Third World Countries

The Third World Countries was normally seen to include neutral and non-aligned countries. Like many countries with colonial pasts in Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Asia. It was also sometimes taken as synonymous with countries in the Non-Aligned Movement.

What are the Third World Countries?

The phrase ‘Third World Countries’ dates back to the Cold War period, which lasted from 1947 to 1991. At the time the world was divided between two blocs – NATO and the communist nations. The first world referred to the NATO countries which included the United States, Canada, Japan, the countries comprising the Western Europe, and other allies. The Second World referred to the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and their allies. The Third World was a group of nations, which was aligned neither to the NATO countries or the Communist bloc.

Origin of the phrase Third World Countries

The phrase ‘Third World Countries’ originated in 1952 during the time of the Cold War. Alfred Sauvy, a French economic historian, coined the phrase. With the world dominated by two camps, Alfred used this phrase for another group of nations that neither supported the communist nations led by the Soviet Union or the USA and its allies. At times, Third World was taken to be synonymous with the nations that were members of the Non-Aligned Movement, while at other times the term included nations that had a history of colonial rule.

S.N.Country NameNeutrality Status / Members of the NAMNeutrality Period / Beginning Year / NAM Year of AdmissionCapitalPopulationCurrency2015 GDP (PPP) in Millions2015 Nominal GDP - $ Millions2015 GDP (PPP) per Capita
1AfghanistanMember of the NAM1961Kabul26849000Afghani$62,790$20,840$2,000
2AlgeriaMember of the NAM1961Algiers33333267Dinar$5,70,600$1,75,100$14,400
3AngolaMember of the NAM1964Luanda16941000Kwanza$1,85,200$1,02,000$7,600
4Antigua and BarbudaMember of the NAM2006St. John's89000East Caribbean dollar$2,096$1,285$23,700
5AustriaNeutral European Union members1920-1938 and 1955-1995Vienna8223062Euro$4,03,800$3,72,600$47,500
6AzerbaijanMember of the NAM2011Baku9686210Manat$1,74,300$63,980$18,700
7BahamasMember of the NAM1983Nassau379000Bahamian dollar$9,231$8,884$25,600
8BahrainMember of the NAM1973Manama1781000Bahraini dinar$64,900$30,910$51,200
9BangladeshMember of the NAM1973Dhaka158762000Taka$5,77,000$2,02,300$3,600
10BarbadosMember of the NAM1983Bridgetown283000Barbadian dollar$4,658$4,451$16,700
11Belarus Member of the NAM1998Minsk9608058Belarusian ruble$1,68,200$62,020$17,800
12BelizeMember of the NAM1976Belmopan369000Belize dollar$3,071$1,763$8,600
13BeninMember of the NAM1964Porto-Novo8439000CFA franc$21,160$7,701$2,000
14BhutanMember of the NAM1973Thimphu760000Bhutanese ngultrum$6,383$2,209$8,200
15BoliviaMember of the NAM1979Sucre10027254Boliviano$73880$33540$6,500
16BotswanaMember of the NAM1970Gaborone1839833Pula$37,160$13,090$17,700
17BruneiMember of the NAM1993Bandar Seri Begawan421000Brunei dollar$32,900$11,640$79,700
18Burkina FasoMember of the NAM1973Ouagadougou13228000CFA franc$31,180$11,320$1,800
19BurundiMember of the NAM1964Bujumbura7548000Burundian franc$7,883$2,970$900
20CambodiaMember of the NAM1961Phnom Penh15040000Riel$54,035$17,814$3,476.512
21CameroonMember of the NAM1964Yaoundé17795000CFA franc$72,110$28,520$3,200
22Cape VerdeMember of the NAM1976Praia420979Cape Verdean escudo$3,479$1,641$6,700
23Central African RepublicMember of the NAM1964Bangui4216666CFA franc$3,052$1,624$600
24ChadMember of the NAM1964N'Djamena10146000CFA franc$32,000$11,690$2,800
25ChileMember of the NAM1973Santiago18006407Peso$424300$240000$23,800
26ColombiaMember of the NAM1983Bogotá / Santa Fe de Bogotá48347000Peso$665000$274200$14,000
27ComorosMember of the NAM1976Moroni798000Comorian franc$1,214$589$1,600
28Costa RicaOther neutral countries1949-presentSan José35819000Costa Rican colón$74,090$51,620$15,500
29Côte d'IvoireMember of the NAM1973Yamoussoukro17654843CFA franc$78,330$31,270$3,400
30CubaMember of the NAM1961Havana11252000Cuban peso, Cuban convertible peso$1,28,500$77,150$10,200
31Democratic Republic of the CongoMember of the NAM1961Kinshasa75507308Congolese franc$63,270$39,060$800
32DjiboutiMember of the NAM1983Djibouti City906000Djiboutian franc$3,093$1,743$3,300
