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Is Malaysia A Third World Country?

Is Malaysia A Third World Country

Pockets of Asia have experienced various barriers to development, especially after the Asian economic crisis in the 1990s. Malaysia is one such country that experienced this. So many years later, is Malaysia a third-world country?

Malaysia could, at one time, be considered a third-world country, but an expansion in industry and smart economic decisions have helped them rise above that distinction. As of now, Malaysia has been showing a substantial growth in its workforce, its exports, and its ability to provide income opportunities to its citizens. 

The pandemic did cause some strain on resource development and poverty levels, but that hasn’t knocked Malaysia completely off track in terms of working towards enhanced improvement. 

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Is Malaysia A Third World Country?

Malaysia would not be classified as a third-world country. Based on the most modern definitions of first, second, and third world, it would be more appropriate to call Malaysia a second world country. The country has made a lot of progress and they appear to be staying on an upward trajectory. 

The Malaysian government currently in place has made it a goal to continue to innovate, expand their private sector, and help people overcome financial constraints to improve their quality of life and economic health. Prior to these successes, Malaysia experienced a few centuries of being owned by multiple forces throughout the world. 

Malaysia is a culturally diverse country in Asia, situated between Singapore and Thailand, and has a very long history. Throughout the country’s history, it has been populated by multiple cultures and has been reigned over by international forces. Battles have been fought throughout history to take ownership of Malaysia before it became an independent nation. 

Malaysia is also a peaceful country by way of international relations. They have remained very neutral on many matters, and do not take sides in international conflict. Malaysia has participated in peacekeeping missions, as well as helping to create peaceful alliances with other Asian countries.

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Is Malaysia An Underdeveloped, Developing, Or Developed Country?

Malaysia would be considered a developing country, though it’s estimated that it won’t take long for Malaysia to become a developed country. Malaysia has not always been this way, but after becoming an independent nation in the 1950s, the country made ample changes to how it would generate economic prosperity for its citizens and the country as a whole. 

One of the best strategies that aided in Malaysia’s growth is making their industry more diverse. The country would heavily rely on their agriculture sector, which is still running strong but is also finite. Malaysia decided it would also build up their service and industrial sectors to allow for more income potential, and this has worked in their favor. 

The Malaysian government takes a lot of inspiration from its previous British rule, and has established itself as a federal constitutional elective monarchy with an elected king as the head of government. That said, there are ministers and legislatures that make many of the decisions in the government. It’s a sophisticated system that works well for Malaysia, though as with every government, it is not perfect. 

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Is Malaysia A Low Income Or Middle Income Country?

At this point, Malaysia could be classified as a middle-income country, though it hasn’t always been that way. Some economists even project that Malaysia has the potential to elevate itself to a high-income country if the country continues along the same path of improvement. 

This status is based on a system created by the World Bank, where the gross national income per capita, or per person in the country based on midyear statistics, is reviewed. Before the pandemic, Malaysia was just shy of meeting the dollar amount to be considered a high income country. 

As a middle income country, Malaysia is on the cusp of being a developed country due to the expansion of industry, the healthy economy, and the open market system it has enacted. From a large scale, macroeconomic standpoint, Malaysia’s economy is actually growing at a better rate than many developed countries. It is not yet considered developed because the overall economy has not been on an incline long-term. 

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The Economy In Malaysia

Malaysia has been able to build trade relationships that have been mutually beneficial, helping to not only bring essentials into the country, but allowing for growing income opportunities for citizens. As a result, the economy has been on a steady incline for over a decade, and it’s projected that this trend will continue in the future. 

As mentioned, the worldwide pandemic of 2020 and 2021 did slow down some of Malaysia’s efforts towards prosperity, but there is substantial potential for Malaysia to get back into financial shape through sustained efforts and the implementation of more long-term reform. 

The government of Malaysia has expressed their commitment to long term reform, and they seem to have a solid grasp on what action to take. One priority the government has stated is investing in more opportunities for citizens to earn income through creating more jobs that will benefit both the financial health of the government and the people of Malaysia. 

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How Malaysia Grew Its Economy 

The Malaysian government realized early in its independence that relying on agriculture and mining alone would not allow for the economy to grow, as growth would become stagnant after some time and resources would dwindle. While these two sectors have continued to help Malaysia develop, the government understood that they would have to add more industry to the county. 

Essentially, the more variety Malaysia could offer in terms of exports, the more income they could generate for the country. Growth of industry also meant more jobs for Malaysians, which would stimulate the economy through more people having disposable income. However, Malaysia realized that it would have to have more to rely on for economic prosperity than exports alone. 

The Malaysian government also understood that making the country more appealing to tourists would benefit the economy. It was hard for some time, as pollution and tragedies aboard Malaysian planes had deterred many tourists from the country for some time. However, after Malaysia made the country a great place to retire or move to long-term, tourism and expatriation has helped contribute positively to Malaysia’s more diverse economy. 

