Four Asian Tigers

Four Asian Tigers
Four Asian Tigers
Four Asian Tigers.svg
A map showing the Four Asian Tigers
 Hong Kong  Singapore
 South Korea  Taiwan
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 亞洲四小龍
Simplified Chinese 亚洲四小龙
Literal meaning Asia's Four Little Dragons
Korean name
Hangul 아시아의 네 마리 용
Literal meaning Asia's four dragons

The Four Asian Tigers or Asian Dragons is a term used in reference to the highly developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These nations and areas were notable for maintaining exceptionally high growth rates (in excess of 7 percent a year) and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s. By the 21st century, all four have developed into advanced and high-income economies, specializing in areas of competitive advantage. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore have become world-leading international financial centres, whereas South Korea and Taiwan are world leaders in manufacturing information technology. Their economic success stories have served as role models for many developing countries,[1][2][3] especially the Tiger Cub Economies.

The tigers experienced decades of supercharged growth based largely on industrial policies supporting exports to rich, industrialized nations. Many of these policies, including import substitution in Taiwan and South Korea, contradicted the neo-liberal economic ideas promoted by the United States. All the same, these economies enjoyed extremely high growth rates sustained over decades. Other common characteristics of the tigers included heavy government investment in education, non-democratic and relatively authoritarian political systems during the early years of development, high levels of U.S. bond holdings, and high public and private savings rates.[4]

The first major setback experienced by the tiger economies was the 1997 Asian financial crisis. While Singapore and Taiwan were relatively unscathed, South Korea underwent a major stock market crash brought on by high levels of non-performing corporate loans, while Hong Kong came under intense speculative attacks against its stock market and currency necessitating unprecedented market interventions by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. In the years after the crisis, all four economies rebounded strongly. South Korea, the worst-hit of the tigers, has managed to triple its per capita GDP in dollar terms since 1997.


Territory and region data

Skyline of Central Hong Kong's central business district viewed from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong.
Downtown Singapore skyline before dusk.
Skyline of the Central Business District of Seoul, South Korea.
The skyline of Taipei, capital of Taiwan and its financial center.


Country or
Area km² Population Population density
per km²
Human Development Index
 Hong Kong 1,104 7,108,100 6,349 0.898 (13th) Hong Kong
 Singapore 710 5,076,700 7,148 0.866 (26th) Singapore
 South Korea 100,210 48,219,000 487 0.897 (15th) Seoul
 Taiwan 36,191[5] 23,197,947 639 0.868 (24th)[6] Taipei


Country or
GDP nominal
millions of USD (2010)
millions of USD (2010)
GDP nominal per capita
USD (2010)
GDP PPP per capita
USD (2010)
millions of USD (2010)
millions of USD (2010)
 Hong Kong 224,459 327,232 31,514 45,944 388,600 437,000
 Singapore 222,699 292,829 43,117 56,694 358,400 310,400
 South Korea 1,014,482 1,466,125 20,756 29,997 464,300 422,400
 Taiwan 429,845 824,671 18,558 35,604 274,400 251,400


Country or
Democracy Index
Property rights index
Press Freedom Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Political Status
 Hong Kong 5.92 7.7 10.75 8.4 Partially Democratic SAR
 Singapore 5.89 7.9 47.50 9.3 Parliamentary Republic
 South Korea 8.11 6.2 13.33 5.4 Presidential Republic
 Taiwan 7.52 6.5 14.50 5.8 Semi-Presidential Republic

Organizations and groups

Country or
 Hong Kong × × × ×
 Singapore × ×
 South Korea ○ (APT)
 Taiwan × × × ×

See also


Further reading

  • Ezra F. Vogel, The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of Industrialization in East Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).

External links

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