33DominicaMember of the NAM2006Roseau71000East Caribbean dollar$820.1$538$11,600
34Dominican RepublicMember of the NAM2000Santo Domingo9980000Dominican Peso$1,47,600$66,580$14,900
35East TimorMember of the NAM2003Dili1245000US Dollar$7,101$4,231$5,800
36EcuadorMember of the NAM1983Quito16346700United States dollar$181800$98930$11,300
37EgyptMember of the NAM1961Cairo84550000Egyptian pound$9,96,000$2,86,400$11,500
38Equatorial GuineaMember of the NAM1970Malabo504000CFA Franc$25,940$10,030$33,300
39EritreaMember of the NAM1995Asmara5880000Nakfa$7,938$4,256$1,200
40EthiopiaMember of the NAM1961Addis Ababa85237338Birr$1,59,200$57,560$1,700
41FijiMember of the NAM2011Suva890057Fijian Dollar$7,798$4,526$8,800
42FinlandNeutral European Union members1935-1939 and 1956-1995Helsinki5268799Euro$2,24,700$2,30,700$41,200
43GabonMember of the NAM1970Libreville1384000CFA franc$34,410$13,800$21,700
44GambiaMember of the NAM1973Banjul1517000Gambian dalasi$3,269$761$1,700
45GhanaClaim to be neutral / Member of the NAM2012 / 1961Accra23000000Ghana cedi$1,13,300$37,680$4,300
46GrenadaMember of the NAM1979St. George's104000East Caribbean dollar$1,385$957$13,000
47GuatemalaMember of the NAM1993Guatemala City16176000Guatemalan quetzal$1,25,600$63,220$7,900
48GuineaMember of the NAM1961Conakry10057975CFA Franc$15,280$6,733$1,300
49Guinea-BissauMember of the NAM1976Bissau1586000CFA franc$2,677$1,035$1,500
50GuyanaMember of the NAM1970Georgetown747884Guyanese dollar$5770$3203$7,200
51HaitiMember of the NAM2006Port-au-Prince10994000Haitian gourde$19,020$8,797$1,800
52HondurasMember of the NAM1995Tegucigalpa8950000Honduran lempira$41,000$19,940$5,000
53IndiaMember of the NAM1961New Delhi1299499000Indian rupee$80,27,000$21,83,000$6,300
54IndonesiaMember of the NAM1961Jakarta255462000Rupiah$28,39,000$8,72,600$11,300
55IranMember of the NAM1979Tehran78778000Rial$13,82,000$3,96,900$17,800
56IraqMember of the NAM1961Baghdad36575000Iraqi dinar$5,31,400$1,65,100$15,500
57JamaicaMember of the NAM1970Kingston2729000Jamaican dollar$24,600$13,820$8,800
58JordanMember of the NAM1964Amman6837000Jordanian dinar$82,990$38,210$12,400
59KenyaMember of the NAM1964Nairobi34707817Kenyan shilling$1,43,100$63,120$3,300
60KuwaitMember of the NAM1964Kuwait City4161000Kuwaiti dinar$2,88,800$1,23,200$72,200
61LaosMember of the NAM1964Vientiane6802000Kip$37,500$12,550$5,400
62LebanonMember of the NAM1961Beirut4288000Lebanese pound$83,860$54,400$18,600
63LesothoMember of the NAM1970Maseru2067000Lesotho loti$5,777$2,035$3,000
64LiberiaMember of the NAM1964Monrovia4128572Liberian dollar$3,780$2,015$900
65LibyaMember of the NAM1964Tripoli6036914Dinar$92,870$29,720$15,100
66LiechtensteinOther neutral countries1868-presentVaduz37313Swiss franc$3,200$5,113$89,400
67MadagascarMember of the NAM1973Antananarivo18606000Malagasy ariary$35,560$9,514$1,500
68MalawiMember of the NAM1964Lilongwe12884000Kwacha$20,560$6,388$1,200
69MalaysiaMember of the NAM1970Kuala Lumpur31032000Ringgit$8,13,500$3,13,500$26,600
70MaldivesMember of the NAM1976Malé345000Maldivian rufiyaa$4,732$3,031$13,600
71MaliMember of the NAM1961Bamako13518000CFA franc$29,150$10,950$1,800
72MaltaNeutral European Union members1980-2004Valletta412655Euro$14,750$9,190$34,700
73MauritaniaMember of the NAM1964Nouakchott3069000Ouguiya$16,430$4,677$4,500
74MauritiusMember of the NAM1973Port Louis1219220Mauritian rupee$24,510$11,570$19,500
75MexicoClaim to be neutral1930Mexico City121006000Mexican Peso$22,20,000$11,61,000$18,500
76MoldovaClaim to be neutral1994Chișinău3583288Moldovan leu$17,770$6,188$5,000
77MongoliaMember of the NAM1993Ulaanbaatar3029000Tögrög$36,430$12,410$12,500
78MoroccoMember of the NAM1961Rabat35757175Moroccan dirham$2,74,500$1,03,100$8,300
79MozambiqueMember of the NAM1976Maputo20366795Mozambican metical$33,730$16,990$1,300
80MyanmarMember of the NAM1961Naypyidaw52280000Kyat$2,67,700$65,780$5,200
81NamibiaMember of the NAM1979Windhoek2031000Namibian dollar$24,840$12,860$11,300
82NepalMember of the NAM1961Kathmandu28038000Nepalese rupee$70,080$21,360$2,500
83NicaraguaMember of the NAM1979Managua6514000Nicaraguan córdoba$31,180$12,320$5,000
84NigerMember of the NAM1973Niamey13957000CFA franc$18,960$7,119$1,100
85NigeriaMember of the NAM1964Abuja174507539Naira$11,05,000$4,93,000$6,400
