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Third world

The Third World is the group of underdeveloped countries of the world. Many of these are located in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The populations of Third World countries are generally very poor but with high birth rates. In general they are not technologically advanced. The majority of the countries in the world fit this classification.

The term was coined by economist Alfred Sauvy in an article in the French magazine The Observer of August 14, 1952. It was a deliberate reference to the 'Third Estate' of the French Revolution. Tiers monde means Third World in French. The term gained widespread popularity during the Cold War when many poorer nations adopted the category to describe themselves as neither being aligned with NATO or the USSR, but instead composing a non-aligned[?] "Third World."

Leading members of this original "Third World" movement were Yugoslavia, Indonesia, and Egypt. Many Third World countries believed they could successfully court both the communist and capitalist nations of the world, and develop key economic partnerships without necessarily falling under their direct influence. In practice, this plan did not work out quite so well with many Third World nations getting exploited or undermined by the two superpowers who feared these supposedly neutral nations were in danger of falling into alignment with the enemy.

When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, the Third World found itself suddenly no longer relevant to much of the world. All across the globe, many Third World regimes that had stayed in power by playing one side against the other in the Cold War quickly crumbled from lack of support. In some situations corrupt dictatorships were removed, democracy was introduced, and the nations were able to make significant economic progress, creating several newly industrializing countries. In other cases the corrupt, outdated regimes remained, and their people soon became poorer than ever.

Also known as the Global South and least developed countries in academic circles.

See also: famine, drought, colonization, neocolonialism.

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