Communist Countries

The Five Remaining Communist Countries in the World

During the reign of the Soviet Union, communist countries could be found in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Communist countries in the twentieth century included Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Ethiopia, Hungary, Mongolia, Mozambique, Poland, Romania, Somalia, South Yemen, Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Today, there are only five communist countries remaining in the world.

1
China (People's Republic of China)

Chinese flag
Grant Faint/Photodisc/Getty Images

Mao Zedong took control over China in 1949 and proclaimed China as the People's Republic of China, a communist country. China has remained consistently communist since 1949 although economic reforms have been in place for several years. China has been called "Red China" due to the communist party's control over the country. China does have political parties other than the Communist Party of China (CPC), and open elections are held locally throughout the country. That said, the CPC has control over all political appointments, and there is often little opposition to the ruling communist party. As China has opened up to the rest of the world in recent decades, the resulting disparities of wealth have eroded some of the principles of communism, and in 2004 the country's constitution was changed to recognize private property.

2
Cuba (Republic of Cuba)

Cuban flag flying over Havana
Sven Creutzmann / Mambo photo / Getty Images

A revolution in 1959 led to the taking over of the Cuban government by Fidel Castro. By 1961, Cuba became a fully communist country and developed close ties to the Soviet Union. At the same time, the United States imposed a ban on all trade with Cuba. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba was forced to find new sources for both trade and financial subsidies with countries such as China, Bolivia, and Venezuela. In 2008, Fidel Castro stepped down and his brother, Raul Castro, became President. During the second term of U.S. President Barack Obama, relationships between Cuba and the U.S. began to thaw as the easing of restrictions on travel and trade were set into motion.

3
Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Laotian flag
Iwan Gabovitch via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, became a communist country in 1975 following a revolution that was supported by Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Prior to this time, the country had been a monarchy. The country's government is largely run by military generals who support a one-party system grounded in Marxist ideals, although the country's political system is highly corrupt and often fails to live up to those ideals.

4
North Korea (DPRK, Democratic People's Republic of Korea)

North Korean flag
Alain Nogues / Corbis via Getty Images

Korea, which was captured by Japan in World War II, was divided following the war into a Soviet north and American south. Despite being led by the USSR beginning in 1945, North Korea did not become a communist country until 1948. Note that while much of the Western world identifies North Korea as communist, the current North Korean government does not. In 2009, the country's constitution was changed to remove all mention of the Marxist and Leninist ideals that are the foundation of communism, and the very word "communism" was also removed.

5
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)

Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
Rob Ball / Getty Images

Vietnam was partitioned at a 1954 conference that followed the First Indochina War. While the partition was supposed to be temporary, North Vietnam became communist and supported by the Soviet Union while South Vietnam was democratic and supported by the United States. Following two decades of war, the two parts of Vietnam were unified and in 1976, Vietnam as a unified country became a communist country. Vietnam, like other communist countries, has moved towards a market economy in recent decades that has seen some of its socialist ideals supplanted by capitalism.

6
Countries with Ruling Communist Parties

Nepal flag
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Several countries with multiple political parties have had communist party leaders, but these states are not considered truly communist because of the presence of other political parties, and because the communist party is not specifically empowered by the constitution. Nepal, Guyana, and Moldova have all had ruling communist parties in recent years.

7
Socialist Countries

Portugal flag
David Stanley via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

While the world has just five (or four if you don't count North Korea) communist countries, socialist countries are relatively common. These are countries whose constitutions include statements about the protection and rule of the working class. Current socialist states include Portugal, Sri Lanka, India, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, and several others. 

Note: This article was heavily edited by Allen Grove in August, 2016.