86North KoreaMember of the NAM1976P'yŏngyang25863000North Korean won$40,000$28,000$1,800
87OmanMember of the NAM1973Muscat4181000Rial$1,71,700$60,180$46,200
88PakistanMember of the NAM1979Islamabad191785000Pakistani Rupee$9,30,800$2,47,800$4,900
89PalestineMember of the NAM1976Jerusalem (proclaimed), Ramallah4225710Israeli Shekel$12,700$12,700$1924 (West Bank), $876 (Gaza)
90PanamaMember of the NAM1976Panama City3764000Panamanian balboa, United States dollar$82,180$47,470$20,900
91Papua New GuineaMember of the NAM1993Port Moresby6310129Papua New Guinean kina$19,220$18,000$2,800
92PeruMember of the NAM1973Lima31151643Nuevo sol$385400$179900$12,300
93PhilippinesMember of the NAM1993Manila102965000Philippine Peso$7,42,200$2,99,300$7,500
94QatarMember of the NAM1973Doha2113000Riyal$3,24,200$1,92,100$1,45,000
95Republic of the CongoMember of the NAM1964Brazzaville4012809CFA franc$28,920$8,871$6,800
96RwandaMember of the NAM1970Kigali7600000Rwandan franc$20,320$8,468$1,800
97Saint Kitts and NevisMember of the NAM2006Basseterre46000East Caribbean dollar$1,358$889$22,800
98Saint LuciaMember of the NAM1983Castries172000East Caribbean dollar$2,032$1,438$12,000
99Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesMember of the NAM2003Kingstown110000East Caribbean dollar$1,211$765$11,000
100San MarinoOther neutral countries1862-presentSan Marino32742Euro$1,952$1,543$62,100
101São Tomé and PríncipeMember of the NAM1976São Tomé183176Dobra$663.7$326$3,400
102Saudi ArabiaMember of the NAM1961Riyadh31521000Saudi riyal$16,81,000$6,65,500$54,600
103SenegalMember of the NAM1964Dakar11658000CFA franc$36,300$13,990$2,500
104SerbiaClaim to be neutral2007Belgrade7209764Serbian dinar$97,270$36,560$13,600
105SeychellesMember of the NAM1976Victoria80654Seychellois rupee$2,533$1,375$27,000
106Sierra LeoneMember of the NAM1964Freetown6144562Leone$9,833$4,266$1,600
107SingaporeMember of the NAM1970Singapore City5541000Singapore dollar$4,68,900$2,94,000$85,700
108SomaliaMember of the NAM1961Mogadishu9832017Somali shilling$4,431$5,800$400
109South AfricaMember of the NAM1994Bloemfontein(judicial) Cape Town(legislative) and Pretoria(executive)52981991South African rand$7,24,000$3,17,300$13,400
110Sri LankaMember of the NAM1961Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte20869000Sri Lankan rupee$2,32,500$79,520$11,200
111SudanMember of the NAM1961Khartoum36787012Sudanese pound$1,67,400$84,330$4,500
112SurinameMember of the NAM1983Paramaribo541638Surinamese dollar$9211$5050$16,700
113SwazilandMember of the NAM1970Lobamba (royal and legislative) Mbabane(administrative)1032000Lilangeni$10,870$4,305$9,800
114SwedenNeutral European Union members1814-1918 and 1918-1995Stockholm9723809Swedish krona$4,67,400$4,83,700$48,000
115SwitzerlandOther neutral countries1815-presentBern / Berne8061516Swiss franc$4,82,700$6,77,000$59,300
116SyriaMember of the NAM1964Damascus23270000Syrian pound$55,800$24,600$5,100
117TanzaniaMember of the NAM1964Dodoma44929002Tanzanian shilling$1,38,300$46,190$3,000
118ThailandMember of the NAM1993Bangkok68387000Baht$11,07,000$3,73,500$16,100
119TogoMember of the NAM1964Lomé7154237CFA franc$10,820$4,152$1,500
120Trinidad and TobagoMember of the NAM1970Port of Spain1357000Trinidad and Tobago dollar$44,320$27,670$32,800
121TunisiaMember of the NAM1961Tunis10102000Tunisian dinar$1,27,200$44,270$11,600
122TurkmenistanOther neutral countries / Member of the NAM1995-present / 1995Ashgabat4902000Turkmen new manat$90,290$44,360$15,600
123UgandaMember of the NAM1964Kampala27616000Ugandan shilling$79,750$24,940$2,100
124United Arab EmiratesMember of the NAM1970Abu Dhabi8933000UAE dirham$6,41,900$3,39,100$67,000
125UzbekistanMember of the NAM1993Tashkent31283000Uzbekistan som (O'zbekiston so'mi)$1,85,800$65,950$6,100
126VanuatuMember of the NAM1983Port Vila256155Vanuatu vatu$675.9$771$2,600
127Vatican CityOther neutral countries1929-presentVatican City842Euro   
128VenezuelaMember of the NAM1989Caracas30620404Bolívar fuerte$491600$131900$16,100
129VietnamMember of the NAM1976Hanoi91812000đồng$5,51,300$1,98,800$6,100
130YemenMember of the NAM1990Sana'a26745000Yemeni rial$75,520$34,930$2,800
131ZambiaMember of the NAM1964Lusaka14668000Zambian kwacha$64,650$24,470$4,300
132ZimbabweMember of the NAM1979Harare13010000US dollar$27,920$13,910$2,100

