Developed countries and underdeveloped countries

According to their socioeconomic status, the United Nations divides countries into two broad categories: developed countries and underdeveloped or developing countries. The classification of countries is based on their Human Development Index (HDI), which measures the wealth, educational level and life expectancy of a country. A country with a high human development index is considered a developed country. In turn, these countries have a large technological infrastructure and an advanced economy compared to other nations. The citizens of a developed country enjoy a free and healthy existence. Countries with low industrialization and low HDI are called developing countries. They have a higher level of birth and mortality than developed countries, as well as a higher infant mortality rate.

Developed countries
Underdeveloped countries
CharacteristicsThese are countries with a high degree of industrialization and high per capita income. They have an HDI close to 1, which indicates good quality and life expectancy, as well as ample educational opportunities.These are countries with low industrialization and low per capita income. They have an HDI close to 0, which indicates low quality and life expectancy, economic vulnerability, and reduced educational opportunities.
Economic developmentThey dominate other countries economically and have stable economic development. They generate income through the industrial sector.They are economically dependent on developed countries. The economy is essentially agricultural, and its income is derived mainly from the agricultural and service sectors.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)Alto.Lower.
Human Development Index (HDI)High (Close to 1)Low (Close to 0)
Birth rateLowAlto.
Mortality rateLowAlto
Infant mortality rateLowAlto
EducationIt has a high literacy rate.It has a high illiteracy rate.
Demographic indicatorsReduction of mortality, infant mortality and birth rates.High mortality, infant mortality and birth rates.
Life expectancyAlto.Low
Life conditionsHello goodModerate / Regular
Income distributionEquitableConcentrated in the hand of a few.
ExamplesNorway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, France, Germany and Italy.India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey.

Developed countries: Characteristics and examples.

With regard to the economy, developed countries have a very high degree of industrialization, with a predominance of the tertiary (commerce) and quaternary (services based on knowledge and information exchange) industrial sectors. A relevant factor in relation to economic development is the  Gross Domestic Product  (GDP) , which represents the monetary value of the goods and services produced by a country in a year, being one of the main indicators of the economic potential of a nation. The  per capita income  , which is the average salary per person, is also considered when evaluating the development of a nation. In developed countries, GDP and per capita income are high, and the distribution of income is generally homogeneous.

With regard to social development , the main indicator is the Human Development Index (HDI) , which analyzes the social development of countries based on issues such as education, health and income. It is a numerical reference that goes from 0 to 1: the closer to 1, the better the living conditions in the country. Developed countries have a high HDI, therefore they have a good quality of life, high income and education. The death and birth rates in these countries are low compared to those in underdeveloped or developing countries.

The nations that appear in the category of developed countries do not have the same standard of living or economic status. However, there are certain characteristics common to developed nations which are the following:

  • Some colonized nations during the rise of commercial capitalism.
  • The Gross Domestic Product consists of economic activities related to industry, commerce and services.
  • Agriculture is specialized and there are large investments in research and technology .
  • They have a favorable trade balance: they import agricultural and primary products and export processed products.
  • On the global stage, they occupy a position of economic domination : the less developed nations depend technologically and economically on these countries.
  • Science and technology are priorities and therefore highly developed. There is significant public and private investment in research.
  • The transport and communication networks and services are advanced and efficient.
  • The population is highly urbanized and, therefore, the concentration of people in agricultural activities is reduced.
  • Schooling rates are high and illiteracy is low compared to underdeveloped countries.
  • Cities have good infrastructure for mobility, leisure, housing and security.
  • With the exception of some countries, such as the United States, population growth is quite low.
  • Infant mortality rates are low and life expectancy is high due to very good health care.

Examples from developed countries.

Developed countries are classified according to their economy and the quality of life of their population.

According to economic criteria, such as the Gross Domestic Product, the following are classified as developed countries:

  • United States: GDP – $ 19.39 trillion
  • Japan: GDP – $ 4.862 trillion
  • Canada: GDP – $ 1.653 trillion
  • Australia: GDP – $ 1.323 trillion

According to social criteria, such as the Human Development Index, the ten most developed countries in the world:

  1. Norway
    HDI:  0.944
  2. Australia
    IDH:  0,933
  3. Suiza
    IDH:  0.917
  4. Netherlands
    HDI:  0.915
  5. United States
    HDI:  0.914
  6. Germany
    HDI:  0.911
  7. New Zealand
    HDI:  0.910
  8. Canada
    HDI:  0.902
  9. Singapore
    IDH:  0,901
  10. Dinamarca:
    IDH:  0,900

Underdeveloped countries: Characteristics and examples

According to the United Nations (UN), countries with low socioeconomic indicators are considered underdeveloped. These nations have low GDP and low per capita income . The social indicators for health, education and nutrition are low, indicating several social problems, such as hunger, misery and unemployment.

The term “underdeveloped” was used after World War II to explain the difference between industrialized countries and those that export raw materials. The countries where most of the industry was located and were the main exporters were called developed countries. Those that depended on agriculture or natural resources were designated as underdeveloped.

