7 Reasons Why Germany Is Not A Third World Country

Ask someone what the ‘third world’ is and they’ll likely describe countries affected by extreme poverty and humanitarian crises. In fact, the term was originally used to describe nations during the Cold War that were not aligned to either the American-led Capitalist bloc or the Soviet bloc. However, since the 1990s, the term ‘third world’ has come to be used to describe countries with widespread destitution.

So, if ‘third world’ actually just means how poor a country is, rather than its international political positions or it’s geography, is Germany a third world country? Definitely not, and let us explain why…

1. Germany Is A Wealthy Country

A first reason why Germany is not a third world country is because it is rich.

A key characteristic of countries in the third world is that they are poor. Third world countries have high rates of poverty and often millions of people live in destitution. Germany is not a third world country because German people are wealthy by global standards.

Germany is one of the richest countries in the world. The per capita income in Germany is 55,220 dollars. This means on average Germans are the fourth wealthiest in the world. This is a clear indication that the country is not in the third world.

Although there are poor people in Germany, in general Germans enjoy a high standard of living. Poor people in Germany are able to receive benefits from the state including financial assistance, free healthcare, access to education and support with housing. Generally, people living in poverty in Germany still live above the levels of extreme poverty found in the third world.

Extreme poverty and destitution are major factors in third world countries. As a rich country with a good standard of living, Germany lacks widespread extreme poverty, and this is why it is not a third world country.

2. The Country Has A Developed Economy

A second reason why Germany is not a third world country is because it has a highly developed economy.

Third world countries do not have developed economies. They have low economic growth, and their economic outputs remain limited. The industrial bases for third world economies is generally agriculture. Third world countries also lack the capacities to manufacture advanced products or refine their agricultural outputs before they reach the global market.

Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world. It is also the largest economy in Europe. The German economy is highly developed, and this is another reason why the country is not in the third world.

The economy of Germany is highly diversified. Major German industries include the automotive sector, mechanical engineering, chemical and electrical industries, tourism, and agriculture. German manufacturing is renowned around the world. The diversity of the German economy means it does not rely on just a few sectors for the country to be prosperous. This is different to countries in the third world.

Countries in the third world are underdeveloped. A key reason why Germany is not a third world country is because is has a highly developed economy.

3. German Has Some Of The Best Infrastructure In The World

A third reason why Germany is not a third world country is because of the country’s infrastructure.

Third world countries have bad infrastructure – the roads, bridges, railways, airports, tele-communication networks and utilities are in poor condition and in need of updating and repair. In third world nations it is hard to move people and goods around the country and many people are unable to access key utilities like electricity, water, and heating.

Germany has some of the best infrastructure in the world. The country has a renowned road network linking all towns, villages, and cities. Germany also has an extensive rail network that allows both people and goods to move around the country with relative ease. The country’s utilities provide water and power to all households. Germany also has high-speed internet and a high-quality phone networks. The quality of the infrastructure in Germany is a major reason why it is not in the third world.

Infrastructure is key to a country’s prosperity. The lack of developed infrastructure in third world countries is a major factor that makes them poor. Germany is often ranked as being one of the countries in the world with the best infrastructure, and this is why it is not in the third world.

4. The Country Has A Good Healthcare System

Another reason why Germany is not a third world country is because of the country’s good healthcare system.

Countries in the third world are poor. The governments of third world nations are unable to generate the revenue needed to provide quality healthcare across their countries. This means in many third world countries; people are unable to access the medical assistance they need or are forced to pay private providers if they can afford to. Healthcare in third world countries is also often unevenly distributed, with people in remote and rural areas struggling more to access quality care.

Germany has one of the highest quality healthcare systems in the world. All Germans have access to the medical care they need. Germany’s social security system means people on low incomes or without the money to pay can still receive the medical treatments they require. Across Germany the healthcare system is also accessible, even in rural and remote locations.

The child mortality rate in Germany is 3.2 deaths in every 1,000 births. This way above the rate in many third world countries, which is closer to 37 deaths for every 1,000 birth. The life expectancy in Germany, at 80.9 years, is also way above that of third world countries, which is below 65.

The quality, and accessibility, of Germany’s healthcare system is a major reason why it is not a third world country.

5. Germany Children Receive Quality Education

A further reason why Germany is not a third world country is because of the quality of its education system.

As well as not having the resources to provide quality healthcare to their populations, third world countries also lack the funds to offer schooling to all of their children. Millions of children in third world countries do not go to school. Those that do have access to education also often receive sub-standard teaching. Like with access to healthcare, in third world countries poor, rural, and marginalised communities often especially struggle to send their children to quality schools.

Germany has one of the top education systems in the world. All children throughout Germany receive an education for free. All children in Germany go to a school from ages six to eighteen. Higher education is also accessible for young people in Germany. University education is subsidised by the state and affordable. The country has some of the top universities in the world, including the University of Munich, Heidelberg University, and the University of Bonn.

The fact that all German children have access to quality schooling, combined with the country’s top rated higher education sector, shows that Germany is not a third world country.

6. Germany Is A Democracy

Another reason why Germany is not a third world country is because it is a strong democracy.

Third world countries struggle to install and retain democratic systems of government. They are plagued with coups, illegal seizures of power and elections that are not free and fair. A key characteristic of third world countries is that they lack transparent and accountable institutions, and many lack the rule of law.

West Germany has been a successful democracy since 1949. Following World War Two, Germany was divided between Capitalist West and Communist East. West Germany quickly developed democratic institutions. In 1990, when Germany was reunited, democracy was expanded to the East of the country. For the last seven decades, most of Germany has maintained strong democratic principles.  

Although Germany has a history of authoritarian governments, in fact the country today is a strong example of modern liberal democracy. This is major reason why it is not a third world country.

7. The Country Is Stable

A final reason why Germany is not a third world country is because it is stable.

Countries in the third world are often plagued with instability. They regularly experience political and economic crises. Governments in the third world also lack the resources to address crises when they occur. Third world countries are usually more susceptible to natural disasters, conflicts, and humanitarian crises. Many third world countries also face external interference and are unable to deter foreign powers from involving themselves in their affairs.

Germany is a highly stable nation. The country does see protests, industrial disputes, and political disagreements; however, these do not affect the general workings of the German state. Germany as a nation is able to resolve its issues through dialogue and the democratic political process.  There is no risk of Germany falling into civil conflict and the country does not risk being invaded or heavily interfered with by other countries.

The stability of Germany as a nation is a major reason why the country is not in the third world.

Want To Learn More?

If you’re interested in Mexico, and whether the country is powerful or not, we recommend the book The Oxford History of Mexico edited by William Beezley and Michael Meyer. We think it’s the best history of the country going all the way back to the Aztecs up to the present day modern Mexican state. The link is to the paperback on Amazon.com.

For those wanting a shorter book on Mexico, with a concise account of what makes the country powerful, pick-up a copy of A Short History of Mexico by John Patrick McHenry. It’s highly readable and great for those with a casual interest in the country’s history and power base. The link is to the paperback on Amazon.com

Finally, the Mexican Revolution was perhaps the most important event in recent Mexican history. Much of the country’s modern power, as well as it’s limitations, stem from this period of its history. We think the book The Mexican Revolution: A Very Short Introduction by Alan Knight is one of the best books on the subject. The link it also to Amazon.com.


Duncan is the founder of Global Affairs Explained. With a fascination for international relations. global events, history and geo-politics, Duncan established Global Affairs Explained to provide concise guides and original research on current and historical events.

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