What Is a List of Capitalist Countries?

Martin Fisch/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The United States, Canada, Australia, Barbados, France, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Jamaica, Peru, Chile, Sweden, Switzerland, Panama, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Romania, Turkey and Portugal are all examples of capitalist countries. However, the degree of capitalism varies by country.

Capitalism is an economic system characterized by the private ownership of property, capital accumulation, competitive markets, wage labor and profit. It ranges from laizzez-faire capitalism to state capitalism. Under laizzez-faire capitalism, there is no government interference or intervention in private markets; market participants are free to conduct business transactions as they choose. Pure laizzez-faire capitalism is rare. Under state capitalism, the government regulates how business can be conducted and how some resources are allocated. Countries that practice state capitalism are said to have a mixed economy.

Capitalism grew out of mercantilism, which was a system of trade and profit practiced between the 16th and 18th centuries by England and several other European nations. Much of the exploration and conquest of the Western Hemisphere and Asia was the result of the mercantilists’ drive for profit. Two mercantilist ventures that played major roles in the spread of trade were the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company.

The opposite of capitalism is communism. Under communism, all property is owned and controlled by the state. Communism has generally been discredited as a viable economic system.