Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A developed country is a country that is technologically advanced and that enjoys a relatively high standard of living. In most cases, countries with a high per capita GDP are "developed countries," however high GDP can be achieved (usually temporarily) through natural resource exploitation (e.g. Equatorial Guinea oil; Nauru, phosphate) without the country becoming developed.
Synonyms include industrialised countries, more economically developed countries (MEDC) and the First World.
Other terms sometimes used to describe the developed/developing country dichotomy are first world/third world (the term second world was during the Cold War reserved for communist states,) North/South, or industrialized countries/non-industrialized countries. The term Western countries has similar, though not identical, connotations.
Different observers and theorists often see different reasons for why certain countries (and not others) enjoy a high level of economic development. Some have argued that democracy is required for a robust modern economy. Others believe that an economic model close to a free market facilitates development. Yet others hold that rich countries grew wealthy by exploiting poorer countries in the past, through imperialism and colonialism. Some claim that this exploitation continues in the present, through the process of globalization.
In the United Nations system there is no established convention for the designation of "developed" and "developing" countries or areas. In common practice, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania and Europe are considered "developed" regions or areas. In international trade statistics, the Southern African Customs Union is also treated as a developed region and Israel as a developed country; and countries of eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. countries in Europe are not included under either developed or developing regions. 
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