The Fourth World, Visualized

The world is full of unique and diverse cultures, spread out across various countries. But not all of these countries have developed in equal proportion. The United Nations tracks all countries of the world, follows the development of each and places them into four distinct categories. Take a look at the chart below to see the distribution of development across the world.

The maps above split each country into four distinct categories. Developed countries are green, developing countries are orange, economies in transition are yellow and the least developed countries are red. The data were collected from the UN’s recent Annual Statistical Report of United Nations Procurement.

The most striking revelation is the distribution of developed countries. The overwhelming majority of developed countries are Western nations; the United States, Canada, Western and Northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The only two exceptions to this trend are Japan and Israel, both of which are considered developed countries by the United Nations. Both Japan and Israel have benefitted from close economic and political ties with the United States, the largest economy in the world.


Countries in transition, which are generally defined as having a centrally planned economy that is switching to a market economy, are found mostly around Russia. The Russian Federation is the most notable country in transition. Most of Russia’s neighbors are also countries in transition, a likely consequence of the collapse of the USSR.

Developing economies are the most numerous and are generally found in the same four regions: The Asia Pacific, South America, Africa and the Middle East. Every country in Latin America and the Caribbean the UN considers to be developing. Haiti is the only exception, which is considered one of the least developed countries. The majority of the least developed countries in the world are found in Africa, with only a handful of exceptions. A little over half of the countries in Africa are considered to be the least developed countries in the world by the United Nations. There are a few exceptions in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and in Haiti.

Western countries dominate the list of developed nations, while African nations constitute the majority of the least developed nations. Many economies in transition are found either in or around the Russian Federation. Finally, developing economies are found throughout many regions, especially Latin America, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Correction 13/10/16:

- The map of Europe has been updated to correct a mistake of categorization in Corsica.

- The map of Asia has been updated to correct a spelling mistake in Iraq. 

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