At present, there are about 20 developing countries in Europe. Developing countries, sometimes called emerging or transitional economies, can be defined as nations that have a lower standard of living and lower production levels. These countries are usually not highly-industrialised and have a lower per capita national product.
However, even though these nations are called “developing” it doesn’t necessarily mean no progress is being made. Many of these countries showcase the drive to advance themselves economically and to improve infrastructure.
Here are some of the nations in Europe that are considered to be developing countries.
List of Developing Countries in Europe
Located in Eastern Europe, the Republic of Belarus is a former Soviet Republic with a population of about 9.5 million citizens. Although it is considered to be a developing country in Europe, this nation has the 72nd largest economy in the world with a GDP of $62.572 billion recorded in 2019. Despite the fall of the former Soviet Union, in which Belarus was located, the country’s industrial base remained intact, and this bodes well for future developments. Belarus today has a high standard of living and education. It has seen a significant rise in economic freedom, having achieved a score of 61.7 in the 2020 Economic Index of Freedom.
Russia is the largest country compared to others across the globe and is seen as having strong political leadership; however, it has a weak economy and faced a financial crisis that lasted from 2014 to 2017. The country has shown a somewhat weak GDP growth and only recently showed a somewhat free economy. It received a score of 61.0 from the 2020 Index of Freedom, which makes it the 94th freest among other countries listed in the index. Overall, Russia doesn’t have a very diverse economy and in the current scheme of things lacks technological innovation – something it was famous for as part of the “space race”.
Classified as a developing country in Europe by the International Monetary Fund, Croatia has shown some improvement in GDP growth and is considered to be the 84th freest nation in the world. In 2018, the World Bank declared this tourism-orientated country a high-income country – it is also considered one of the strongest economies in Southeast Europe. Yet, Croatia’s strong dependence in tourism income might prove a challenge in future in the current world climate and the country needs to diversify its focus to preserve its growth potential.
The Republic of Kosovo has shown its economic resilience in the last decade. It was one of only four countries in Europe that could withstand the impact of the global financial crisis and showed year on year economic growth. Areas where this country can still show improvement include job creation and lowering unemployment levels, making Kosovo one of the developing European nation. Although it is currently listed as the 53rd freest economy in the world, it still needs improvement in its national and global economic integration and to raise its citizens’ living standards. Only then can it continue to improve its economic freedom.
Albania was once known as one of the poorest European nations. It managed to improve its economic landscape in the last three decades and is now considered to be an upper-middle-income country and has a solid focus on economic growth and improving job creation. Albania’s economy was named the 57th freest in the world by the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, with a slight improvement thanks to the country’s economic health and overall steady GDP growth.
6. North Macedonia
Ranked 82nd in the Human Development Index (HDI), the Republic of North Macedonia is a developing European country with an open economy in Southeast Europe. This upper-middle-income country has shown a stable economic growth in the last two decades, which included doubling income per capita. It has the 42nd freest economy in the world and in 2009 was named the fourth-best reformatory state in the world by the World Bank. Trade has contributed almost 90% to its GDP. Looking to the future, this country will need to continue following its reform agenda trajectory to improve its economic growth, create more jobs for its citizens, and look to better taxation and improved support for SMMEs (small and media enterprises). North Macedonia has already shown progress in some of these reforms, including budget transparency.
Since its independence in the 1990s, Hungary’s economic growth has been driven by exports as well as its local demands and its construction industry. The country has a relatively low unemployment rate and it has the 54th highest economy and 62nd freest economy in the world. It also ranks 45th in the Human Development Index (HDI) and offers its citizens universal healthcare and free secondary education. Excessive government spending is considered to be the biggest threat to Hungary’s economic growth; however, the nation’s 2020 budget shows promise for further economic growth in this developing country.
Located in the south of Europe, Bosnia–Herzegovina is considered to be an upper-middle-income country. In terms of its economic freedom rank, this nation has the 82nd freest economy in the world. Although there have been improvements in this country’s labour market, it still has a high unemployment rate that needs to be addressed effectively, which makes Bosnia-Herzegovina a developing country in Europe. The Bosnia–Herzegovina economy is further under threat from political unrest. Should the country address its economic imbalances, it will provide a sustainable outlook for the future.
It is clear from the list of countries recorded above that the label of a developing country doesn’t necessarily mean a country that is stagnating or not showing any growth. Rather, it is important to review the developing countries as those that still have several challenges in the economic, political and social spheres to overcome. Once they have shown significant progress, this can help them achieve a developed country status, provided they maintain a good trajectory.
I hope that this article on developing countries in Europe was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Ranking Page!