Facts About Third World Countries
Third world countries all over the world are struggling to have their voices heard due to widespread negative perceptions and stereotypes. Many areas of the globe lack all the facts about third world countries, both knowing where such nations are located as well as efforts from within to push forward. Here are 10 facts about third world countries that will help give a better look at these developing nations.

10 Facts About Third World Countries

  1. The term “third world countries” was first used during the Cold War. This term was used to specify the countries that didn’t side with NATO/capitalism or at the time the Soviet Union/communism. Since the Soviet Union no longer exists, the term “third world countries” has become more open to interpretation in today’s society. The new generic meaning for third world countries are poor and underdeveloped nations. Such descriptors can refer to poor education, infrastructure, improper sanitation and/or poor access to healthcare.
  2. Third world countries can be categorized in different sections. Third world countries can be measured up in five different sections — political rights and civil liberties, gross national income, human development, poverty and press freedom. It is likely to see the same countries in each of these sections. For example, Somalia is listed under political and civil liberties, gross national income, poverty and press freedom.
  3. The term “third world” is becoming more and more out of date. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the interpretation of “third world countries” has become more open. With this phrase being so open it is easier to see the holes within. In an article by NPR, Marc Silver asked, “Who is to say which part of the world is “first?” And how can an affluent country like Saudi Arabia, neither Western nor communist, be part of the Third World?” To replace the term, “third world countries,” others are using phrases such as “developing world,” “developing countries” or “majority world.” There still isn’t a global consensus on which term to use.
  4. There are 166 developing countries. According to the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, there were approximately 166 developing countries; of these 166 developing countries, 52 are African countries; currently, Africa has a total of 54 countries.
  5. Water pollution is a growing concern in developing countries. More people die every year from unsafe water than from any form of violence. On January 10, 2018, the head of United Nations Environment and the Director General of the World Health Organization signed an agreement to improve joint actions to tackle pollution concerns around the world. Along with this agreement, the organizations also seek to improve coordination of waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues.
  6. Health and nutrition resources are minimal. When determining whether a country is “developing,” there are three criteria to take into account. These three criteria are low-income, human resources and economic vulnerability. At least half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. Along with poor access to health services WHO reported that two billion people lack key micronutrients in their diet and 88 percent of countries suffer from either two to three forms of malnutrition.
  7. Eighty percent of the world lives on $10 or less a day. Nearly two-thirds of the global workforce is listed under an ‘informal’ economy. Informal work means that these employees don’t have proper social protection, rights at work and adequate working conditions. In fact, the United Nations reports that “93 percent of the world’s informal employment is in emerging and developing countries.” Of this number, men, covering 63 percent, are most likely to obtain informal employment. The United Nations concluded that those living in rural areas are twice as likely to be informally employed than those in urban areas.
  8. There exists a higher percentage of violence against women. One in three women will globally experience physical or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner. This is true in any country, but the World Health Organization reported that those in developing countries are still more likely to experience this violence. It is reported that 36.6 percent of women in the Africa region and 37.7 percent of women in the South/East Asia region are most likely to undergo physical or sexual violence.
  9. Three hundred eighty-seven million children worldwide live in poverty. Of all the children in the world, 19.5 percent live in extreme poverty while the child mortality rate has improved in recent years. In 1990, there were 93 deaths per every 1,000 live births. In 2016, this amount dropped to 41 deaths per every 1,000 live births. According to UNICEF’s most recent report, about 15,000 children under five still die every day.
  10. Seventy-nine percent of people in third world countries live without electricity. It is seen that there is more harm than good for most who are living without electricity. Those who live without electricity are producing indoor air pollution through burning fires. This causes up to 3.5 million deaths per year.

Whether it is called “third world” or “developing,” countries all over the world are pushing to grow and move forward. Without proper funding and education, it becomes increasingly difficult to improve as stated in these 10 facts about third world countries. Visit Act Now on The Borgen Project website to find 30 ways to help those trying to overcome obstacles succeed.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Singapore's economic success
In 1965, Singapore was ousted from Malaysia and began its journey as an independent society. Singapore’s per capita income was $500, and although the country was not extremely poor, malnutrition was prevalent. However, the per capita today stands at an impressive $55,000 — the largest increase for any newly independent nation. In many ways, Singapore’s economic success can be attributed to the young nation’s leadership.

Singapore’s First Prime Minister

Lee Kuan Yew served as Singapore’s first prime minister from 1965 until 1990. It was his firm autocratic leadership that took Singapore from rags to riches. Lee believed the test to determine the effectiveness of a political system is whether it improves the standard of living for most of its people.

