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 post–World War II status quo, known as the Cold War, left two (originally three) superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union) vying for ultimate global supremacy. They created two camps, known as blocs. These blocs formed the basis of the concepts of the First and Second Worlds.
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However, Shuswap Chief George Manuel believed the three-worlds model to be outdated.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 Cold War (1947–1953) is the period within the Cold War from the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. 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 1989–91. 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.
"Sinatra Doctrine" was the name that the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev used jokingly to describe its policy of allowing neighboring Warsaw Pact states to determine their own internal affairs. The name 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 to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. The United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, 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. Strictly speaking, "Third World" was a political, rather than an economic, grouping. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the term Third World has decreased in use. It is being replaced with terms such as developing countries, least developed countries or the Global South. 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 stages.
Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context.
Eastern Europe is an ambiguous term that refers to the eastern portions of the European continent. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. Russia, a transcontinental country with around 23 percent of its landmass situated in Eastern Europe, is the largest European country by area, spanning roughly 40 percent of Europe's total landmass; it is also the most populous European country, with the majority of its citizens residing in its European portion and consequently comprising over 15 percent of the continent's population.
The domino theory is a geopolitical theory that was prominent in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s which posited that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to justify the need for American intervention around the world.
The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference, held 4–11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Secretary Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov palaces.
The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War (1945–1991). 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 SFR Yugoslavia, which was located in Europe.
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 in 1991, the definition has instead largely shifted to any country with little political risk and a well-functioning democracy, rule of law, capitalist economy, economic stability, and high standard of living. Various ways in which modern First World countries are usually determined include GDP, GNP, literacy rates, life expectancy, and the Human Development Index. In common usage, "first world" typically refers to "the highly developed industrialized nations often considered the westernized countries of the world".
The Second World was 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 originally within the Soviet sphere of influence, though some broke with Moscow and developed their own path of socialism while retaining Communist governments. Most communist states remained part of this bloc until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991; afterwards, only five Communist states remained: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam. Along with "First World" and "Third World", the term was used to divide the states of Earth into three broad categories.
The Bamboo Curtain is a Cold War political demarcation between the Communist states of East Asia, particularly 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, which began following World War II. Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine on 12 March 1947 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26 December 1991. The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict was based around the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by these two superpowers, following their temporary alliance and victory against Nazi Germany in 1945. Aside from the nuclear arsenal development and conventional military deployment, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the Space Race.
The Cold War originated in the breakdown of relations between the 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.
This is a timeline of the main events of the Cold War, a state of and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc and powers in the Eastern Bloc.
The Cold War period of 1985–1991 began with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was a revolutionary leader for the USSR, as he was the first to promote liberalization of the political landscape (Glasnost) and the economy (Perestroika); prior to this, the USSR had been strictly prohibiting liberal reform and maintained a command economy. The USSR, despite facing massive economic difficulties, was involved in a costly arms race with the United States under President Ronald Reagan. Regardless, the USSR began to crumble as liberal reforms proved difficult to handle and capitalist changes to the economy were badly instituted and caused major problems. The Cold War came to an end when the last war of Soviet occupation ended in Afghanistan, the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, a series of mostly peaceful revolutions swept the Soviet Bloc states of eastern Europe in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed and formally dissolved itself from existence in 1991.
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 term describing 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 and its allied 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 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.
Emigration from the Eastern Bloc was a point of controversy during the Cold War. 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 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.