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The term "Third World" arose during the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...
to define countries that remained non-aligned with either
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. The ...
or the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven o ...
. The
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...

Canada
,
Japan | image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg | alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle | image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg | alt_coat = Golden circle subdivided ...
,
South Korea South Korea (Korean: /, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, MR: ''Namchosŏn'' in North Korean usage), officially the Republic of Korea (ROK; Korean: /, RR: ''Daehan Minguk''), is a country in East Asia, constituting the ...
,
Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe farthest from Asia, with the countries and territories included varying depending on context. After the beginning of foreign exploration in the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept ...
an nations and their allies represented the "
First World The concept of First World originated during the Cold War and comprised countries that were aligned with United States and the rest of NATO and opposed the Soviet Union and/or communism during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union ...
", while the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...
,
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million m ...
,
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es|República de Cuba|links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Car ...
, and their allies represented the "
Second World The Second World is a term used during the Cold War for the industrial socialist states that were under the influence of the Soviet Union. In the first two decades following World War II, 19 communist states emerged; all of these were at least or ...
". This terminology provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on political and economic divisions. Since the
fall of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus|Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за|r=Razvál Sovétskovo Sojúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. (1988–1991) was the process of internal disintegration wi ...
and the
end of the Cold War End, END, Ending, or variation, may refer to: End *In mathematics: **End (category theory) **End (topology) **End (graph theory) **End (group theory) (a subcase of the previous) **End (endomorphism) *In sports and games **End (gridiron football) * ...
, the term ''Third World'' has decreased in use. It is being replaced with terms such as
developing countries 450px| Example of Older Classifications by the IMF and the UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is n ...
,
least developed countries#REDIRECT Least developed countries#REDIRECT Least developed countries {{Redirect category shell| {{R from move ...
{{Redirect category shell| {{R from move ...
or the
Global South The Global South is a term often used to identify lower income countries on one side of the so-called global North–South divide, the other side being the countries of the Global North. As such the term does not inherently refer to a geograph ...
. The concept itself has become outdated as it no longer represents the current political or economic state of the world and historically poor countries have transited different income levels. The Third World was normally seen to include many countries with colonial pasts in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
,
Latin America * pt|América Latina|link=no |image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg |area = |population = ( est.) |density = |religions = |demonym = Latin American |countries = 20 |dependencies = 14 |languages = Romance languages Ot ...
,
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, ...
and
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
. It was also sometimes taken as synonymous with countries in the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. Drawing on the principles agre ...
. In the
dependency theory Dependency theory is the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former. It is a central contention of dependency theory that poor s ...
of thinkers like
Raúl Prebisch Raúl Prebisch (April 17, 1901April 29, 1986) was an Argentine economist known for his contributions to structuralist economics such as the Prebisch–Singer hypothesis, which formed the basis of economic dependency theory. He became the executive ...
,
Walter Rodney Walter Anthony Rodney (23 March 1942 – 13 June 1980) was a prominent Guyanese historian, political activist and academic. He was assassinated in 1980. Early career Walter Rodney was born in 1942 into a working-class family. Rodney attended ...
,
Theotônio dos Santos Theotônio dos Santos Junior (Carangola, 11 November 1936 Rio de Janeiro, 27 February 2018) was a Brazilian economist. He was one of the formulators of the Dependency Theory and supported the World-System theory. Dos Santos had a bachelor's deg ...
, and
Andre Gunder Frank Andre Gunder Frank (February 24, 1929 – April 25, 2005) was a German-American sociologist and economic historian who promoted dependency theory after 1970 and world-systems theory after 1984. He employed some Marxian concepts on political ec ...
, the Third World has also been connected to the world-systemic economic division as "periphery" countries dominated by the countries comprising the economic "core". Due to the complex history of evolving meanings and contexts, there is no clear or agreed-upon definition of the Third World. Some countries in the
Communist Bloc#REDIRECT Eastern Bloc {{R from other capitalisation ...
, such as
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es|República de Cuba|links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Car ...
, were often regarded as "Third World". Because many Third World countries were economically poor and non-industrialized, it became a
stereotype Police officers buying doughnuts and coffee, an example of perceived stereotypical behavior in North America. In social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that peo ...
to refer to developing countries as "third world countries", yet the "Third World" term is also often taken to include
newly industrialized countries The category of newly industrialized country (NIC), newly industrialized economy (NIE) or middle income country is a socioeconomic classification applied to several countries around the world by political scientists and economists. They represen ...
like Brazil, China and India now more commonly referred to as part of
BRIC BRIC is a grouping acronym which refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China deemed to be developing countries at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development, on their way to becoming developed countries. It is typical ...
. Historically, some European countries were non-aligned and a few of these were and are very prosperous, including
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich|links=no, ), is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine federated states (''Bund ...
,
Ireland Ireland (; ga|Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, ...

