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The term developed country is used to describe countries that have a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue and there is fierce debate about this. Economic criteria have tended to dominate discussions. One such criterion is income per capita and countries with high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita being described as developed countries. Another economic criterion is industrialization. Countries in which the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry dominate being described as developed. More recently another measure, the Human Development Index, which combines with an economic measure, national income, with other measures, indices for life expectancy and education has become prominent. Developed countries being those with a high (HDI) rating. However, many anomalies exist when determining "developed" status by whichever measure is used.

Countries not fitting such definitions are classified as developing countries.

Similar terms

Terms similar to developed country include advanced country, industrialized country, more developed country (MDC), more economically developed country (MEDC), Global North country, first world country, and post-industrial country. The term industrialized country may be somewhat ambiguous, as industrialization is an ongoing process that is hard to define. The term MEDC is one used by modern geographers to specifically describe the status of the countries referred to: more economically developed. The first industrialised country was England, followed by Belgium (Wallonia), Germany, United States, France, the remainder of the United Kingdom and other Western European countries. According to economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, however, the current divide between the developed and developing world is largely a phenomenon of the 20th century.


Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, defined a developed country as follows. " A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment." But according to the United Nations Statistics Division,
There is no established convention for the designation of "developed" and "developing" countries or areas in the United Nations system.
And it notes that
The designations "developed" and developing" are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.
The UN also notes
In common practice, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania, and Europe are considered "developed" regions or areas. In international trade statistics, the Southern African Customs Union is also treated as a developed region and Israelmarker as a developed country; countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia are treated as developing countries; and countries of eastern Europe and of the Commonwealth of Independent States (code 172) in Europe are not included under either developed or developing regions.

According to the classification from IMFmarker before April 2004, all the countries of Eastern Europe (including Central European countries which still belongs to "Eastern Europe Group" in the UN institutions) as well as the former Soviet Union marker countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and Mongoliamarker, were not included under either developed or developing regions, but rather were referred to as "countries in transition"; however they are now widely regarded (in the international reports) as "developing countries".In the 21st century, the original Four Asian Tigers countries (Hong Kongmarker, Singaporemarker, South Koreamarker, and Taiwanmarker) are considered "developed" region or areas, along with Cyprusmarker, Israelmarker, and Sloveniamarker, considered "newly developed countries".

Human Development Index

The UN HDI is a statistical measure that gauges a country's level of human development. While there is a strong correlation between having a high HDI score and a prosperous economy, the UN points out that the HDI accounts for more than income or productivity. Unlike GDP per capita or per capita income, the HDI takes into account how income is turned "into education and health opportunities and therefore into higher levels of human development." A few examples are Italy and the United States. Despite a relatively large difference in GDP per capita, both countries rank roughly equal in term of overall human development. Since 1980, Norwaymarker (2001-2006 and 2009), Japanmarker (1990-91 and 1993), Canadamarker (1992 and 1994-2000) and Icelandmarker (2007-08) have had the highest HDI score. Countries with a score of over 0.800 are considered to have a "high" standard of human development. The top 38 countries have scores ranging from 0.902 in Maltamarker to 0.971 in Norwaymarker.

Many countries listed by IMF or CIA as "advanced" (as of 2009), possess an HDI over 0.9 (as of 2007). Many countries possessing an HDI of 0.9 and over (as of 2007), are also listed by IMF or CIA as "advanced" (as of 2009). Thus, many "advanced economies" (as of 2009) are characterized by an HDI score of 0.9 or higher (as of 2007).

The latest index was released on October 5, 2009 and covers the period up to 2007. The following are the 38 countries classified as possessing a "Very high human development" with an HDI at or above 0.900.

  1. 0.971 ( )
  2. 0.970 ( )
  3. 0.969 ( )
  4. 0.966 ( )
  5. 0.965 ( )
  6. 0.964 ( 1)
  7. 0.963 ( 1)
  8. 0.961 ( 3)
  9. 0.960 ( )
  10. 0.960 ( )
  11. 0.960 ( 3)
  12. 0.959 ( 1)
  13. 0.956 ( 1)

  1. 0.955 ( 2)
  2. 0.955 ( )
  3. 0.955 ( 2)
  4. 0.953 ( )
  5. 0.951 ( 1)
  6. 0.951 ( 1)
  7. 0.950 ( )
  8. 0.947 ( )
  9. 0.947 ( )
  10. 0.944 ( 1)
  11. 0.944 ( 1)
  12. 0.942 ( )
  13. 0.937 ( )

  1. 0.935 ( 1)
  2. 0.934 ( 1)
  3. 0.929 ( )
  4. 0.920 ( )
  5. 0.916 ( )
  6. 0.914 ( )
  7. 0.910 ( 1)
  8. 0.909 ( 1)
  9. 0.903 ( 2)
  10. 0.903 ( )
  11. 0.903 ( 2)
  12. 0.902 ( 3)

Other lists of Developed Countries

Only three institutions have produced lists of "developed countries". The three institutionsand their lists are the UN list (shown above), the CIA list and the FTSE Group's list, whose list is not included because its association of developed countries with countries with both high incomes and developed markets is not deemed as directly relevant here. However many institutions have created lists which are sometimes referred to when people are discussing developed countries. The IMFmarker identifies 34 "advanced economies", The OECD, also widely known as the 'developed countries club'
has 30 members. The World Bank identifies 66 "high income countries". The EIU's Quality-of-life survey and a list of countries with welfare states are also included here. The criteria for using all these list and for countries inclusion on these lists is often not properly spelt out and several of these lists are based on old data.