Use of the phrase in the current context

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the fall of the communist governments in Eastern Europe witnessed the end of the Cold War period. Hence, the phrase ‘Third World Countries’ should have ceased to exist. However, the phrase still continues to be used in the 21st century but in different context. Today, the definition of the term is not as straightforward as it used to be during the Cold War period. Today, the term is used for those nations that are poor and underdeveloped. These countries are severely affected by corruption, have poor infrastructure, low standards of living as well as education, and poor healthcare standards.

Problems Affecting Third World Countries

Third World countries are besieged with numerous issues that are acting as barriers in their development. Today, the term is referred to nations, which are poor and underdeveloped.

Almost all of the Third World countries are grappling with the problems of poverty, scarcity of water and electricity, poor infrastructure, low educational standards and healthcare problems. Poverty is one of the biggest challenges that the Third World Countries are grappling with. It has been estimated that around 1.3 billion people who are living in Third World Countries live on an income of less that $1.50 per day which makes it really hard to live a decent life. Poverty has a devastating effect on the person as well as the nation. Poverty leads to hunger and malnutrition, which is a common feature of these nations.

Clean drinking water is a basic necessity, but in a majority of these countries a significant part of the population does not have access to clean drinking water. Poor quality of roads, highways and other infrastructure have prevented these nations from joining the ranks of developed countries.

Education is another fundamental right that is not available to many people in these countries. Due to poverty or other reasons, many people force their children into jobs instead of enrolling them in schools. The lack of education hampers the overall development of the children. Often these children are employed in hazardous jobs which put their health and lives at risk.

There are many other problems affecting Third World Countries such as corruption, poor governance, lack of electricity, too much dependence on foreign debt etc.