Is Turkey A First World Country?

Turkey is one of the few countries without an actual continent; some of it lies in Western Asia, and another part of it lies in Southeast Europe. This is an old country with different cultural influences some of which date back to ancient times. Turkey’s neighbors include Georgia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Greece. In many ways, it is the most developed country in the region.

With warm currents coming in from the Mediterranean Sea, this country has the perfect weather for tourism. It has a population of 85 million, and a land area of 783,356 km2. Turkey is the first in the region when it comes to political power and influence.

With all the noticeable influence Turkey wields, and the obvious economic advantages it has, there is some contention about its exact economic classification.

Is Turkey A First World Country?

Turkey is classified as an emerging market. Before going into what that means, it is important to do some ground work about the exact meaning(s) of the term “First World.” This is to clear up the confusion arising from mixed usage of the term which has happened through the years.

It was during the Cold War that this term was invented. It had an ideological meaning at that time; it was used to describe countries that supported the United States as it fought against the Soviet Union and its allies. First World meant countries that accepted capitalism, and opposed communism.

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, countries that supported communism were known as “Second World” countries.

An important difference between the two classifications is the fact that First World countries gave their citizens more freedoms, while Second World countries shut their citizens behind an iron curtain.

The New Meaning

The term was popular enough that it had to be given a different meaning with the conclusion of the Cold War. Now, the phrase is used to describe rich countries with strong economies. Of course it is difficult to have a good economy without social and political stability.

A by product of that economic growth is the emission of carbon into the atmosphere, which causes First World countries to have high carbon footprints.

Industrialization and economic growth tend to move hand in hand; industries like manufacturing tend to employ people en masse; and that reduces unemployment and eliminates poverty. This causes the people to have more money with which to afford whatever luxuries they want, and the spending power with which to drive up other aspects of the economy.

First World countries of today still retain the idea of freedom to the people; press freedom, as well as freedom of expression are mostly guaranteed by law.

First World countries tend to be located in Europe or North America; this may have something to do with the fact that they embraced industrialization earlier, and so had the money with which to develop their countries.

On the other side of today’s spectrum; Second World countries are those with developing economies. They have industry, but are not yet industrialized. These countries may still grapple with the problem of poverty, but the majority of its citizens should live above poverty, and have steady employment.

Second World countries which are on the road towards industrialization may be called Emerging Markets. This is the most common term used by investors to describe countries that they deem to be ripe for investment.

The last classification is “Third World” countries; this is the phrase used to describe countries that have minimal infrastructure, least developed economies, and poor citizens. Usually, these countries are located in Sub Saharan Africa; and they have just come out of war.

Unstable social and political climates do not encourage investments in industry because investors have to spend a lot of money on machinery, construction, and training of personnel. They cannot put such finances in places where they can potentially lose everything.

How Is Turkey Classified?

As per the old definition of the phrase Turkey qualified as a First World country because it gave strategic support to the US during the Cold War.

By the new definition, however, Turkey is not classified as a First World country because it does not have the level of industrialization necessary to fall into that category. However, Turkey is called an Emerging Market because it has nearly attained that status.

Here are some things about Turkey.

Turkey has a newly developed economy; its GDP per Capita is around $40,883, and while the unemployment rate is somewhat high at 13.6% , the country still has managed to grow its middle-class from 13% to 41% within the last 20 years. Automobile and shipbuilding are important sectors of this country’s economy.

Technology plays an important role in Turkey, and receives a lot of investment because the government’s policy is clearly to make turkey a power-house of technological advancement, and to use this to drive the economy.

Turkey has built its key infrastructure to an advanced level; its road network as well as rail system and airports are all top notch, and they play an important role in keeping the country moving. This movement drives the economy; Turkish Airlines serves more international destinations than any Airline in the world.



Turkey is a newly developed economy; it has many similarities with the First World countries, even though it has not yet attained that status. Turkey is a very attractive place for investment because the local economy is good enough to sustain any market with a GDP Per Capita in excess of $40,000.