The terms First World , Second World , and Third World were originally used to divide the world's nations into three categories. The complete overthrow of the pre–World War II status quo left two superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union) vying for ultimate global supremacy, a struggle known as the Cold War. They created two camps, known as blocs. These blocs formed the basis of the concepts of the First and Second Worlds.The Third World consisted of those countries that were not closely aligned with either bloc.
Today, the terms first and third worlds are generally used to refer to developed and developing countries.
Early in the Cold War era, NATO and the Warsaw Pact were created by the United States and the Soviet Union, respectively. They were also referred to as the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The circumstances of these two blocs were so different that they were essentially two worlds, however, they were not numbered first and second.The onset of the Cold War is marked by Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech. In this speech, Churchill describes the division of the West and East to be so solid that it could be called an iron curtain.
In 1952, the French demographer Alfred Sauvy coined the term Third World in reference to the three estates in pre-revolutionary France.The first two estates being the nobility and clergy and everybody else comprising the third estate. He compared the capitalist world (i.e., First World) to the nobility and the communist world (i.e., Second World) to the clergy. Just as the third estate comprised everybody else, Sauvy called the Third World all the countries that were not in this Cold War division, i.e., the unaligned and uninvolved states in the "East–West Conflict." With the coining of the term Third World directly, the first two groups came to be known as the "First World" and "Second World," respectively. Here the three-world system emerged.
However, Shuswap Chief George Manuel believed the three-worlds model to be outdated. In his 1974 book The Fourth World: An Indian Reality, he describes the emergence of the Fourth World while coining the term. The fourth world refers to "nations," e.g., cultural entities and ethnic groups, of indigenous people who do not compose states in the traditional sense.Rather, they live within or across state boundaries (see First Nations). One example is the Native Americans of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Eastern Bloc ceased to exist; with it, so did all applicability of the term Second World.
The Sinatra Doctrine was a Soviet foreign policy under Mikhail Gorbachev for allowing member states of the Warsaw Pact to determine their own internal affairs. The name jokingly alluded to the song "My Way" popularized by Frank Sinatra—the Soviet Union was allowing these states to go their own way. Its implementation was part of Gorbachev's doctrine of new political thinking.
The term "Third World" arose during the Cold War and it was used to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. The United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Western European nations and their allies represented the "First World", while the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and their allies represented the "Second World". This terminology provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on political divisions. Due to the complex history of evolving meanings and contexts, there is no clear or agreed-upon definition of the Third World. Strictly speaking, "Third World" was a political, rather than an economic, grouping.
Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's extent varies depending on context.
Eastern Europe is a subregion of the European continent. As a largely ambiguous term, it has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. The region stretches from the Ural Mountains in the east to the borders of Poland and Romania. Most definitions include the countries of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine while less restrictive definitions also include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
The domino theory is a geopolitical theory which posits that increases or decreases in democracy in one country tend to spread to neighboring countries in a domino effect. It was prominent in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s in the context of the Cold War, suggesting that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow. It was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War as justification for American intervention around the world. Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower described the theory during a news conference on 7 April 1954, when referring to communism in Indochina as follows:
Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.
The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc, and the Soviet Bloc, was the coalition of communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America under the power of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War (1947–1991). These states followed the ideology of Marxism–Leninism, in opposition to the capitalist Western Bloc. The Eastern Bloc was often called the "Second World", whereas the term "First World" referred to the Western Bloc and "Third World" referred to the non-aligned countries that were mainly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America but notably also included former pre-1948 Soviet ally Yugoslavia, which was located in Europe.
The concept of the First World was originally one of the "Three Worlds" formed by the global political landscape of the Cold War, as it grouped together those countries that were aligned with the Western Bloc of the United States. This grouping was directly opposed to the Second World, which similarly grouped together those countries that were aligned with the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union. However, as the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the definition largely shifted to instead refer to any country that boasts a well-functioning democratic system with little prospects of political risk, in addition to a strong rule of law, a capitalist economy with economic stability, and a high standard of living. Various ways in which these metrics are assessed are through the examination of a country's GDP, GNP, literacy rate, life expectancy, and Human Development Index. In colloquial usage, "First World" typically refers to "the highly developed industrialized nations often considered the Westernized countries of the world".
The Second World is one of the "Three Worlds" formed by the global political landscape of the Cold War, as it grouped together those countries that were aligned with the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union. This grouping was directly opposed to the First World, which similarly grouped together those countries that were aligned with the Western Bloc of the United States. It included communist states that were originally under the Soviet sphere of influence, though some eventually broke away from the Soviet ideology to develop their own path as socialist states while retaining their communist governments. Most communist states remained under Soviet influence until the Revolutions of 1989. In 1991, upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, only five communist states remained: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. Though the terms "First World" and "Third World" continue to see present-day relevance in colloquial speech, albeit with a repurposed definition, the term "Second World" is obsolete outside of a Cold War context.