According to Lee’s definition of an effective political system, Singapore is the epitome of precisely that, but this effectiveness comes at the expense of democracy.

While Singapore tops the charts in competitive economies and in the prevention of corruption and graft, it scores in the bottom half of societies concerning democratic participation and personal liberties.

It is unusual for Westerners to hear that an autocratic government performs more effectively and efficiently than a democratic one; however, history and empirical data show that Lee’s leadership led to a society that produced more wealth per capita, better health and more security for a majority of its citizens over other societies.

Other empirical data shows that Singapore reduced its infant mortality rate faster than any other society in the world. The infant mortality rate went from 35 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1965 to an astounding 2.2 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013 — a lower mortality rate than the U.S. Additionally, these children go on to receive an education that was ranked best in the world in 2015 in math and science.

Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty.

Singapore’s economic success is not only accredited to the work of Lee. Goh Keng Swee, an architect, and S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s philosophical insight, also contributed to the success of the country. All three implemented a set of ground rules that Singapore has thrived on: Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty.

Meritocracy upholds that the best citizens should be chosen to run the country, not those in the ruling class. Pragmatism means to copy the best practices that have been utilized by other societies and apply and adapt them to Singapore. Honesty is essential to combat corruption, the downfall of many societies.

Many look down on Singapore because it is viewed as a benevolent and refined dictatorship, but it holds free elections every five years. The population in Singapore is one of the best educated in the world, and the citizens continue to vote for the “un-free” society that it is. Not only do inhabitants choose to continue to live in Singapore, but also people from the Americas and parts of Europe choose to move there.

One can argue that Singapore has made a tremendous comeback, and has become of the best success stories in history; however, it is debatable whether its dictatorship is the best approach to maintaining a successful society. As of today, it appears that Singapore is one of the best places to be born and live.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

Pollution in the Third WorldLevels of pollution in the third world are disproportionately impactful and the cost of this impact keeps rising. In 2015, 195 countries came together in Paris to discuss climate change. These countries eventually came to an agreement on what should be done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In previous climate summits, the agreements usually excused developing countries (including China and India) from implementing stricter greenhouse gas limits. This was with good reason; many of these countries had not contributed to the majority of GHG emissions throughout history. Consequentially, developing countries did not experience the same opportunities to grow as other nations.

However, the new accord mandates lower emissions regardless of a country’s economic status.

Countries like India and China, with growing populations and a rising middle class, are increasingly contributing to GHG emissions. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to be the largest, developed polluting country.

The impact of climate change is usually felt most by the poorest individuals, especially in third world countries. Pollution in the third world has major implications that are not often felt in developed countries like the U.S.

Many regions within Africa struggle against the adverse effects of climate change. As a 2010 World Bank article stated, “In Sub-Saharan Africa extreme weather will cause dry areas to become drier and wet areas wetter; agriculture yields will suffer from crop failures; and diseases will spread to new altitudes.”

In a 2016 U.N. aid summit, pressure rose to provide more funding to reduce the risks of natural disasters. The world’s poor faces a higher risk from adverse weather due to climate change.

Various government entities and private organizations have been fighting to mitigate the effects of climate change in impoverished countries. For example, the Red Cross is implementing forecast-based financing in Uganda, which “releases funding to communities according to agreed triggers such as weather predictions.”

Some developing African countries are even using solar power to access electricity. Gigawatt Global implemented a $24 million solar project in the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village within Rwanda.

The climate conditions within Sub-Saharan Africa are ideal for solar energy. This solar project also provides training and job opportunities for local residents. Rwanda’s solar energy plant provides hope for the future of clean energy and lower pollution in the third world.

According to scientists, the world has not yet reached the point of no return in terms of climate change. If the heavy reform recommended for high-emitting countries came to pass, future disasters might be avoided in third world countries like Kenya and Rwanda.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Flickr

Third World Country
“Third World country” is a phrase used all the time in discussions of impoverished/under-developed nations, but what does this designation actually mean? Many of those who reference a supposed third world country have no conception of the origin of the phrase and unknowingly use it incorrectly.

The term was first coined during the Cold War era and referred to the nations that were aligned with neither the U.S. nor the U.S.S.R. Most often, these were the developing nations of Africa, Asia and South America.

The “First World” was made up of the democratic-industrial nations within the sphere of American influence. These countries were capitalist and came out of World War II with similar political and economic interests; examples include Japan, Australia and the countries of Western Europe.

