Developing Countries


Developing countries are the poor countries of our world. While most of them are located in many parts of Africa and Asia, some countries in South and Central America are also referred to as developing countries.  About 70% of the world’s 7 billion people live in underdeveloped countries.

Many of these nations have an economy that is based on farming. They do not produce enough of the goods that their growing population needs. As a result, many people in developing countries live in poverty.

In developing countries, governments control many sectors of the economy. Industries, banks and the energy sector often belong to the state.  Today, some countries are slowly opening up to foreign investment. They are allowing private companies and businesspersons to bring in money to finance various projects.

In the last few decades, countries around the world have grown from developing countries to fully industrialised nations. In Asia, for example, the so-called “Four Tigers” - South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan - managed to develop to industrial nations between the 1960s and the 1990s.

Drawing a line between developed nations and developing countries is not very easy. Some countries are in-between, but still growing at a rapid pace. Among them are China, Brazil, India, Mexico and others.

Economic experts use the GDP per capita of a country to determine whether it is a developing country or not. While the wealthiest countries of the world have a GDP of over 40,000 US dollars, most of the poorest countries are under $1,000 per year. Countries with a GDP per capital of under $4,000 are referred to as developing countries.





Characteristics of a developing country

  • Low income – Developing countries get most of their income from selling farming products and raw materials. They often do not have industries that produce expensive goods for the world markets. People live in poverty because they do not have the money to buy everyday goods.
  • Hunger and starvation – Especially in Africa, widespread droughts lead to food shortages so that these countries are dependent on food imports.
  • Debt - Governments borrow money and accumulate huge debts that they cannot pay back.
  • Unemployment – Up to 50% of the population in developing countries, especially younger people, have no job. A large part of the population works in farming. Industries cannot develop because of many unskilled workers.
  • Lack of infrastructure – Many developing countries do not have basic services that their population needs. There are not enough roads for transportation. They lack schools and colleges, as well as doctors and hospitals.
  • High population growth – Many Third World countries grow at the rate of up to 3% per year and more.
  • Exploding cities – Many people are leaving the countryside and moving to the big cities, where they live in slums, ghettos and shantytowns on the outskirts. As a result, these metropolitan areas are becoming overcrowded and do not have facilities for millions of new residents.
  • Sanitation – Many developing countries lack clean water. Dirty water is often untreated and people use it for washing and drinking.
  • Lower life expectancy – The population in developing countries does not live as long as in wealthier countries. While people in Japan and Northern Europe have an average life expectancy of over 80, the population in Central Africa lives to the age of 50 on average.
  • Corruption is a problem in many Third World countries. Money does not reach the people who need it. It is rather used for government project or buying weapons.
  • Political conflicts - Some developing countries still suffer from the effects of colonialisation, which are difficult to overcome. Conflicts between rival groups lead to power struggles and unstable governments. In some of these countries, civil wars have been going on for many years.




Related Topics



  • accumulate = collect, grow
  • based on = here: the main part of the economy is …..
  • basic services = help or important work that people do
  • billion = a thousand million
  • debt = the money you have borrowed from someone else and have to pay back
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • dependent on = need badly
  • determine = decide, find out
  • drought = long period of dry weather when there is not enough water for animals and plants to live
  • economy = system by which a country’s money and goods are produced
  • especially = above all
  • facility = building or place that is used for something special
  • food shortage = not enough food
  • foreign investment = people or companies want to open up a business in another country and spend money there
  • GDP per capita = the total of all the goods and services that a country produces in one year; this amount is divided by the number of people who live in the country, so that countries can be compared to each other.
  • goods = products
  • growth = increase, becoming more or bigger
  • in-between= in the middle
  • income = the money you get from the work you do or the products you sell
  • infrastructure = basic systems and structure that a country needs in order to function, like hospitals, schools, roads, bridges etc..
  • lack = not have enough of
  • located = to be found
  • manage =  achieve, succeed in doing something
  • metropolitan areas = cities
  • open up = here: to let  something happen
  • outskirts = parts of a city that are far away from the centre
  • overcrowded = too many people who live in a small area
  • poverty = situation of being poor
  • rapid pace = very quickly
  • rate = speed
  • raw materials = minerals or farming products in their original state , like coffee, bananas, oil, coal wood etc..
  • refer to = call
  • resident = a person who lives or stays in a place
  • Third World = poorer countries of the world that are not  industrially developed
  • shantytown = very poor area in or near a city where people live in small huts or houses
  • starvation = being hungry all the time and not having enough to eat
  • undeveloped country = poor country that is not as rich as others
  • unemployment = being out of work or having no job
  • unskilled = without training, not qualified
  • various = different kinds of
  • wealthy = rich