Underdeveloped countries are characterized by low economic development and a low level of industrialization. This means that these countries are economically dependent on developed countries. This dependence is due to the fact that these nations were exploited and colonized, presenting, until today, marks of this exploitation. Most of the underdeveloped countries are in the southern hemisphere and have been colonized by European or American powers. In turn, most have lived under dictatorial regimes where corruption among leaders was widespread and little was done to combat it.

The Gross Domestic Product, which represents the monetary value of the goods and services produced by the country during a year, is low and GDP per capita (gross domestic product divided by the number of inhabitants) does not exceed 750 US dollars. In these countries, the economy is mainly based on the primary and tertiary sectors. Another characteristic, related to the economy and investments, is the low scientific development. The lack of capital investment causes deficiencies in the technological field, which prevents the country from developing.

The main indicator of social development in a country is called HDI (Human Development Index), which compares the development of countries according to criteria such as indicators of education, longevity and income. The HDI has a reference that goes from 0 to 1. The closer the index is to 1, the better the living conditions, education and income in the country. The closer it is to 0, the worse the quality of life in the country will be. Therefore, underdeveloped countries have a low HDI so they are closer to 0 and meet the criteria of fragilitySocial Security of the UN. Life expectancy in these countries is reduced. The population growth rate is high, as are the birth and death rates. In general, these countries find it difficult to serve the population, as they lack public policies focused on health, education and culture.

The Haiti is one of the underdeveloped countries of America and, according to the Human Development Index and the criteria established by the UN country is the poorest country in the Americas . The country is experiencing a dramatic scenario both economically, socially and politically. Haiti, in addition to facing alarming corruption, has also suffered 32 coups throughout its history. Corruption is linked to a large network of misappropriations and associated with high rates of poverty in the country, which is experiencing periods of very high inflation.

The country suffers from numerous social problems , especially with regard to health. Trafficking rates are alarming, people live in poverty with malnutrition, and education in the country is precarious. The country receives help from programs such as UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) which, together with the government, promotes vaccines as it did, for example, with the vaccination program against cholera, a disease that killed about 10,000 Haitians. All of these problems are exacerbated by the many natural disastersthat affect the country. Haiti has faced a series of catastrophic earthquakes and hurricanes. Many people leave the country in search of better living conditions and, according to the World Food Program, around 140,000 people live in temporary shelters in the country.

 Underdeveloped countries in Africa

  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

Underdeveloped countries in America

  • Haiti
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua

Underdeveloped countries in Asia

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Burma
  • Nepal
  • Yemen
  • Timor Oriental

Underdeveloped countries in Oceania

  • Kiribati
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

Developing or emerging countries

There are, however, underdeveloped countries that have managed to overcome many of their difficulties over the years. An example of this is Brazil, a country that historically was a colony of exploitation, dominated and exploited for a long period. Such actions left marks of dependency and fragility in the country. For a long time, it was considered an underdeveloped country and until today it has characteristics that refer to this underdevelopment, such as social fragility, hunger, inequality and the concentration of income in certain sectors of the population. However, many classifications frame Brazil as a developing country, that is, one that presents social ascent, improvement of social indicators and growing economic and industrial development, albeit slow.

The term ” developing ” is used to designate those underdeveloped countries that have managed to improve some of their conditions , for example, their infant mortality rates. Similarly, the term emerging countries is used to highlight those that can grow economically in one or two decades. However, they are still subordinate to the economies of developing countries .

Classification of developing countries is a difficult task as there is no single criterion for achieving this classification. Furthermore, the countries considered “developing” have quite varied characteristics. There are, for example, some developing countries whose population has a high standard of living, while others have a population with a medium standard of living. Therefore, some classifications consider as developing countries those whose quality of life varies from medium to high and whose industrial sector, being recent, is developing. They are generally less industrialized than developed countries and more industrialized than underdeveloped countries. The economies of these countries depend on the great powers, and the distribution of income remains heterogeneous.

For example, in the Americas, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina are generally classified as emerging or growing countries. Their GDP is higher than their Latin American neighbors and social indicators have been gradually improving. On the African continent, South Africa, although it continues to have great social inequalities, is a country that has expanded its level of industrialization and has gained prominence on the world stage. In some classifications, the Arab countries of North Africa are also considered in the “development” situation.

The Asian continent is marked by the diversity of its countries in social, cultural and economic aspects. However, industrialized nations are commonly classified as developing countries: the Asian tigers ( South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong ), the gigantic China, the also populous India and the oil monsters in the Middle East: United Arab Emirates (Dubai Capital), Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others. Russia is sometimes classified as developed, sometimes developing, based on evaluation criteria.

Eastern European countries, especially those that experienced armed conflicts in the last century and those that belonged to the socialist bloc in the Cold War period, have similar indicators to some countries considered underdeveloped. Nations such as Moldova, Kosovo, Ukraine, Romania and Albania , although often listed in the group of developed countries, have a number of economic and social characteristics that contradict the choice.

Examples of developing countries according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF):

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Colombia

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