Four Asian Tigers

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What are the four Asian tigers?

The four Asian tigers are the fast growing economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Fueled by exports and rapid industrialization, the four Asian tigers have consistently maintained high levels of economic growth since the 1960s and have joined the ranks of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Hong Kong and Singapore are among the world’s largest financial centers, while South Korea and Taiwan are essential hubs for global manufacturing of automotive and electronic components, as well as for information technology.

Key points to remember

  • The four Asian tigers refer to four East Asian nations: Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • The four economies recorded high growth rates in a context of strong expansion, in particular between the 1950s and the 1990s, but also until today.

Why the four Asian tigers thrive

Also known as Asian dragons, the four Asian tigers share common characteristics, including a high concentration on exports, an educated population and high savings rates. The economies of the Four Tigers have shown themselves to be resilient enough to withstand local crises such as the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and global shocks such as the credit crisis of 2008.

All information on GDP and the economy included below are in line with the 2019 index of economic freedom.

The International Monetary Fund includes the four Asian tigers in its category of the 35 most advanced economies.

South Korea

In the 1960s, South Korea’s gross domestic product per capita was comparable to the poorest countries in Asia and Africa. But over the next four decades, the country experienced substantial growth, affected in part by a close system of government, credit and import restrictions. In 2019, South Korea had a total GDP of $ 2,000 billion U.S. and a GDP per capita of more than $ 39,434, with a growth rate of 3.1%.


Despite its contentious relationship with China, Taiwan has prospered over the past four decades and had a per capita GDP of $ 50,294 in 2019. Although the country is not a member of the United Nations, due to pressure from China, it nevertheless appeared to be a reliable country. exporter. Its GDP of $ 1.2 trillion in 2019 made this country of 24 million people one of the strongest economies in Asia.

Hong Kong

Considered a special administrative region (SAR) in China, Hong Kong has freedom over all of its activities, except defense, until 2047, when Hong Kong and China will reassess their relations. The latest reports show that the country ranks exceptionally high on scales of economic freedom, with a GDP of 454.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and a growth rate of 3.8%.


Although it has only 5.6 million citizens, Singapore had a GDP of $ 527 billion in 2019 and a growth rate of 3.6%. Considered one of the least corrupt nations in the world, Singapore has a notoriously transparent regulatory environment and well guaranteed property rights, which provide valuable commercial security to the private sector.

Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are sometimes called the “tiger economies” because they have grown more slowly than the four Asian tigers over the decades since the 1950s, but have nevertheless grown at a rapid rate more sustained, according to a recent report from the St. Louis Fed.

Example from the real world

The four Asian tigers managed their exchange rates by switching to fixed-rate models, to thwart any unwanted appreciation that could affect the economy. For example, Singapore and Hong Kong have introduced neoliberal economic policies which have encouraged free trade.

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