What are the 'Four Asian Tigers'?

The four Asian tigers are the high-growth 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 richest nations. Hong Kong and Singapore are among the biggest financial centers worldwide while South Korea and Taiwan are important hubs for global manufacturing of automobile and electronic components, and information technology.

BREAKING DOWN 'Four Asian Tigers'

The four Asian tigers, also known as the Asian dragons, share common characteristics that include a focus on exports, an educated populace and high savings rates. The economies of the four tigers have proven resilient enough to withstand local crises, such as the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and global shocks including the credit crunch of 2008. The International Monetary Fund includes the four Asian tigers in its category of 35 most advanced economies.

South Korea

In the 1960s, South Korea's gross domestic product per capita was comparable with the poorest countries in Asia and Africa. However, in the following four decades the country experienced considerable growth, affected in part by a system of close government, directed credit and import restrictions. According to the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, the country had a total GDP of $1.5 trillion and a per capita GDP of over $35,938 with a growth rate of 2.9 percent.


Despite its contentious relationship with China, Taiwan has thrived over the last four decades, and had a GDP per capita of $50,294. Although the country is not part of the United Nations, due to pressure from China, it is a strong exporter, and its GDP of $579.3 billion in 2017, making this nation of 24 million people one of the strongest economies in Asia.

Hong Kong

Considered a special administrative region in China, Hong Kong has freedom over all its activities, except defense, until 2047. At that point, Hong Kong and China will reassess their relationship. The country ranks extremely high on scales measuring economic freedom and had a GDP of $341.5 billion in 2017 and a growth rate of 3.4 percent according to the World Bank.


Although it has only 5.6 million citizens, Singapore had a GDP of $324 billion in 2017 and a growth rate of 3.9 percent. Considered one of the least corrupt nations in the world, the country has a transparent regulatory environment and well-secured property rights, which provide commercial security to the private sector.

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