Development means almost the same as wealth.

  • A developed country (MEDC) is a rich country.
  • A developing country (LEDC) is a poor country. Development is often taken to mean the wealth of a country.

The most developed countries (the MEDCs) are relatively rich countries and the less developed countries (LEDCs) are relatively poor countries.

Development, however, is also about ‘quality of life’ or ‘standard of living’ and the extent to which all the people have a decent basic standard of living.

Here is a short video which explains MEDCs and LEDCs.


Birth Rate Low 10-16 babies born per 1000 people High 20-45 people born per 1000 people
Death Rate Low due to good health care High due to poor health care and widespread disease
Natural Increase Low (below 1%) High 2-3.5% or more
Infant Mortality Very few children die before the age of 5 in MEDCs

A high proportion of children die before the age of 5 in LEDCs due to poor health care. About 35,000 babies die every day in LEDCs due to poor health care and lack of food

People per doctor A majority of people in MEDCs have access to a doctor Few people in LEDCs have access to a doctor unless they are wealthy
Life Expectancy Life expectancy is high in MEDCs due to good medical care and quality of life Life expectancy is low in LEDCs due to poor medical care and quality of life
Housing Housing in MEDCs is adequate for a majority of people. Most people have access to clean running water and electricity Housing in LEDCs is often inadequate with no access to clean running water or electricity. Shanty towns are large areas which develop in LEDCs and consist of poorly built properties
Literacy Literacy rates in MEDCs are high because a majority of children have access to a free education Literacy rates in LEDCs are low because people cannot afford to send their children to school and some areas may not even have schools due to a lack of teachers
GNP The rich MEDCs (with a GNP over US$10000) are in the continents of North America, Europe and Australasia. Japan in Asia is also in this group The poorest LEDCs (with GNPs under US$1250) are mainly in the continents of Africa and Asia. They lie on the southern side of the North-South Line

Availabilty of resources

LEDCs are the countries which produce many of the worlds raw materials. They then sell these raw materials to MEDCs for relatively low prices.

The MEDCs then use the products to manufacture high value goods which they can sell for a great profit.

Many LEDCs cannot afford the modern technology which would help to ensure better medical care and improve levels of employment.

In LEDCs much of the food is produced on small, inefficient subsistence farms and together with problems caused by extreme weather, means that food production on a national scale may be inadequate to feed all the people.


Trade is the exchange of goods and services between countries.

  • Goods, e.g. raw materials, food and manufactured products are called visible trade.
  • Services, e.g. money spent by tourists, or foreign aid, are called invisible trade.

Many LEDCs export primary products.

  • These include things like oil, cotton, iron, bananas, coffee and cocoa. MEDCs export a greater number and range of secondary products.
  • These are often manufactured goods which are made from primary products from LEDCs.

Over 50% of trade takes place between MEDC countries, for example, the trading of cars to provide everybody with a greater choice.

Less trading happens between LEDCs as most of the LEDCs produce the same products.

Rich countries in North America, especially the USA, and countries in free trade areas, such as the EU, dominate world trade.


sign up to revision world banner