The developed countries are those nations that offer their citizens a high quality of life. To determine the development of a country, both its economy and the level of access of individuals to basic needs and rights are taken into account. For example: Norway, Switzerland, Ireland.
The United Nations Organization conducts a study every year in which it measures the development of countries based on the Human Development Index. The Human Development Index is an indicator that measures the situation of a country and is made from three fundamental indicators: life expectancy, literacy level and GDP per capita. Thus, the countries with the highest level of access to education and health and with the highest economic level are considered the most developed.
It is important to mention that the term “development” does not refer only to the idea of economic growth (which is the increase or decrease in national income) but is used to name the ability of a country to create an environment conducive to people can live according to their needs and interests.
While the idea of economic growth only refers to the productive capacities of a country, development is what allows the entire community to have the capacity and opportunities to function.
Characteristics of developed countries
The main characteristics of developed countries are:
- Industrialization. Its economic growth is usually related to a development of industry and services. It is usual that the economy of developed countries does not depend to a large extent on primary economic activities (agriculture and livestock).
- GDP. They tend to be countries with high GDP per capita and global GDP and low unemployment and inflation rates. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also usually make their country rankings, but only by measuring GDP, that is, only taking into account the economic factor.
- Basic services. The levels of access to electricity, gas and water in developed countries are very high, which implies that they reach almost the entire population. In addition, they are countries that have good public infrastructure.
- Health. These are usually countries with a high life expectancy and health services that are accessible and of quality for all citizens. In addition, they have low rates of infant mortality and malnutrition.
- Literacy and schooling. These are usually countries with an organized and quality educational system that allows almost the entire population to access schooling. In some developed countries education is public, while in others it is private or mixed.
- Finance. The financial system is usually stable and with few crises, and this causes many companies to choose to invest in these types of countries.
- Politics. They are usually politically stable countries with a developed democratic system.
- Society. They tend to be countries that offer opportunities to the majority of the population, so there are no great social inequalities among their citizens.
Examples from developed countries
Based on the Human Development Index carried out by the UN (2020), the most developed countries in the world are:
- Norway. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Oslo. It has a highly developed economy that is based mainly on oil production. It is characterized by its democratic system, its security, and its health and education services.
- Ireland. It is a country located on an island in the North Atlantic within the European continent and its capital is located in Dublin. Its economy depends on industrial production and exports.
- Swiss. It is a country located in central Europe and its capital is Bern. It has one of the most developed economies in the world with a large share of the tertiary sector. Their average life expectancy is 84 years.
- Iceland. It is a country located in the Atlantic Ocean within the European continent and its capital is Reykjavik. It is characterized by its technological development and its educational and health system (with an average life expectancy of 83 years).
- Germany. It is a country located in the center of Europe and its capital is Berlin. It has one of the largest GDP in the world and a highly developed production and export.
- Sweden. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Stockholm. It has an economy characterized by foreign trade and is a country that stands out for its education and health system (with an average life expectancy of 82 years).
- Australia. It is a country located in Oceania and its capital is Canberra. Its economy is based mainly on the tourism sector and exports.
- Netherlands. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Amsterdam. It has one of the most developed economies in the world characterized by low unemployment and commercial development.
- Denmark. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Copenhagen. Its economy is highly developed, with a major role in the service sector and foreign trade. It stands out in its health, educational and access to housing offer.
- Finland. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Helsinki. It stands out for the quality of its educational system and its industrialized economy.
- Singapore. It is a city-state located in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its financial development and international trade. It has one of the most efficient health systems in the world and a bilingual educational system.
- United Kingdom. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is London. It has one of the most developed economies in the world, standing out in the financial sector, mining, and the oil industry.
- Belgium. It is a country located in northern Europe and its capital is Brussels. Its economy is based on industry and commerce. They highlight its health and educational system.
- New Zealand. It is a country located in Oceania and its capital is Wellington. Its economy depends mainly on the service sector and international trade. It has one of the most outstanding educational systems in the world.
- Canada. It is a country located in North America and its capital is Ottawa. It has one of the most important economies in the world, which stands out in agricultural production and export, industry, mining and the tertiary sector.
- U.S. It is a country located in North America and its capital is Washington. It has the highest GDP in the world and its economy is based mainly on the service sector and industries. Most of its population is literate.
- Austria. It is a country located in central-eastern Europe and its capital is Vienna. It is one of the richest countries in the world and its economy is based on the service sector and industry. Much of its population is literate and its average life expectancy is 82 years.
- Israel. It is a country located in the Middle East and its capital is Jerusalem. Its economy stands out in technological production and industry in general. In addition, it is characterized by its universal health system.
- Japan. It is a country located in East Asia and its capital is Tokyo. It is one of the world’s largest economies and stands out in industries such as technology, automobiles, and shipping. Their life expectancy is one of the highest in the world (84 years) and their education is free and compulsory.
- Liechtenstein. It is a country located in the center of Europe and its capital is Vaduz. Its economy depends on the service sector and the financial industry.
Developed countries and underdeveloped countries
In contrast to the concept of developed countries, the concept of underdeveloped countries is often used to refer to those nations that have lower development rates than those countries that lead the ranking.
Underdeveloped countries are those that show low GDP per capita, low literacy rates, and low life expectancy. The quality of life of the citizens of these countries is also usually low, due to difficulties in accessing basic rights, such as health, education and decent housing.
Some countries with low human development index are: Niger, Central African Republic and Chad.