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The Quality Of Life In Malaysia 

The aforementioned opening of industry has led to growth in job potential and income opportunities for the citizens of Malaysia. Even though job creation has been bolstered, there is still income inequality in the country that has not been properly dealt with as of now. 

When the pandemic hit Malaysia, the impact was quite strong. There are still pockets of the country where people are in dire financial situations. The Malaysian government has recognized this, and there has been some discussion as to how the government will help its citizens emerge from the impacts of the pandemic. 

Based on the Human Development Index, Malaysia ranks at 55 of about 157 countries, which is promising. This index looks through vast criteria including what people do and don’t have access to, health care, education, and social support available. Malaysia still has improvements to be made in terms of education, social programs, and income opportunities for all of its citizens. 

Malaysia is made up of a diverse range of people from many cultures, and is also a popular place for retirees to move to. Cost of living in Malaysia is affordable, and there are many beaches and beautiful jungles to explore. 

Is Malaysia A Safe Country?

As with any country, Malaysia is not immune to unsafe areas, with some spots of the country being quieter and safer than others. The country does not have alarming statistics when it comes to targeted violence or violent crime. There is some risk to people in Malaysia getting mugged or pickpocketed, as theft of this nature is typically the most frequent crime to occur in the country. 

Malaysia is a popular destination for tourists, as traveling throughout the country is fairly inexpensive compared to other regions in Asia. It is not often that tourists are targeted in Malaysia, though it’s still wise to be mindful of your pockets if you’re traveling through more rural areas. 

Inclement weather can also be a cause for concern in Malaysia. Malaysia sees a lot of rain, and that rain can easily transform into flooding conditions and even landslides. The rainy season in Malaysia tends to span between October and February. 

Final Thoughts 

Is Malaysia a third-world country? It surely has risen out of conflict and being overtaken by outsiders to become a thriving, growing, independent nation. The country is also generally safe and the weather stays beautiful throughout most of the year. There are some unsafe areas and some unsafe weather conditions that occur sometimes, but the same can be said for any country. 

Malaysia still has some development and reformations to undergo, but the future of Malaysia is very promising. It is by no means a third world country, and the country’s potential to become a first-world country in the future is very promising. 

