The term "Third World" arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned or not moving at all with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World) or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). This definition provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions.
The term continues to be used colloquially to describe the poorest countries in the world.
The economically underdeveloped countries particularly in the Middle East, South Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Oceania, considered as an entity with common characteristics, such as poverty, high birthrates, and economic dependence on the advanced countries. French demographer, anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy, in an article published in the French magazine L'Observateur, August 14, 1952, coined the term Third World, referring to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War. His usage was a reference to the Third Estate, the commoners of France who, before and during the French Revolution, opposed priests and nobles, who composed the First Estate and Second Estate, respectively. Sauvy wrote, "Like the third estate, the Third World is nothing, and wants to be something," He conveyed the concept of political non-alignment with either the capitalist or communist bloc.
As used by Sauvy, the term implied that the third world is exploited, much as the third estate was exploited, and that, like the third estate its destiny is a revolutionary one. It conveys as well a second idea, also discussed by Sauvy, that of non-alignment, for the third world belongs neither to the industrialized capitalist world nor to the industrialized Communist bloc. The expression third world was used at the 1955 conference of Afro-Asian countries held in Bandung, Indonesia. In 1956 a group of social scientists associated with Sauvy's National Institute of Demographic Studies, in Paris, published a book called Le Tiers-Monde. Three years later, the French economist Francois Perroux launched a new journal, on problems of underdevelopment, with the same title. By the end of the 1950s the term was frequently employed in the French media to refer to the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America.
The growing use of the term Developing World led to a growing sense of solidarity among the nations of the so-called Third World to unite against interference from either major bloc. In 1955, leaders of 29 countries from Asia and Africa met at the Bandung Conference to discuss cooperation. The First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, notably said:
Full article ▸