Is Taiwan A First World Country?

Taiwan has the whole world by storm with its rapid development. There are few other countries that have been able to replicate this kind of economic transformation, and while it shows that economic turn-arounds are possible, it also shows that politics and economics are not always correlated.

Taiwan is officially a Special Territory of China; this small city state has at different times belonged to The Dutch, The Spanish, The Japanese, and of course the Chinese. Even though Taiwan enjoys some level of autonomy, the country’s recent economic miracle may have caused certain mechanisms to be put in motion which will force closer ties with China.

This post will provide specific details about the state of the economy of Taiwan, and provide an answer to the question:

Is Taiwan A First World Country?

The short answer is Yes, Taiwan is considered a “First World” country. However, special care is taken when making reference to Taiwan as a “country.” This is because it is officially a territory of the Republic Of China.

Taiwan is not recognized by any country or territory- it is essentially a Chinese island which has been allowed to develop its own economy, and build its own society.

There is some history to the phrase “First World,” in fact most people who ask that question don’t even know exactly what they are asking. The phrase “First World” has been assigned a couple of different meanings as you will find below.

“First World”-The Original Meaning

The Phrase “First World” was invented during the Cold War as a way of describing countries that aligned themselves with the US and its allies as they fought against the Soviet Union.

This was a political coinage; and Capitalism was the goal. Since Capitalist countries that supported the US and its allies were called First World countries, the natural thing was for countries on the opposite side of the divide to be assigned the title “Second World” countries.

In fairness, the coinage came from learned people from the “First World,” and even if they were justified due to the economic realities present on both sides at the time, it still seemed that the coinage was somewhat unfair.

Another important distinction is the fact that “First World” countries had more freedoms for their citizens than “Second World” countries.  Second world countries were often militarized countries, and citizens often lived in fear of their governments.

“First World”- The New Meaning    

With the conclusion of the Cold War, a new meaning was assigned to the phrase “First World;” and this time it was a more economic one. First World countries came to mean rich countries with stable democracies and thriving economies. “First World Countries” now means industrialized countries with highly developed societies.

A by product of industrialization is high energy consumption. Developed countries usually have huge carbon footprints, as they need the energy to power their industries.

First World Countries usually have high levels of education for their citizens, social structures to provide for the people, low mortality rates, and citizens that are generally happy. Press Freedom is also quite important; this is often a sign of an advanced, peaceful society- and that is something that investors generally look out for.

Economies thrive on investments, and investors tend to go where the risk of social unrest is minimal. Wars destroy investments like natural disasters.

First World countries are mostly those in Western Europe, as well as former British Colonies such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Second World Countries Today

Second World Countries today are those that have economies that have shown the potential for growth. They are probably not as industrialized as First World countries, but they certainly have some level of industrialization.

Second World countries usually have poverty as a problem, but poverty can usually be defeated with investments which can provide jobs, and improve the lives of the people.

Some Second World countries are described as “Emerging Markets.” This is a technical term that shows that potential has been spotted in a country, and that investments there will likely pass off in the long run.

Second World countries may be located in Eastern Europe, Asia, North Africa among other places.

Third World Countries

Are at the bottom of the pyramid; they are the least developed countries with economies that are very ordinary. Third World Countries are usually in Africa, and they also exist in Asia.

Once again the correlation between politics and economics comes to the fore; many of these Third World Countries are presently involved in some form of armed conflict or the other.

Some of these countries are coming out of war situations, and so they cannot yet attract investors who will establish industries so as to provide jobs and reduce poverty.



So as you have seen; Taiwan is a First World Country by the present definition. Taiwan’s development is so remarkable, it has been described as the Taiwanese Economic Miracle. The territory now rubs shoulders with some of the most developed economies in the world; and has so much potential for even more development.