The “Second World” was the Eastern bloc of communist-socialist, industrial states in the territory of the U.S.S.R. Today this descriptor would apply to Russia, Eastern Europe (i.e. Poland), some of the Turk states and China.

The three-quarters of the global population that was left over became known as the “Third World.” The countries are not a very cohesive group, including capitalist and communist economies like Venezuela and North Korea, as well as rich and poor countries like Saudi Arabia and Mali.

History of the Third World Country

The exact origin of the terminology “third world” is unclear. In 1952, a French demographer named Alfred Sauvy wrote an article in a French magazine, L’Observateur, that ended by comparing the Third World with the Third Estate of pre-revolutionary France. Sauvy may have been the first to use the phrase, remarking “this ignored Third World, exploited, scorned like the Third Estate.”

The modern descriptor has moved away from its original definition. Today, various indicators, which are have nothing to do with Cold War alliances, are used to classify “Third World” countries. These include political rights and civil liberties, Gross National Income (GNI), Human Development (HDI), as well as the freedom of information within a country. The concept of the “third world” has evolved to describe countries that suffer from high infant mortality, low economic development, high levels of poverty and little to no ability to utilize natural resources.

“Third World” nations tend to have economies dependent on the economic prosperity of the developed countries and, as a result, tend to have a large foreign debt. A common factor is the lack of a middle class — “third world” income distribution is made up of impoverished millions and a very small elite upper class controlling the country’s wealth and resources. Because their economies are lacking, these countries generally cannot support their high levels of population growth. The nations of the “Third World” often have unstable governments and are pervaded by illiteracy and disease.

Although useful as a descriptor for a select group of countries, many exceptions make the geopolitical term seem hugely outdated. For example, Saudi Arabia, as previously noted, is technically a “Third World” country, but it obviously does not meet the qualifications mentioned above. The three worlds additionally do not take into account the emerging economies of countries like Brazil and India. The phrase has expanded to describe sections of affluent countries that are impoverished compared to richer areas but maybe not so destitute with regard to levels of global poverty.

The world of the 21st century is much more complex than it was during the Cold War period; First World countries have third world qualities and vice versa. Calling countries developing nations versus non-developing nations might be a better option, but it is unclear what the exact distinction here is either. Very real modern global problems are not well-served by wishy-washy generalizations.

– Katie Pickle

Sources: Nations Online, Policy.Mic
Photo: Funding Gates

Impoverished Countries
The term “Third World” is often used to describe the impoverished nations across the globe. According to Business Insider, the following list represents the 20 most impoverished developing countries from lowest to highest by GDP per capita:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. Republic of Zimbabwe
  3. Republic of Burundi
  4. Republic of Liberia
  5. State of Eritrea
  6. Republic of Niger
  7. Central African Republic
  8. Republic of Sierra Leone
  9. Togolese Republic (Togo)
  10. Republic of Malawi
  11. Republic of Madagascar
  12. Republic of Mozambique
  13. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  14. Republic of Guinea
  15. Republic of Rwanda
  16. Republic of Mali
  17. Republic of Uganda
  18. Federal Republic of Nepal
  19. Burkina Faso
  20. Republic of Haiti

Eighteen of these countries are in Africa. The widespread famine and war that have plagued the continent for decades, along with the hardships resulting from several nations’ recent independence from colonial European powers have all contributed to the poverty endured in the country.

Of the numerous conditions that perpetuate poverty within the countries listed above, three factors dominate: drought, political instability and failure to harness resources.

What Creates Impoverished Countries

Water shortage has long been cited as one of the leading contributors to poverty. Severe droughts afflict nearly every third world nation on this list, causing a domino effect of failed crops, health concerns and further impoverishment.

Governmental instability prolongs poverty by fragmenting nations. Lack of political security and centrality undermine every inferior structure within the national hierarchy. Corruption, dictatorships and military rule impede economic development by institutionalizing instability and failing to address the issues that arise from poverty.

Although some of these countries contain valuable resources, few third world nations possess the capital to develop proper infrastructure. This results in an inability to exploit these assets or yield any profit from them.

The three poorest countries in the world, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Burundi, all have a GDP per capita of $400 or less, according to Business Insider. This is less than one one-hundredth of the United States’ GDP per capita.

So what’s the good news? There are tangible solutions to these three problems, and several developing countries are already beginning to pursue them.

Rwanda, rich with minerals and having received external aid after the genocide, shows signs of hope. Guinea and the Central African Republic show promise as well, if they can advance their industries and attain political stability. The Togolese Republic, working to repair its relationship with the international community and improve productivity through market privatization and foreign donor support, is experiencing some economic progress.

