4. Thailand: Like the rest of its neighbors, Thailand suffered during the late-1990s East Asian financial crisis, when the devaluation of the Chinese currency suddenly made Southeast Asia uncompetitive. But as the renminbi has appreciated over the last few years, while Chinese wages have risen, the region, and Thai manufacturing in particular, is competitive again. Thailand's wild card is the seemingly never-ending political tension between capital and countryside. If Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra can contain it, Thailand is in a strong position to prosper as the central trade corridor of the Greater Mekong.
5. Poland: Poland, which entered the European Union in 2004, is a case study of a country in the "sweet spot" -- the period after a member state enters the EU but before it adopts the euro. It is stable, attracting investment, and benefiting from EU subsidies, and it has made required reforms to financial institutions and curbed its deficits to meet EU requirements. At the same time, it suffers none of the instability that comes with adopting the euro (see Portugal and Spain). It continues to grow much faster than the European average and is in no hurry to join the euro. In fact, Poland recently confirmed its status as a model European reformer with a tough pension overhaul that raised the retirement age to 67, at a time when many Europeans still retire in their late 50s.
6. Sri Lanka: The outbreak of war has derailed many high-growth economies, but few for as long as Sri Lanka, where the uprising of Tamil rebels that began in the 1980s did not end until just a few years ago. It was a miracle that the Sri Lankan economy was able to grow at even 4 to 5 percent during the war years, when nearly 30 percent of the landmass and 15 percent of the population had been cut off by the fighting. Now the country is reincorporating the provinces once controlled by the rebels, and, with its strategic location on shipping routes between India and China and a highly literate population, Sri Lanka is poised to grow much more rapidly.
7. Nigeria: In a country plagued for years by corrupt leaders, President Goodluck Jonathan has committed himself to reform, encouraging investment in Nigerian agriculture, oil and natural gas, and, most importantly, electrical power. For now, the whole country generates only as much electricity as some small towns in England, and this lack of a reliable power supply has made Nigeria one of the world's most expensive markets for operating a business. But the key in a place like Nigeria is that it doesn't take much to grow from a very low base, given its per capita income of just $1,500. The landmark change from bad to good leadership, now focused on improving basic infrastructure and boosting investment, may be enough to make Nigeria among the world's fastest-growing economies over the next five years -- and in the process make it the largest economy on the African continent.