IMF advanced economy list

According to the International Monetary Fundmarker the following 34 countries are classified as "advanced economies":

The CIA has a modified version of an old version of the IMF's list of Advanced Economies. The CIA notes that the IMF's Advanced Economies list "would presumably also cover" some smaller countries. They are:

The CIA list does not include Cyprusmarker, Czech Republicmarker, Maltamarker, Slovakiamarker and Sloveniamarker which have all been added to the IMF's list since the CIA's made its presumptions about the IMF list.

High-income OECD members

There are 27 High-income OECD members, although there are three other OECD members (Mexicomarker, Polandmarker and Turkeymarker) that are not high-income members. The CIA, in its developed country list, implies that developed countries are the OECD members plus Bermuda, Israel, South Africa, and the European ministates. As of 2009, the High-income OECD membership is as follows:

21 countries in Europe:
2 countries in Asia:
2 countries in North America:
2 countries in Oceania:

World Bank high-income economies

[[Image:World Bank income groups.svg|thumb|right|

"High income economies" are defined by the World Bank as countries with a Gross National Income per capita of $11,906 or more in 2008. According to the United Nations definition some high income countries may also be developing countries. Thus, a high income country may be classified as either developed or developing.

According to the World Bank, the following 67 countries and territories are classified as "high-income economies":

    • Channel Islands

              • High-income economy not classified by World Bank:

                Quality-of-life survey

                Research about standards of living and quality of life by the Economist Intelligence Unit resulted in a quality-of-life index. As of 2005, the highest ranked countries are:

                1. Irelandmarker
                2. Switzerlandmarker
                3. Norwaymarker
                4. Luxembourgmarker
                5. Swedenmarker
                6. Australia

                  1. Icelandmarker
                  2. Italymarker
                  3. Denmarkmarker
                  4. Spainmarker
                  5. Singaporemarker
                  6. Finlandmarker

                    1. United Statesmarker
                    2. Canadamarker
                    3. New Zealandmarker
                    4. Netherlandsmarker
                    5. Japanmarker
                    6. Hong Kongmarker

                      1. Portugalmarker
                      2. Austriamarker
                      3. Taiwanmarker
                      4. Greecemarker
                      5. Cyprusmarker
                      6. Belgiummarker

                        1. Francemarker
                        2. Germanymarker
                        3. Sloveniamarker
                        4. Maltamarker
                        5. United Kingdommarker
                        6. South Koreamarker


                        Below is a "summary" table which has been produced by Wikipedia editors as a summary of the information on this page. It should be used with caution. Different data sources for the different lists are of different vintages and some of the lists are based on each other. Readers are warned that it is not intended that the "all" column should be used to indicate that those countries on more lists are more developed than those on less.

                        HIE OECD High-income OECD members CIA AE CIA's The World Factbook, Advanced economies
                        IMF AE International Monetary Fundmarker, Advanced economies WB HIE World Bank, High-income economies
                        HDI≥0.9 Human Development Index at or above 0.9 QoL Top 30 Quality-of-life index Top 30 countries
                        Countries HIE OECD CIA AE IMF AE WB HIE HDI≥0.9 QoL Top 30 All
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
                        NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
                        NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
                        NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
                        NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
                        YES NO YES YES YES NO 4
                        NO YES YES YES YES NO 4
                        NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
                        NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
                        NO YES YES YES NO 3
                        NO YES YES YES NO 3
                        NO YES YES YES 3
                        YES NO YES YES NO NO 3
                        NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO YES YES 2
                        NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO YES YES NO 2
                        YES NO NO YES NO NO 2
                        NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        Channel Islands NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO YES 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
                        NO NO YES NO 1

                        See also


                        6. The official classification of "advanced countries" is originally made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF list doesn't deal with non-IMF members. The CIA intends to follow IMF list but adds few countries which aren't dealt with by IMF due to their not being IMF members. By May 2001, the advanced country list of the CIA was more comprehensive than the original IMF list. However, since May 2001, three additional countries (Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia) have been added to the original IMF list, thus leaving the CIA list not updated.
                        7. Namely sovereign states, i.e. excluding Macau: In 2003 the government of Macau calculated its HDI as being 0.909 (the UN does not calculate Macau's HDI); In January 2007, the People's Daily reported (from China Modernization Report 2007): "In 2004...Macau...had reached the level of developed countries". However, Macau is not recognized by any international organisation as a developed/advanced territory, while the UNCTAD organisaion (of the UN), as well as the CIA, classify Macao as a "developing" territory. The World Bank classifies Macau as a high income economy (along with developed economies as well as with few developing economies).
                        8. [1]
                        9. The Developed Countries Glossary entry reads: "The following countries are classified by FTSE as developed countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States."
                        13. IMF Advanced Economies List. World Economic Outlook, Database—WEO Groups and Aggregates Information, October 2009.
                        14. World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund, October 2009, second paragraph, line 9–10.
                        16. World Bank - Country Groups. Accessed on July 11, 2009
                        17. World Bank - Country Classification. Accessed on October 12, 2008, last paragraph, line 4.
                        18. Country classification table, World Bank. Accessed on line December 22, 2008.
                        19. The world in 2005: The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality-of-life index, The Economist. Accessed on line January 8, 2007.
                        20. Indicator Tables HDI 2008, United Nations Development Programme, December 18, 2008. Some entities are not included in this report. In this case an HDI figure from the UN's last available report has been used, except in the cases of the Republic of China and Macau, which the UN has not calculated an HDI for; here, the figure of the entities' governments has been used.

                        External links

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