Socialism/Communism: The countries in this column have a communist system of government which is based on the ideas of socialism.
Capitalism: The countries in this column are countries whose economies are driven by the principles of capitalism.
China Animated Flag Image


USA Animated Flag Image

United States

Cuba Animated Flag Image


Canada Animated Flag Image


North Korea Animated Flag

North Korea

Great Britain Animated Flag

Great Britain


When you are done with this page, try theĀ Socialism and Capitalism Quiz.

There are many different ideas or systems of how an economy should be run. The two most common are capitalism and socialism. They are very different in how they view who runs the economy. Most economies have ideas from both systems, but tend to be more of one than the other.

Capitalism is the economic system based on private or corporate ownership of, production and distribution of goods. It has always existed to some extent in all civilizations but was written about formally by Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776. Capitalists favor a system of free enterprise which means the government does not interfere in the economy – that the laws of supply and demand will make sure that the ecnomy runs most efficiently in meeting people’s needs. Capitalism is characterized by competition in which there is rivalry in supplying or getting an economic service or good. Sellers compete with other sellers, and buyers with other buyers. The buyers seek the best possible deal in purchasing goods and the sellers look to make the best possible sale allowing them the most profit.

Socialism is an economic theory or idea that states that the government or the state should be in charge of economic planning, production and distribution of goods. This contrasts with capitalism where free markets predonimate and property is privately owned. Socielism tends to favor cooperation whereas capitalism is characterized by competition.

The theories of socialism first arose in the late eighteenth century in response to the Industrial Revolution where factory owners were becoming wealthy and the workers impoverished. Thus, workers wanted a greater share in the wealth that factories were making. Later a form of socialism called communism sprang up based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Communism advocates class struggle and revolution to establish a society of cooperation with strong government control. Communism predominated in the former Soviet Union and much of Eastern Europe at one time. Today it predominates in China and Cuba, but its influence has lessened.


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