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Q: Third world countries ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Third world countries
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: tenshiarts-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 11 Oct 2002 09:05 PDT
Expires: 10 Nov 2002 08:05 PST
Question ID: 75316
I need an accurate, up to date list of the current countries being
classified as THIRD WORLD or LESS DEVELOPED (LDC). I need it to be
from a reliable source (as in "world back group" versus "seventh grade
teacher") and I need some explaination on how they calculated the list
or basically the classifications they are using to determine if a
country is Third World or not.
Subject: Re: Third world countries
Answered By: leli-ga on 11 Oct 2002 10:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thank you for your question on Third World countries. 

The United Nations uses the phrases 'developing countries' and 'least
developed countries' rather than 'Third World'. While it does have an
official list of 'least developed countries' it does not have an
official list of 'developing countries' because its members have not
agreed on the criteria.


These are the countries designated 'least developed' by the United

"Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso,
Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad,
Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Djibouti,
Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau,
Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia,
Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar,
Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone,
Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic
of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.

The least developed countries are the poorest countries in the world.
They are officially designated as "least developed" by the General
Assembly of the United Nations, i.e. by the world community as a
whole, on the basis of a number of agreed criteria. There are
currently 48 of them..."

These are the figures collected in preparation for the Third United
Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Brussels in
2001. See:

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

There's a table showing their status with the World Trade

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development table of least
developed countries

The criteria for inclusion are:

"The thresholds for inclusion in the list of LDCs are: population of
less than 75 million; per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of less
than 900 dollars; Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index (combining
health, nutrition and education) of less than 59; and an economic
vulnerability index (EVI) of less than 36."

Third World Network

This article also describes Senegal's recent addition to the UN list
of Least Developed Countries, bringing the total to 49.


The World Bank's list of developing countries can be found here:

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: List of Developing

There's a more detailed classification of countries here:

World Bank: Country Groups

Their criteria for classification are explained on a page where you
can download their 'country classification table' in Excel format if
you wish:
"For operational and analytical purposes, the World Bank’s main
criterion for classifying economies is gross national income (GNI) per
capita. In previous editions of our publications, this term was
referred to as gross national product, or GNI."

World Bank: country classification


The United Nations attitude:

"Many international statistics users want to know which countries are
considered "developed" (or "industrialized") and which "developing".
There is no official United Nations listing of developed and
developing countries because there is no international consensus on
what measurement criteria to apply."

This comes from a page at the University of Wisconsin describing the
United Nations Statistical Yearbook (available on CD-Rom)


There's one simple list of Third World countries on a webpage at Old
Dominion University. They offer a 1999 list based on:
The Third World: Premises of U. S. Policy, edited by Thompson, W.
Scott. San Francisco: Institute of Competency Studies (1978)
and updated with United Nations criteria.
They note that 'Developing Nations' is a more politically correct term
than 'Third World' and that the list does not include China or former
Soviet Bloc countries which might be considered eligible for

List of Third World Countries

Least developed countries 2000 report and other relevant publications
downloadable from:

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if it needs any

Regards - Leli

search terms:
"united nations" "developing countries" "least developed countries"
"world bank"
"third world" criteria list

Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 11 Oct 2002 13:34 PDT
Thank-you for the nice feedback. I'm glad you found the answer helpful.
tenshiarts-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
This is above and beyond what I expected...!!! Thank you!

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