Ireland
,
Sweden Sweden (; sv|Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv|links=no|Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingd ...
,
Finland Finland ( fi|Suomi ; sv|Finland , ), officially the Republic of Finland (, ), is a Nordic country located in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gul ...
and
Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it|svizzero/svizzera or , rm|Svizzer/Svizra |government_type = Federal semi-direct democracy under a multi-party assembly-independent directorial republic |leader_title1 = Federal Council |leader_name ...
.


Etymology

French demographer, anthropologist and historian
Alfred Sauvy Alfred Sauvy (31 October 1898 – 31 October 1990) was a demographer, anthropologist and historian of the French economy. Sauvy coined the term Third World ("Tiers Monde") in reference to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Sovie ...
, in an article published in the French magazine '' L'Observateur'', August 14, 1952, coined the term ''Third World'' (French: ''Tiers Monde''), referring to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War.Gregory, Derek et al. (Eds.) (2009). Dictionary of Human Geography (5th Ed.), Wiley-Blackwell. His usage was a reference to the
Third Estate 250px|A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The estates of the realm, or three estates ...
, the commoners of France who, before and during the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of Western liberal de ...
, opposed the clergy and nobles, who composed the First Estate and Second Estate, respectively. Sauvy wrote, "This third world ignored, exploited, despised like the third estate also wants to be something." He conveyed the concept of political non-alignment with either the capitalist or communist bloc.


Related concepts


Third World vs. Three Worlds

The "Three Worlds Theory" developed by
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong (; pronounced , (formerly romanized as Mao Tse-tung), December 26, 1893September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which he ru ...

Mao Zedong
is different from the Western theory of the Three Worlds or Third World. For example, in the Western theory, China and India belong respectively to the second and third worlds, but in Mao's theory both China and India are part of the Third World which he defined as consisting of exploited nations.


Third Worldism

Third Worldism is a political movement that argues for the unity of third-world nations against first-world influence and the principle of non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs. Groups most notable for expressing and exercising this idea are the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. Drawing on the principles agre ...
(NAM) and the
Group of 77 The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of 134 developing countries, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding me ...
which provide a base for relations and diplomacy between not just the third-world countries, but between the third-world and the first and second worlds. The notion has been criticized as providing a
fig leaf A statue of Mercury holding the Vatican, with a fig leaf placed over the genitalia. The fig leaf was placed there under the more "[[chaste">Apostolic Palace">Vatican, with a fig leaf placed over the genitalia. The fig leaf was placed there under t ...
for human rights violations and [[political repression by [[dictatorships. Since 1990, this term has been redefined to make it more correct politically. Initially, the term “third world” meant that a nation is “under-developed”. However, today it is replaced by the term “developing.” The world today is more plural, and so the third world is not just an economic state. These nations have overcome many setbacks and are now developing rapidly. Thus, this categorization becomes anachronistic in a diverse society..


Great Divergence and Great Convergence

Many times there is a clear distinction between First and Third Worlds. When talking about the Global North and the
Global South The Global South is a term often used to identify lower income countries on one side of the so-called global North–South divide, the other side being the countries of the Global North. As such the term does not inherently refer to a geograph ...
, the majority of the time the two go hand in hand. People refer to the two as "Third World/South" and "
First World The concept of First World originated during the Cold War and comprised countries that were aligned with United States and the rest of NATO and opposed the Soviet Union and/or communism during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union ...
/North" because the Global North is more affluent and developed, whereas the Global South is less developed and often poorer. To counter this mode of thought, some scholars began proposing the idea of a change in world dynamics that began in the late 1980s, and termed it the Great Convergence.Korotayev A., Zinkina J
On the structure of the present-day convergence. ''Campus-Wide Information Systems''. Vol. 31 No. 2/3, 2014, pp. 139-152
/ref> As [[Jack A. Goldstone and his colleagues put it, "in the twentieth century, the [[Great Divergence peaked before the First World War and continued until the early 1970s, then, after two decades of indeterminate fluctuations, in the late 1980s it was replaced by the Great Convergence as the majority of Third World countries reached economic growth rates significantly higher than those in most First World countries". Others have observed a return to Cold War-era alignments ([[Mark MacKinnon|MacKinnon, 2007; [[Edward Lucas (journalist)|Lucas, 2008), this time with substantial changes between 1990–2015 in geography, the world economy and relationship dynamics between current and emerging world powers; not necessarily redefining the classic meaning of ''First'', ''Second'', and ''Third World'' terms, but rather which countries belong to them by way of association to which world power or coalition of countries — such as [[G7, the [[European Union, [[OECD; [[G20, [[OPEC, [[BRICS, [[ASEAN; the [[African Union, and the [[Eurasian Union.


