Is Singapore A First World Country?

Singapore is first in Asia in so many ramifications. The level of development in that small city state has left many in a state of disbelief. Singapore is a small group of islands in the South China Sea; it seems equidistant between mainland Asia and Australia. Singapore has a population of 5.6 million, and a total land area of 733.1 km2. Singapore is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

That is just one of the superlatives about this place; this is a highly developed society with very many high net worth individuals. Singapore also has a very developed real estate market; it has a home ownership rate of 80%, and an unemployment rate of 1.90%. Singapore is one of the richest places in the world, and a country where citizens enjoy a very high quality of life.

Is Singapore A First World Country?

Yes, Singapore is a first world country. But there are two possible meanings of the term “First World,” and so it depends on the context, or the meaning with which the question was asked.

The Political Meaning

The term “First World” was invented during the cold war. At that time it was used to describe countries that supported the US and its allies as they fought against the Soviet Union.

This meant countries that accepted capitalism, and that tended to lean towards democracy. This also meant countries that gave their citizens a measure of freedom.

On the other side of the war, there were countries that supported the Soviet Union; and they were called Second World countries. These were countries of the Communist Bloc; they didn’t give much freedom to their citizens, and they didn’t have a media.

The “First World” of that time was a purely political statement.

The New Meaning

After the Cold War ended, the term “First World” came to have a completely different meaning. It came to mean countries with enough money and comfort. There are many different ways of saying this, but in the end it’s all about wealth.

Depending on where you read about this; First World countries could mean “industrialized countries”, or countries with stable economies, or countries with stable democracies and social structures. Usually other factors considered may include the carbon footprint, GDP Per Capita, unemployment rate, and press freedom.

There is still a bit of politics in this definition; countries become rich by attracting investors to build factories and other industries in their countries, thus building the economy, and proving jobs. The problem is that investors generally choose countries with stable democracies. They want countries that are not likely going to be up in arms, looting and burning property.

Those countries tend to create a lot of wealth, and the citizens tend to live in comfort. Those are the countries assigned “First World” status.

Following behind are “Second World” countries. These are countries that have stable but less developed economies; those are countries who have already attracted investors, and whose economies are classified as “Developing Economies.”

After those you have “Third World” countries which are mostly countries in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. Unfortunately they often have social problems and end up in war. Therefore their economies are least developed, and the people enjoy minimal freedom.

So How Does Singapore Fare?

By the old definition (the political one) Singapore was not a “First World” country, it did not support either side during the cold war. Rather, Singapore followed a policy of strategic non alignment; which means it sat on the fence and looked on from a distance.

However, Singapore prospered during that time; war is business after all, and those who know how to do business during war usually end up the richest.

By the new definition however, Singapore is a First World country by any and every possible metric.

Singapore Has An Excellent Economy

Singapore’s economy is described as a highly developed market economy. Singapore attracts a lot of foreign investments, and has a highly skilled work force. Singapore is one of the countries with the highest GDP Per Capita in the world – its figure of $72,794 is almost twice the GDP Per Capita of Japan.

Singapore has rich citizens; aside from the 298,650 millionaires in the country, about 80% of the population own their homes.

Stable Government

Singapore is a very stable society; it has a prime minister, and a parliament. The country also has a president who has executive powers which he wields on the advice of Cabinet. The Constitution of the republic is the supreme law, and the rule of law is sacrosanct.

Singapore does not tolerate corruption, and the press is free. All these combine to make the country a great place to live because there is no fear of too much power falling into the hands of any one person.

Free Speech

Freedom of speech is an important component of the Singaporean society; it is guaranteed by law. The speaker’s corner is a symbolic creation in the Hong Lim Park; it provides a public demonstration, and free speech area where debates can be held, and people may air their views on controversial issues.

Human Rights

Singapore has a high regard for human rights; the people are granted all the protections from all forms of abuse including human trafficking, sexual slavery and so on. Very strong punishments are meted out to those who infringe upon the rights of others; even the capital punishment is legal and enforced in Singapore; although it is reserved to extremely heinous crimes.



Singapore is a first world country; it is rich, advanced, and well governed. Singapore has had a proper view of international politics; it has never allowed sentiments to get in the way of advancement or the prosperity it seeks for its citizens. Even now, Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea; it is one of the very few countries to do so.