External contributors, such as the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, are supporting industry development and helping lay the groundwork for business in third world countries. Local governments are slowly shifting from military leadership to democracy. The progression of technology is creating more efficient ways to grow crops and utilize existing water sources.

The third world countries listed above are still far from escaping the bondage of poverty. Their greatest setbacks are their limited means for improving their conditions. But with the intervention and assistance of external powers, the improvement of infrastructure and the development of autonomous governments, there is potential for progress.

– Zoe Smith

Sources: Business Insider, One World Nations, The World Bank
Photo: World Knowing

third world country
The term “third world country” was created during the Cold War and was used to categorize a country’s alignment during the war. There were three categories at this time: those countries whose views aligned with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and capitalism (i.e. the First World); those countries whose views aligned with the Soviet Union and communism, (i.e. the Second World); and all the other countries, aligned with neither view, the “Third World.”

Today, the term “third world” is an antiquated term most commonly used to describe the developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and is a term typically associated with poverty. What classifies a country as part of the “Third World”? Below are four of the indicators that are used to classify third world countries:

1. Low Gross National Income (GNI)

Third world countries experience low economic development, and high rates of poverty. For the 2015 fiscal year, low-income economies—such as those in Tanzania, Haiti and Cambodia—are defined as those with a GNI per capita of less than $1,045 in 2013. The GNI for high-income economies, such as the United States, is $12,746 per capita.

2. Economic Dependence on Other Countries

Developing third world countries, as a result of the state of their economies, rely heavily on more economically and technologically advanced countries. And, third world countries’ economies—which, for the most part, lack modernity and independence—are typically geared towards serving and are controlled by more developed countries. This imbalance of control and dependence widens the gap between the wealthy countries, such as the U.S., and low-income economies such as Cameroon’s.

3. Low Human Development Index (HDI)

The HDI, published annually by the United Nations, measures three basic dimensions of human life: knowledge, a long and healthy life and a decent standard of living. The U.S. is ranked fifth on the HDI scale, while a developing country such as the Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 186th.

4. Lack of Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Most of the world’s poorest countries are also the countries for which there is a severe lack of political rights and civil liberties. Developing countries such as Sudan are war-torn and civil liberties and rights almost nonexistent in the wake of the violence and war crimes. Citizens of the U.S. experience a life that is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, with basic rights such as the right to an education strongly in place.

There are other indicators when it comes to categorizing a country as “third world,” and certainly not every developing country shares each of the above characteristics. But one thing is clear: millions of people around the world are citizens of countries in which daily life is excruciatingly difficult.

Poverty, limited access to education, low standards of living and lack of civil liberties and political rights are just a few of the realities for the many third world countries that exist alongside wealthy nations such as the U.S. If wealthier nations stepped in and did more to assist third world countries, surely the term would dissipate, following the alleviation of the effects of extreme poverty.

– Elizabeth Nutt

Sources: The World Bank, One World – Nations Online, United Nations Development Programme, Blurtit
Photo: Mental Floss

How Global Giving Is Changing
The dynamic of global giving is evolving as foreign aid from industrialized nations decreases and aid given by private foundations, corporations, and countries which have recently pulled themselves out of third world status increases.

Among the largest nongovernmental contributors is the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which in 2011 paid $3.4 billion in grants. Developed nations contribute higher amounts. Of the four highest contributing nations, the United States contributes the most at $31 billion (.2 percent of GDP), the United Kingdom contributes just over $13 billion (.65 percent of GDP), with Germany and France contributing right under $13 billion (.43 percent and .64 percent of GDP respectively). While the United States contributes a higher flat rate of aid to foreign nations, percentage-wise it contributes less than the least giving of the top donors.

One of the most positive aspects of private organizations donating to impoverished nations is that the organizations are often willing to take bigger risks than governmental organizations such as USAID. Governmental organizations are often bound to low-risk investments due to their accountability to tax payers. Alleviated from this type of accountability, NGOs can invest as freely as they see fit. In fact, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation takes pride in investing in big-risk grants. As a single organization the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation gives more foreign aid than some developed nations.

Countries with weaker GDPs are also beginning to contribute to global development. All over the world, countries are beginning to see that strengthening one nation’s economy works to strengthen the global economy. With a more globally conscious mindset, it is no wonder that World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said that extreme poverty will be eliminated by 2030.

– Pete Grapentien

Source NPR