Comparing Ethiopia and South Korea

The table below compares a number of development indicators for Ethiopia and South Korea. They are both considered developing countries, but there are obvious differences between the two.

Development indicatorEthopiaSouth Korea
GNP/capita (US$)89032,860
Doctors/100,000 people10240
Adult literacy (%)5298
Birth rate per 1000317
Life expectancy (years)6783

There are many reasons, both physical and human, to explain the differences in levels of development.


  • few natural resources
  • caught in the vicious circle of poverty
  • based on subsistence agriculture with land degradation
  • government lacking money and in debt ($10 billion)
  • civil war and an unstable, corrupt government
  • poor health with endemic disease - Aids/HIV holding back development
  • low standards of housing, sanitation and education
  • lack of industrial development
  • suffers from flooding and drought

South Korea

  • a government that is politically secure, stable and supportive
  • naturally occurring resources
  • wealth is based on industrial growth
  • wealth is reinvested in housing, health, sanitation, and food
  • large, flexible, low cost workforce. Labour force also well-educated and resourceful
  • has powerful allies (USA)
  • well located to export to the economically-strong Pacific Rim countries (USA, Japan, China)
  • foreign investment attracted and multinationals keen to be involved
  • population growth under control