Most of us associate Egypt with its ancient folklore, the Pyramids, and its vast deserts. Of course, there is so much more to the country than its ancient history. But is Egypt a third-world country?
Egypt is considered to be a third-world country when comparing it to countries on other continents, but it is prosperous compared to many other countries in Africa. That said, there is economic instability within Egypt that leads many to believe it’s the third world. In fact, it would be more accurate to consider Egypt a developing country, though even that definition can be misconstrued.
With a rich history spanning millennia, Egypt has seen its fair share of struggle but is also vibrant in culture, tourism, and diversity.
Is Egypt A Third World Country?
There are two different definitions of what constitutes a third-world country. Moreover, countries tend to no longer be classified as first, second, or third-world, given that the terminology no longer suits an accurate depiction of any country. That aside, Egypt would be considered a third-world country based on the previous terminology.
That said, if Egypt can project a continuous uphill climb related to economic improvements, they could easily see themselves coming out from that particular designation. It remains to be seen whether or not the improvements they have implemented are going to benefit the poorest people in the country in the long term, as this would need to be done to increase the quality of life for more people in Egypt.
The Egyptian government has had a difficult time ensuring adequate coverage of services and basic needs for those who are suffering the most, and in some instances where there have been extra supplies, they have not been distributed properly to those in most need.
Is Egypt An Underdeveloped, Developing, Or Developed Country?
Egypt is a developing country and has been developing for quite a few years. The last twenty years or so have seen a plethora of reforms to diversify their financial strategies to become more widespread. While Egypt used to have an economy that was centralized, it is now one driven by market trends.
Telecommunications and agriculture have been two of Egypt’s most profitable industries. Agriculture has been it’s most lucrative over the long term, as the country has supplied other countries with commodities such as cotton, corn, tobacco, beans, and wheat. Unfortunately, Egypt has been experiencing desertification for many years, which is drying up some of the once fertile land.
Egypt is also heavily involved in the textile industry, with textiles, clothing, and fabrics being some of the country’s largest exports. The industry is also one of the country’s largest employers overall. Europe receives quite a bit of exports from Egypt, since it’s able to produce a lot quickly and the country is close by.
Egypt is also a producer of natural gas and petroleum, though crude oil supply has been in a decline for a few decades. The country also has a handsome supply of gold, iron, and phosphates. Additionally, Egypt manufactures for the automobile industry, produces a lot of nitrogen fertilizer, and home appliances.
Why Egypt Would Be Considered A Developing Country
As many know, Egypt has experienced major shifts in economic success for many years throughout its expansive history. While there is no particular standard for what makes a developing country, the most common associations with these informal classifications would be income and economy. To compare Egypt to a Western country would not be appropriate, as they are not the standard for being first world or developed.
There is a lot of poverty in Egypt, and it has been difficult for the government to enact any policy to change the unfortunate situations of many of its citizens. Many of the industries in Egypt have also seen ebbs and flows, making it difficult for many industries to grow enough to expand and employ more people.
It is not for a lack of trying; the Egyptian governments that have been in power for years have made efforts to improve the economic situation, not only for the government, but for the people living in Egypt. For now, there is still an obvious inequality when looking at income, wealth, and opportunity available in Egypt.
The Economy In Egypt
As mentioned, the economy has seen a lot of change in Egypt recently. The government put a lot of work and effort into overhauling their economic systems to make them more beneficial to the country as a whole, rather than for a few participants. As of now, Egypt’s economy is the second strongest in Africa, and is the 35th strongest in the world.
The past twenty years have seen some of the biggest changes in Egypt’s governmental approach to the economy, especially after getting out of revolutionary rule. The country has struggled with being able to produce enough food and other essentials to keep people fed and well-kept, having to reach out for foreign aid previously.
Some of the biggest reforms enacted in Egypt to help foster a healthier economy have been tax reforms and remittance from Egyptians working overseas and sending money home to their families. Additionally, the country has increased its quantity of exports and the range of items it can now export.
An increase in wages, especially for the public sector in Egypt, have also greatly benefited the economy, giving people more money to keep in circulation within the country. That said, the reforms haven’t been enacted perfectly, and they have received some criticism over the years.
The History Of Egypt’s Economy
Despite the position Egypt’s economy is in now, things were not always running as smoothly as they are currently. For instance, Egypt tried to industrialize alongside many other areas of the world in the 1800s, but it just didn’t work. At the time, one of the main exports for Egypt was cotton.
Egypt managed to pivot towards what they did best, which was cotton and sugar production, and that helped them regain some stability financially. This was until the early 1900s, when they started running low on available cotton to harvest among other things. Things ended up leading to a financial crisis in 1952, at which point, revolutionary remige Free Officers took over.
The Free Officers made changes to the economic structure of Egypt, making it centralized. There would be ebbs and flows regarding the country’s financial situation for many years after these changes. There would be periods of crisis, then periods of reform, only to fall back into another crisis.
While Egypt’s economy is now in decent shape, that’s not to say that there aren’t other issues that lead to its reference as a third world or developing country. There is income disparity throughout the country, meaning that some people go without and would be considered impoverished.
Egypt is found in Africa, with a very hot and arid climate. The lifeblood of the country is the Nile River, with much of the population living in close proximity to the river. Egypt is also connected to Asia through both the Suez Canal and the Isthmus of Suez. It is considered to be the most populous Arab country, and is one of the most populated countries in Africa.
A very large portion of the country is covered by desert and sand. Egypt tends to experience the most rain in the winter, and other seasons tend to stay fairly dry and hot. The country barely experiences any snowfall, though some areas of Mount Sinai may get a sprinkle at higher elevations.
There are many beautiful areas within Egypt, making it a very popular tourist destination for those who want to learn about history while sightseeing. However, pockets of Egypt do experience some violence and strife on occasion, as with any other country. There are some very old practices that still exist within Egyptian law that are no longer practiced around the world.
The country is not as progressive as the West in certain areas, especially regarding women, the freedom of religious expression, and marriage equality. That’s not to say Egypt as a country takes the same stances, but in terms of governmental say in these social aspects of life, there are very rigid rules.
Egypt has had a varied history in terms of prosperity and poverty, and the government has had to do a lot of restructuring and planning in order to try and recover from several crises over hundreds of years. As of now, Egypt is doing relatively well, though conditions for many of the poorer areas could use vast improvement, as could some of the social structures in the country.
So is Egypt a third world country? In some respects, it can be classified as such. It has been developing for quite some time, and appears to be continuing on that path towards developing even more. As long as Egypt, as a country, does not lose its sense of hope towards a brighter future, the country should continue towards an incline for years to come.
About the author: Marta Kovachek graduated from the university with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.