The Four Asian Tigers or Asian Dragons are the highly developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These regions were the first newly industrialized countries. They are known because they had very high growth rates (they become rich very fast) and fast industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s. Now people say that all four countries are rich countries.
All four Asian Tigers have a lot of people who are very educated and good at their jobs. They also did different things, and tried to do them better than other countries. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore became very good at international finance, while South Korea and Taiwan became very good at information technology.
The economic success stories of Korea and Taiwan became known as the Miracle on the Han River and the Taiwan Miracle. This helped many developing countries think maybe they could become rich too, especially the [[Tiger Cub economies.
The four tigers grew richer very quickly. Some of this was because these countries let companies compete more, and some of this was because they started to sell more to other countries. The United States helped during the Cold War, because they didn't want these countries to become communist.
All the Asian Tigers tried to export (sell) things to rich industrialized nations. They grew rich very quickly (they had double-digit economic growth) for decades. Each nation was not a democracy, and people were not very free in the early years. All of these countries later became freer, and people now think Taiwan and Korea are liberal democracies.
Unfortunately the bubble burst in 1997 as the financial successes lead to dangerously unwise investments and the market imploded. Lack of transparency in financial practices, corporate favoritism, and rampant corruption (with the exception of Singapore) meant no one really knew where their money was going and people started to notice. When exports began to diminish rapidly the new foreign investors simply pulled their money out of the tiger economies and the bottom fell out Woodall, Pam, “How Many Paths to Salvation?”, suddenly economists wondered whether they were a little too trigger-happy in labeling the tiger economies such a resounding success. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman patted himself on the back for predicting back in 1994 that the whole Asian escapade was just a bubble, “all perspiration, no inspiration”. “Six Deadly Sins”, “The Economist”, 1998: 12-14.