Why Belize Isn’t a Third World Country
Guest Post by Sharon Hiebing
Ever since contemplating moving to Belize, and then once doing so in 2010, I have often heard it referred to as a Third World country. Just to clarify, I’m not one of those history buffs or excessively political types, so I only had a notion of what “third world” meant.
Emerging and Developing Countries
It seemed to me after living in Belize for awhile, that the term is a misnomer. So I looked up the definition of Third World on Wikipedia, and this is what it said:
“The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World), or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). This definition provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions.”
Ok, so since I do know enough to know that the Cold War has been over for many, many years, I wondered why this term persisted. I then discovered that this term, when used today, generally denotes countries that have not “advanced” to the same levels as OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, and which are thus in the process of “developing.” Hence, here’s the definition of a Developing Country (also from Wikipedia):
“Developing country” is a term generally used to describe a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries. Some developing countries have high average standards of living.”
Ah, now it’s starting to make more sense. As it turns out, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Report 2015, (latest update) Belize is on the list Emerging and Developing Countries.
Given all these facts, I think it’s high time we stopped referring to Belize as a third world country. I’m not entirely convinced it should be called a developing country either. I guess I could settle for it being called an emerging country.
Here are the reasons why I think Belize should not be called a Third World Country:
- Cable TV with American, Chinese, Mexican, and Indian TV stations
- High-speed, wireless internet
- Sophisticated cell phone technology, including texting and surfing the web
- Indoor plumbing
- Air conditioning
- Readily available Potable water
- Modern vehicles
- Traffic lights (although very few we have a couple)
- International airport
- Healthcare and medicine readily accessible
- Sophisticated transportation system (planes, boats, buses, and automobiles)
- Widespread school system
- Literacy rate of 76.5%, 2.3% infant mortality rate (23.07/1,000 live births), and life expectancy rate of 68.2 years
- Democratic government, with two main factions
- Self-sustaining nation
- Active import and export nation
You may disagree with me, and that’s fine since a good debate never hurt anyone, but I know from this point going forward whenever I hear someone using that term to describe Belize, I will explain to them why I’d ask them to reconsider.
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