Is Ukraine A First World Country?

Ukraine has some of the most fertile lands in the whole of Europe. The country had a lot of things going in its favor prior to the events of 2022; and still has a lot of potential, which will be built upon as soon as stability is restored to the region.

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, and before the conflict it had a population of 41 million people. This eastern European country has a historical and geographical closeness to Russia. Nevertheless, it has tried to build a progressive, liberal, democratic society.

Ukraine has been in the news for the past few years, and as a result there is a lot of curiosity surrounding this country. One of the questions commonly asked is:

Is Ukraine A First World Country?

The answer is no, by the old and new definitions of the phrase, Ukraine is not a First World country. What is the meaning of “old and new definitions?”

The phrase “First World” has meant different things at different times, and those things did not exactly correlate. Therefore, whenever a question is asked about whether a country is a First World or not, serious thought has to be given as to the context, and what exact they are talking about.

First World- The Old Meaning

The phrase “First World” first came into existence during the Cold War. It was used to describe countries that supported the US and its allies as they fought against the Soviet Union.

Mostly, First World countries were former British Colonies including (USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and some countries of Western Europe.

First World countries typically had Capitalist Economies, and free, democratic societies.

On The Other Side

On the other side of the coin there were countries called Second World countries. These were countries that supported the Soviet Union as it fought against the US and its allies.

Second World countries were usually Communist Countries because Communism was the ideology which that side sought to uphold and defend.

Sadly though, most of the Second World countries were police states; they gave little or no freedoms to their citizens.

First World Countries Today

With the conclusion of the Cold War, the phrase “First World,” was assigned a new meaning- this time an economic one. First World now means rich countries with stable politics, steady economies, rich citizens, high levels of industrialization, and high life expectancy.

First World Countries are essentially the same as during the Cold War; they include Germany, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

They have high carbon footprints which is a direct relationship with their highly industrialized economies.

First World Countries can trace their economic success to their stable political terrain. When there is minimal risk of social crisis or war, then investors can be persuaded to build factories and industries which provide jobs and increase the general wealth of the country.

These countries also have high literacy rates; which means that there are skilled workers available to work in the industries and therefore contribute to the economy.

How Does Ukraine Fare?

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and so it would not be a First World country by the old definition. In fact, Ukraine would be the very definition of the Second World country due to its political and geographical association with the USSR.

By the New Definition Ukraine is not a First World country either. The country is described as a developing country, on the scale of South Africa or Nigeria. Ukraine would therefore be classified as a second world country.

Developing Countries like Ukraine are sometimes called “Emerging Markets.” That is a very popular term among investors; they use it to describe countries whose markets and economies are ripe for investments. Whenever that term is used one can conclude that investors are quite certain that whatever investments they make into that country will not be lost, but will be profitable.

Second World Countries

Other economists prefer to call Ukraine a Second World country; this is the step directly below First World countries on the world’s economic ladder.

Some countries that fall under this classification include those East Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Selected countries in Sub Saharan Africa also fall within this classification.

Third World Countries

These are countries that fall below the second world countries on the global economic ladder; these are the least developed countries; usually in and out of war; and lacking basic infrastructure.

These countries cannot invite investors because their countries are not safe for investments. Years of war must have disrupted their education system; meaning that there is a lack of skilled workers to man whatever industries are set up.

To make matters worse; poor populations cannot afford to consume whatever products are made, and products made in poor countries cannot be consumed in rich countries.

The only option for these poor countries is mining and extraction of raw materials which are taken away in their raw state; to be used for manufacturing in developed countries.



Ukraine is not a First World country; it is actually a developing country or a Second World country. As mentioned earlier; there are plenty of potentials in the country which will be explored as soon as calm is restored.

Hopefully, Ukraine can continue to play an important role in the development of the world’s economy, especially in the area of food security.