7 Reasons Russia Is Not A Third World Country

Russia is by far the largest country in the world. It also has a history of being a global superpower. However, since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Russia has somewhat lost its status. Russia went through a major economic crisis in the 1990s, which cemented in many people’s minds the view that Russia was a poor country.

The third world is a term first used in the 1950s to describe countries that were non-aligned during the Cold War. However, since the end of the Cold War the phrase has become synonymous with poor countries with high levels of extreme poverty. So, if Russia fell on hard times recently, could that mean that the country is actually a third world nation? Not at all, and let us explain…

1. Russia Has A Large Economy

A first reason why Russia is not a third world country is because of the size of its economy.

Third world countries are categorised by their small economies. They lack the industrial base needed for their economies to grow. Third world countries also do not have dynamic or inclusive economies, meaning that the economic activity they do have is often not evenly disturbed. Third world economies rely on low value-add sectors such as agriculture or resource extraction.

Russia has a GDP of 1.7 trillion USD. This makes it the 11th largest economy in the world. Russia’s economy may not be as industrialized or dynamic as many first world nations, however the country’s utilization of technologies and advanced industrial techniques means that it is far from being a third world country. Although Russia does have large resource extraction and agricultural sectors, the country also has significant economic sectors including computer sciences, arms, transportation and manufacturing. This breadth of the Russian economies means the country is not in the third world.

2. Russians Are Rich By Global Standards

A second reason why Russia is not a third world country is because Russians are generally wealthy.

People in third world countries are poor. They lack quality jobs that can provide them with a good income. This means they often struggle to ensure their basic needs are met, such as housing, food, education and healthcare. The majority of people in third world countries live difficult lives. A very high proportion of people in third world countries live in extreme poverty – defined as living on less than 1.90 USD a day.

Russia is not a third world country because the average Russian is relatively well-off by global standards. Russia has a per capita income of 32,070 USD – this is average amount a Russian earns in a year. This is much higher than in a third world country. The average Russian can ensure that their basic needs are met. The poverty rate in Russia is around 10%, which is much lower than in third world countries. Even people living in poverty in Russia rarely fit the definition of extreme poverty. This is another indicator that Russia is not a third world country.

3. Russia Has Good Infrastructure

A third reason why Russia is not a third world country is because of its good infrastructure.

Third world countries lack the funds needed to build the infrastructure they require. Infrastructure is the physical structures that a nation needs to function. It includes roads, railways, airports, utilities and tele-communication networks. Third world countries are characterised by their dilapidated and outdated infrastructure, which is often in need of maintenance and modernisation.

Russia has a good infrastructure throughout most of the country. Admittedly, Russia is absolutely enormous, so there will be some remote areas where infrastructure is lacking. However, across the major population canters, Russia has developed and quality infrastructure that allows people, goods and information to move around as needed. The fact that Russia has good infrastructure is a clear sign it is not a third world country.

4. Russia Is Politically Stable

Another reason why Russia is not a third world country is because it is politically stable.

Third world countries are plagued by political crises. They lack functioning institutions, as well as often operating political systems. Third world countries, in general, lack the key foundations that might allow them to prosper, including property rights, secure banking systems and business regulations. These factors are key in ensuring that many third world countries remain poor.

Russia may not have the strong institutions and accountable political systems that many first world democracies have. However, it cannot be denied that Russia has a functioning state, and that the elements needed to ensure political and economic stability are in-place. The key political characteristics that relate to third world countries just don’t relate to Russia. This is why it is not in the third world.

5. Russians Have Access To Good Education

One reason why Russia is not a third world country is because of its education system.

Governments in third world countries lack revenue. This means they struggle to provide public services to their citizens, including education. Millions of children across the third world do not go to school. Either parents must pay for schooling, which many cannot afford, or in rural and remote areas there often is no school. Children in the third world that do receive an education often receive poor quality schooling.

Every child in Russia has access to education. School is free in Russia from ages seven to eighteen. Even in rural areas of Russia schooling is provided. Russia’s education system is generally of a good quality, and children receive an adequate education. These are all signs Russia is not a third world country. Many young people in Russia also go on to universities. This is another factor that makes Russia different to third world countries, where universities are often not accessible.

6. Russians Can Receive Quality Healthcare

A further reason why Russia is not a third world country is because Russians can access quality healthcare.

As we said before, third world country governments lack the funds needed to run good quality public services. This applies to healthcare as much as it does to education. Many people in third world countries must pay for their own healthcare; if they cannot afford it, they go without. This means that healthcare outcomes in third world countries are often poor.

Russia has a good healthcare system and generally Russian people can access medical assistance when they need it. Few people in Russia do not have access to healthcare at all. Russia’s healthcare system is also precent in more rural areas, which is often not the case in third world countries. The fact that Russia has a quality healthcare system is a key sign that it is not in the third world.

7. Russia Was Considered A Second World Nation

A final reason why Russia is not a third world country is actually because, originally, it was considered to be in the second world.

The term ‘third world’ was first used to describe the American-aligned capitalist nations – the ‘first world’, the Soviet-aligned communist nations – the ‘second world’, and the non-aligned nations of the ‘third world’. It’s really only since the end of the Cold War that the phrase ‘third world’ has been used to describe countries that are incredibly poor.

Today, the term ‘first world’ and ‘third world’ are still quite commonly used. Since the end of communism in Europe, no one has really talked about the ‘second world’. However, a big reason why people would say Russia is not a third world nation, is because it was originally considered a second world country.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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