Which Countries Are Still Communist?

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Laos is one of the few remaining communist countries in the world. Photo by Ioana Farcas on Unsplash
  • Communism is a movement and ideology that seeks to establish a socioeconomic order based on common ownership of the means of production where there is no need for money or social classes.
  • The first communist country was Russia, which became the Soviet Union. It existed from 1922 until 1991.
  • The only remaining communist countries are Laos, Cuba, China, North Korea, and Vietnam.

While some may consider communism an ideology of the past, there are still a few places in the world ruled by communism. A communist state is a state governed by one communist party that follows Marxism-Leninism

China (People's Republic of China)

China has been a communist country since October 1949. While they got rid of the main parts of the communist economic system a long time ago, they are still politically very communist. They have a liberalized economy: commercially minded state enterprises function alongside private-sector corporations.

The Chinese Communist Party keeps a strong grip on the country through the three "P"s: personnel, propaganda, and the People's Liberation Army, the party's military force. The country's media is controlled through the Propaganda Department. 

Cuba (Republic of Cuba)

Defying predictions that it would collapse with the Soviet Union, Cuba has thrived as a one-party communist state since 1959. After the fall of Fulgencio Batista's American-backed dictatorship, Fidel Castro controlled almost every aspect of Cuban life through Cuba's communist party.

Historically relying on strong backing from the Soviet Union, the country boasts strong public health and education systems. While American trade sanctions have resulted in an undiverse economy, the communist government survived the better part of a century of US trade sanctions intended to topple Castro. Cuba and the US have since normalized relations. 

Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic)

One of East Asia's poorest states, Laos became a communist state after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. As the Pathet Lao movement came to power, the civil war ended and the country became communist.

Like Cuba, Laos received economic aid from the Soviet Union. Upon the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country's economy began to suffer. Laos currently remains heavily dependent on foreign aid.

North Korea (People's Democratic Republic of Korea)

Emerging out of the chaos following the second world war, North Korea is one of the most secretive countries in the world. With a rigid totalitarian state, the country has been accused of numerous systematic human rights abuses.

North Korea is also accused of tight media control keeping citizens in a state of ignorance. Most citizens do not have access to the internet. All press, media outlets, and broadcasters are under state control. It is forbidden to report economic problems or famines. Foreign media is not often allowed to visit the country, and journalists often face extreme danger when attempting to report from North Korea. 

The third supreme leader in the Kim dynasty, Kim Jong-un is the country's leader. He promotes the military and is known for his hot-and-cold attitude towards the use of nuclear weapons. 

Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)

Since the country's independence, communism has played a key role in Vietnamese politics. 

After the US lost the Vietnam War, North and South Vietnam officially unified under a communist government. They renamed the combined new state the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and later became aligned with the Soviet Union. Vietnam is currently a one-party state with no separation of power. 

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