The Bamboo Curtain is a Cold War political demarcation between the communist states of East Asia, particularly the People's Republic of China, and the capitalist and non-communist states of East, South, and Southeast Asia. To the north and northwest lay the communist states of China, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam, North Korea, and Mongolian People's Republic. To the south and east lay the capitalist and non-communist countries of India, Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, British Hong Kong, and Portuguese Macau. Before the Indochina Wars the non-communist bloc included French Indochina and its successor states South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. However, after the wars the new countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Democratic Kampuchea became communist states. In particular, following the Korean War, the Korean Demilitarized Zone became an important symbol of this Asian division.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported opposing sides in major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict was based on the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by these two superpowers, following their roles as the Allies of World War II that led to victory against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945. Aside from the nuclear arms race and conventional military deployment, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means, such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, sports diplomacy, and technological competitions like the Space Race.
The Cold War originated in the breakdown of relations between the two main victors in World War II: United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, in the years 1945–1949.
Alfred Sauvy was a demographer, anthropologist and historian of the French economy. Sauvy coined the term Third World in reference to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War.
The time period of around 1985–1991 marked the final period of the Cold War. It was characterized by systemic reform within the Soviet Union, the easing of geopolitical tensions between the Soviet-led bloc and the United States-led bloc, the collapse of the Soviet Union's influence in Eastern Europe, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In the field of international relations, the Three Worlds Theory of Mao Zedong proposed to the visiting Algerian President Houari Boumédiène in February 1974 that the international system operated as three contradictory politico-economic worlds. On April 10, 1974, at the 6th Special Session United Nations General Assembly, Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping applied the Three Worlds Theory during the New International Economic Order presentations about the problems of raw materials and development, to explain the PRC's economic co-operation with non-communist countries.
Contemporary history, in English-language historiography, is a subset of modern history that describes the historical period from approximately 1945 to the present. Contemporary history is either a subset of the late modern period, or it is one of the three major subsets of modern history, alongside the early modern period and the late modern period. In the social sciences, contemporary history is also continuous with, and related to, the rise of postmodernity.
Winston Churchill's Conservative Party lost the July 1945 general election, forcing him to step down as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. For six years he served as the Leader of the Opposition. During these years he continued to influence world affairs. In 1946 he gave his "Iron Curtain" speech which spoke of the expansionist policies of the Soviet Union and the creation of the Eastern Bloc; Churchill also argued strongly for British independence from the European Coal and Steel Community; he saw this as a Franco-German project and Britain still had an empire. In the General Election of 1951, Labour was defeated.
The Iron Curtain is a political metaphor used to describe the political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West, its allies and neutral states. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were NATO members, or connected to or influenced by the United States; or nominally neutral. Separate international economic and military alliances were developed on each side of the Iron Curtain. It later became a term for the 7,000-kilometre-long (4,300 mi) physical barrier of fences, walls, minefields, and watchtowers that divided the "east" and "west". The Berlin Wall was also part of this physical barrier.
After World War II, emigration restrictions were imposed by countries in the Eastern Bloc, which consisted of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe. Legal emigration was in most cases only possible in order to reunite families or to allow members of minority ethnic groups to return to their homelands.
The post–Cold War era is a period of history that follows the end of the Cold War, which represents history after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. This period saw many former Soviet republics become sovereign nations, as well as the introduction of market economies in eastern Europe. This period also marked the United States becoming the world's sole superpower.
The Cold War from 1947 to 1948 is the period within the Cold War from the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to the incapacitation of the Allied Control Council in 1948. The Cold War emerged in Europe a few years after the successful US–USSR–UK coalition won World War II in Europe, and extended to 1989–1991. It took place worldwide, but it had a partially different timing outside Europe. Some conflicts between the West and the USSR appeared earlier. In 1945–1946 the US and UK strongly protested Soviet political takeover efforts in Eastern Europe and Iran, while the hunt for Soviet spies made the tensions more visible. However, historians emphasize the decisive break between the US–UK and the USSR came in 1947–1948 over such issues as the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and the breakdown of cooperation in governing occupied Germany by the Allied Control Council. In 1947, Bernard Baruch, the multimillionaire financier and adviser to presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Harry S. Truman, coined the term "Cold War" to describe the increasingly chilly relations between three World War II Allies: the United States and British Empire together with the Soviet Union.