How can I find out what countries have stopped being socialist/communist?

I know it sounds deceptively simple, but it really isn’t. After 1989, what countries have stopped being socialist/communist?

Well there’s a list of current and past communist states in the wikipedia article on Communist state. If you’ve find no timelines elsewhere there aren’t so many countries there that you can just skim the history of each one and see when they changed.

Sounds like you might be American, so what exactly do you mean by socialist?

Could you hint what kind of information you are looking for? Are you interested in countries that are/were “really” communist or socialist (if any!?), or is it enough that the name of some governing party/ies contained one of those strings? What about Social Democrats?

I found some user-created maps, but such pretty pictures are incomplete and inaccurate for multiple reasons. Here’s another one.

For specific information, I would start by looking at results of legislative elections and unbiased economic data.

I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. Here’s the thing:

My son (13, middle school) was asked to make a map marking the countries that have stopped being communist after 1989. At first I thought, simple, just color the former SSRs and Eastern Europe countries, but then it hit us, some of those may still be communist. For that matter, is Russia still communist? Where do you draw the line? Also, there were communist states all over the world (southern Asia, Africa, even Cuba) which may or may not have changed regimes.

I understand asking for homework help is frowned upon, but in my defense: i) I’m not looking so much for a direct answer, but for a methodology, if you will, to get to the answer, and ii) I think it’s a legitimately interesting question.

I appreciate any help.


I would find out if the class (teacher/textbook) gives a clear definition of communism. If not, then choose one and apply it to all countries.

I believe you are overthinking this, for the specific situation. Your child’s teacher isn’t likely to expect him/her to delve into the subtleties of whether any country was EVER truly communist and so on.

I suggest you go with the simple route, and note which countries are still officially communist (Cuba, North Korea and China is about it), and then mark all the ones which USED TO BE communist as the answer.

If the question had been more subtle, such as asking what nations have established truly free and reliable democratic voting systems since the fall of the Soviet Union, the answer would be much harder to work out.

Actually, I’m not sure about Mongolia. Might want to check that one.

Oops! I forgot Vietnam as well. I think they are still officially communist, in the same nominal way China is. And Laos.

Why not start with the Wikipedia article on Communist state and then check current political status of each of the countries listed?

What’s your definition of communist here? Ruled by a communist party? Having a mostly publically owned economy? Self-describing as communist? Subscribing at some level to the ‘from each according to his ability, to each according his needs’ ideal? All of the above? If you specific your definition then we can talk about which countries might qualify.

Cuba, Vietnam, China and Laos all still self-define as communist countries, are run by communist parties and all have mostly state-run economies in pre-1989 communist ideology, although Vietnam has also taken steps towards either partial or full privatization or most enterprises. China self-describes as communist as well but they’ve gone so far towards privatization of the economy they’re probably better described as a sort of hybrid society. North Korea dropped the references to communism in its constitution in 2009, I believe.

None of the former Soviet or Warsaw Pact countries officially self describes as communist today. Belarus is the only one you could plausibly describe as neo-communist, I think, although I’m not sure about the Central Asian economies. Belarus has a mostly state owned economy, a large degree of central planning, a relatively small role of the market, and stresses is continuity with the Soviet Communist past. (They self describe as ‘market socialist’ today).

So for a broad definition you could still call China, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba and Belarus communist (of sorts) today.

North Korea dropped references to communism in 2009. Now the official term is Juche.

There are only 5 communist states left.

North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, China, Cuba.

I don’t think any is communist. Vietnam, China and Laos are all taking on market forces, they are just keeping the authoritarianism of communism. However China does still have a strong role for the government in determining direction of the economy from what I know. All 3 abandoned economic communist in favor of market forces and all 3 have seen their GDP growth rates grow rapidly ever since doing so. I don’t know what the definition of communism actually is (someone who knows more than me would help) but my impression is all 3 of them have abandoned economic communism.

North Korea is really more of a militant personality cult designed to enable the lavish lifestyles of the elite more than anything else. Arguably they are technically fascist (militant, constantly rambling about foreign and domestic enemies, personality cult, intense nationalism, disdain for human rights, etc). North Korea also has a very large and growing black market, since the public market has failed to provide the goods and services people need. So they rely on private market forces too.

I don’t know what is going on with Cuba. They may be the only truly communist nation left, but I have no idea what goes on with them economically.

Basically, after the fall of the USSR there have only been 5 communist nations, and at least 4 are only communist in name.

Juche means economic self reliance, not communism. I think.

I don’t think partial reliance on market forces makes a country not communist. Both Hungary and Yugoslavia during the later half of the cold war had some role for markets in their economies, but it was generally agreed that they were both communist states. It’s private ownership that’s really incompatible with communism. I’m not sure exactly what the threshold would be (in terms of how much of your economy needs to be in private hands before you’re no longer a communist country), but I would agree with you it’s quite possible China is over that line.

Why wouldn’t Belarus qualify? (They don’t self describe as communist, but their government does try to stress continuinty with the communist era, and they’re ‘reformed’ less than probably any other former Soviet or Warsaw Pact state).