Human Development Index Ranking

HDI RankCountryHuman Development Index (HDI)Gross national income (GNI) per capita
1Norway166,494.00
2Ireland168,371.00
3Switzerland169,394.00
4Hong Kong, China (SAR)0.94962,985.00
5Iceland0.94954,682.00
6Germany0.94754,682.00
7Sweden0.94554,682.00
8Australia0.94454,682.00
9Netherlands0.94454,682.00
10Denmark0.9458,662.00
11Finland0.93848,511.00
12Singapore0.93888,155.00
13United Kingdom0.93246,071.00
14Belgium0.93152,085.00
15New Zealand0.93140,799.00
16Canada0.92948,527.00
17United States0.92663,826.00
18Austria0.91956,197.00
19Israel0.91940,187.00
20Japan0.91942,932.00
21Liechtenstein0.917131,032.00
22Slovenia0.91738,080.00
23Korea (Republic of)0.91643,044.00
24Luxembourg0.91672,712.00
25Spain0.90440,975.00
26France0.90147,173.00
27Czechia0.938,109.00
28Malta0.89539,555.00
29Estonia0.89236,019.00
30Italy0.89242,776.00
31United Arab Emirates0.8967,462.00
32Greece0.88830,155.00
33Cyprus0.88738,207.00
34Lithuania0.88235,799.00
35Poland0.8831,623.00
36Andorra0.86856,000.00
37Latvia0.86630,282.00
38Portugal0.86433,967.00
39Slovakia0.8632,113.00
40Hungary0.85431,329.00
41Saudi Arabia0.85447,495.00
42Bahrain0.85242,522.00
43Chile0.85123,261.00
44Croatia0.8528,070.00
45Qatar0.84892,418.00
46Argentina0.84521,190.00
47Brunei Darussalam0.83863,965.00
48Montenegro0.82921,399.00
49Romania0.82829,497.00
50Palau0.82619,317.00
51Kazakhstan0.82522,857.00
52Russian Federation0.82426,157.00
53Belarus0.82318,546.00
54Turkey0.8227,701.00
55Uruguay0.81720,064.00
56Bulgaria0.81623,325.00
57Panama0.81529,558.00
58Bahamas0.81433,747.00
59Barbados0.81414,936.00
60Oman0.81325,944.00
61Georgia0.81214,429.00
62Costa Rica0.8118,486.00
63Malaysia0.8127,534.00
64Kuwait0.80658,590.00
65Serbia0.80617,192.00
66Mauritius0.80425,266.00
67Seychelles0.79626,903.00
68Trinidad and Tobago0.796 26,231.00
69Albania0.795 13,998.00
70Cuba0.783 8,621.00
71Iran 0.783 12,447.00
72Sri Lanka0.782 12,707.00
73Bosnia and Herzegovina0.78 14,872.00
74Grenada0.779 15,641.00
75Mexico0.779 19,160.00
76Saint Kitts and Nevis0.779 25,038.00
77Ukraine0.779 13,216.00
78Antigua and Barbuda0.778 20,895.00
79Peru0.777 12,252.00
80Thailand0.777 17,781.00
81Armenia0.776 13,894.00
82North Macedonia0.774 15,865.00
83Colombia0.767 14,257.00
84Brazil0.765 14,263.00
85China0.761 16,057.00
86Ecuador0.759 11,044.00
87Saint Lucia0.759 14,616.00
88Azerbaijan0.756 13,784.00
89Dominican Republic0.756 17,591.00
90Moldova0.75 13,664.00
91Algeria0.748 11,174.00
92Lebanon0.744 14,655.00
93Fiji0.743 13,009.00
94Dominica0.742 11,884.00
95Maldives0.74 17,417.00
96Tunisia0.74 10,414.00
97Saint Vincent and the Grenadines0.738 12,378.00
98Suriname0.738 14,324.00
99Mongolia0.737 10,839.00
100Botswana0.735 16,437.00
101Jamaica0.734 9,319.00
102Jordan0.729 9,858.00
103Tonga0.728 12,224.00
104Libya0.725 6,365.00
105Uzbekistan0.724 15,688.00
106Bolivia0.72 7,142.00
107Indonesia0.718 8,554.00
108Philippines0.718 11,459.00
109Belize0.718 9,778.00
110Samoa0.716 6,382.00
111Turkmenistan0.715 6,309.00
112Venezuela0.711 7,045.00
113South Africa0.709 12,129.00
114Palestine0.708 6,417.00
115Egypt0.707 11,466.00
116Marshall Islands0.704 5,039.00
117Viet Nam0.704 7,433.00
118Gabon0.70313,930.00
119Kyrgyzstan0.697 4,864.00
120Morocco0.686 7,368.00
121Guyana0.682 9,455.00
122Iraq0.674 10,801.00
123El Salvador0.673 8,359.00
124Tajikistan0.668 3,954.00
125Cabo Verde0.665 7,019.00
126Guatemala0.663 8,494.00
127Nicaragua0.66 5,284.00
128Bhutan0.654 10,746.00
129Namibia0.646 9,357.00
130India0.645 6,681.00
131Honduras0.645 6,681.00
132Bangladesh0.632 4,976.00
133Kiribati0.63 4,260.00
134Sao Tome and Principe0.625 3,952.00
135Micronesia0.62 3,983.00
136Lao People’s Democratic Republic0.613 7,413.00
137Eswatini0.611 7,919.00
138Ghana0.611 5,269.00
139Vanuatu0.609 3,105.00
140Timor-Leste0.606 4,440.00
141Nepal0.602 3,457.00
142Kenya0.601 4,244.00
143Cambodia0.594 4,246.00
144Cambodia0.592 13,944.00
145Zambia0.584 3,326.00
146Myanmar0.583 4,961.00
147Angola0.581 6,104.00
148Congo0.574 2,879.00
149Zimbabwe0.571 2,666.00
150Solomon Islands0.567 2,253.00
151Syrian Arab Republic0.567 3,613.00
152Cameroon0.563 3,581.00
153Pakistan0.557 5,005.00
154Papua New Guinea0.555 4,301.00
155Comoros0.554 3,099.00
156Mauritania0.546 5,135.00
157Benin0.545 3,254.00
158Uganda0.544 2,123.00
159Rwanda0.543 2,155.00
160Nigeria0.539 4,910.00
161Côte d’Ivoire0.538 5,069.00
162Tanzania0.529 2,600.00
163Madagascar0.528 1,596.00
164Lesotho0.5273,151.00
165Djibouti0.524 5,689.00
166Togo0.515 1,602.00
167Senegal0.512 3,309.00
168Afghanistan0.511 2,229.00
169Haiti0.51 1,709.00
170Sudan0.51 3,829.00
171Gambia0.496 2,168.00
172Ethiopia0.485 2,207.00
173Malawi0.483 1,035.00
174Congo (Democratic Republic of the)0.48 1,063.00
175Guinea-Bissau0.48 1,996.00
176Liberia0.48 1,258.00
177Guinea0.477 2,405.00
178Yemen0.47 1,594.00
179Eritrea0.459 2,793.00
180Mozambique0.456 1,250.00
181Burkina Faso0.452 2,133.00
182Sierra Leone0.452 1,668.00
183Mali0.434 2,269.00
184Burundi0.433 754.00
185South Sudan0.433 2,003.00
186Chad0.398 1,555.00
187Central African Republic0.397 993.00
189Niger0.394 1,201.00
Source: https://hdr.undp.org/data-center/human-development-index#/indicies/HDI