We frequently hear about and refer to the Third World, and we all know we’re talking about the least developed nations in the world. But did you ever stop to wonder why it’s the third world, and where the first two worlds are? Do you feel like this is something you should already know?
The three-world paradigm originates in the political post-WWII breakdown of how the world was viewed. The First World were the democratic, industrial countries aligned with the United States and living within their sphere of influence. The Second World were the socialist and communist Eastern Bloc countries living within the sphere of influence of the USSR. The remaining countries, not aligned with either, were referred to as the Third World. In the 1970s the idea of the Fourth World was introduced: unknown indigenous “nations” or cultural entities living within other national state boundaries, but this didn’t catch on.