factors such as life expectancy, education, and income. Third world countries often have low HDI scores, indicating lower levels of human development.
  3. Poverty rates: High poverty rates are another characteristic of many third world countries. These countries often have a significant portion of their population living below the poverty line, struggling to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare.
  4. Infrastructure: Inadequate infrastructure, including limited access to clean water, electricity, transportation, and communication systems, is common in third world countries. The lack of infrastructure hinders economic development and quality of life for the population.
  5. Political instability: Many third world countries experience political instability, including frequent changes in government, corruption, and conflicts. These factors contribute to economic uncertainty and hinder investment and development.
  6. Education and literacy rates: Limited access to quality education and low literacy rates are prevalent in third world countries. Lack of education hampers human capital development and economic growth.
  7. Healthcare: Inadequate healthcare systems, including limited access to medical facilities, healthcare professionals, and essential medicines, are common in third world countries. This leads to higher mortality rates and lower life expectancies.

It is important to note that the term “third world” is considered outdated and has been replaced by terms such as “developing countries” or “low-income countries.” However, the criteria mentioned above are still relevant in identifying countries facing economic and social challenges.

List of Third World Countries by Economy

When discussing third world countries, it is important to consider their economic status. The term “third world” originated during the Cold War era to categorize countries that were not aligned with either the capitalist First World or the communist Second World. However, in modern usage, the term has evolved to refer to countries that are economically disadvantaged and face significant development challenges.

Here is a list of third world countries based on their economy:

Low-Income Countries

Low-income countries are characterized by a gross national income (GNI) per capita of $1,045 or less. These countries often have limited resources, high poverty rates, and low levels of industrialization. Some examples of low-income third world countries include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Central African Republic
  • Haiti
  • Malawi
  • Niger

Lower-Middle-Income Countries

Lower-middle-income countries have a GNI per capita between $1,046 and $4,095. These countries are typically in the process of industrialization and face various economic challenges. Some examples of lower-middle-income third world countries include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam

Upper-Middle-Income Countries

Upper-middle-income countries have a GNI per capita between $4,096 and $12,695. These countries have made significant progress in terms of economic development but still face some challenges. Some examples of upper-middle-income third world countries include:

It is important to note that the classification of countries as third world is not fixed and can change over time as economies develop and circumstances evolve. Additionally, this list is not exhaustive and there are many other third world countries with diverse economic situations.