History

Most Third World countries are former [[Colony|colonies. Having gained independence, many of these countries, especially smaller ones, were faced with the challenges of nation- and institution-building on their own for the first time. Due to this common background, many of these nations were "[[Developing country|developing" in economic terms for most of the 20th century, and many still are. This term, used today, generally denotes countries that have not developed to the same levels as [[OECD countries, and are thus in the process of ''developing''. In the 1980s, economist [[Peter Thomas Bauer|Peter Bauer offered a competing definition for the term "Third World". He claimed that the attachment of Third World status to a particular country was not based on any stable economic or political criteria, and was a mostly arbitrary process. The large diversity of countries considered part of the Third World — from Indonesia to Afghanistan — ranged widely from economically primitive to economically advanced and from politically non-aligned to Soviet- or Western-leaning. An argument could also be made for how parts of the U.S. are more like the Third World. The only characteristic that Bauer found common in all Third World countries was that their governments "demand and receive Western aid," the giving of which he strongly opposed. Thus, the aggregate term "Third World" was challenged as misleading even during the Cold War period, because it had no consistent or collective identity among the countries it supposedly encompassed.


Development aid

During the Cold War, unaligned countries of the Third WorldTomlinson, B.R. (2003). "What was the Third World", ''[[Journal of Contemporary History'', 38(2): 307–321. were seen as potential allies by both the First and Second World. Therefore, the United States and the Soviet Union went to great lengths to establish connections in these countries by offering economic and military support to gain strategically located alliances (e.g., the United States in Vietnam or the Soviet Union in Cuba). By the end of the Cold War, many Third World countries had adopted capitalist or communist economic models and continued to receive support from the side they had chosen. Throughout the Cold War and beyond, the countries of the Third World have been the priority recipients of Western [[foreign aid and the focus of economic development through mainstream theories such as modernization theory and dependency theory. By the end of the 1960s, the idea of the Third World came to represent countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that were considered underdeveloped by the West based on a variety of characteristics (low economic development, low life expectancy, high rates of poverty and disease, etc.). These countries became the targets for aid and support from governments, NGOs and individuals from wealthier nations. One popular model, known as [[Rostow's stages of growth, argued that development took place in 5 stages (Traditional Society; Pre-conditions for Take-off; Drive to Maturity; Age of High Mass Consumption).Westernizing the Third World (Ch 2), Routledge [[W. W. Rostow argued that ''Take-off'' was the critical stage that the Third World was missing or struggling with. Thus, foreign aid was needed to help kick-start industrialization and economic growth in these countries.


Perceived "End of the Third World"

Since 1990 the term "Third World" has been redefined in many evolving dictionaries in several languages to refer to countries considered to be underdeveloped economically and/or socially. From a "political correctness" standpoint the term "Third World" may be considered outdated, which its concept is mostly a historical term and cannot fully address what means by developing and less-developed countries today. Around the early 1960s, the term "underdeveloped countries" occurred and the Third World serves to be its synonym, but after it has been officially used by politicians, 'underdeveloped countries' is soon been replaced by 'developing' and 'less-developed countries,' because the prior one shows hostility and disrespect, in which the Third World is often characterized with stereotypes. The whole 'Four Worlds' system of classification has also been described as derogatory because the standard mainly focused on each nations' Gross National Product. While the Cold War Period ends and many sovereign states start to form, the term Third World becomes less usable. Nevertheless, it remains in popular use around the world, as it has grown to refer to not just lower levels of development but also something of low quality or in other ways deficient. The general definition of the Third World can be traced back to the history that nations positioned as neutral and independent during the Cold War were considered as Third World Countries, and normally these countries are defined by high poverty rates, lack of resources, and unstable financial standing. However, based on the rapid development of modernization and globalization, countries that were used to be considered as Third World countries achieve big economic growth, such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia, which can no longer be defined by poor economic status or low GNP today. The differences among nations of the Third World are continually growing throughout time, and it will be hard to use the Third World to define and organize groups of nations based on their common political arrangements since most countries live under diverse creeds in this era, such as Mexico, El Salvador, and Singapore, which they all have their own political system. The Third World categorization becomes anachronistic since its political classification and economic system are distinct to be applied in today's society. Based on the Third World standards, any region of the world can be categorized into any of the four types of relationships among state and society, and will eventually end in four outcomes: praetorianism, multi-authority, quasi-democratic and viable democracy. However, political culture is never going to be limited by the rule and the concept of the Third World can be circumscribed.


See also

*[[Fourth World


Notes


Further reading

* * * * * * * Melkote, Srinivas R. & Steeves, H. Leslie. (1991). Communication for development in the Third World: Theory and practice for Empowerment. New Delhi: SAGE Publications. * Sheppard, Eric & Porter, Wayland P. (1998). A world of difference: Society, nature, development. New York: Guilford Press. * * * *Nash, Andrew. "Third worldism." ''African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine de Sociologie'' 7.1 (2003): 94-116. {{Global economic classifications [[Category:Economic country classifications [[Category:Political terminology [[Category:Politics by region [[Category:Cold War terminology