Third World

Third World, the technologically less advanced, or developing, nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, generally characterized as poor, having economies distorted by their dependence on the export of primary products to the developed countries in return for finished products. These nations also tend to have high rates of illiteracy, disease, and population growth and unstable governments. The term Third World was originally intended to distinguish the nonaligned nations that gained independence from colonial rule beginning after World War II from the Western nations and from those that formed the former Eastern bloc, and sometimes more specifically from the United States and from the former Soviet Union (the first and second worlds, respectively). For the most part the term has not included China. Politically, the Third World emerged at the Bandung Conference (1955), which resulted in the establishment of the Nonaligned Movement. Numerically, the Third World dominates the United Nations, but the group is diverse culturally and increasingly economically, and its unity is only hypothetical. The oil-rich nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya, and the newly emerged industrial states, such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, have little in common with desperately poor nations, such as Haiti, Chad, and Afghanistan.

See A. R. Kasdan, The Third World: A New Focus for Development (1973); E. Hermassi, The Third World Reassessed (1980); H. A. Reitsma and J. M. Kleinpenning, The Third World in Perspective (1985); J. Cole, Development and Underdevelopment (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The New Third World
Alfonso Gonzalez; Jim Norwine.
Westview Press, 1998 (2nd edition)
Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World
Arturo Escobar.
Princeton University Press, 1995 (3rd edition)
Third World Development: A Basic Needs Approach
Pradip K. Ghosh.
Greenwood Press, 1984
The Third World Security Predicament: State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System
Mohammed Ayoob.
Lynne Rienner, 1995
The Third World in Global Environmental Politics
Marian A. L. Miller.
Lynne Rienner, 1995
The Changing Political Economy of the Third World
Manochehr Dorraj.
Lynne Rienner, 1995
From Third World to World Class: The Future of Emerging Markets in the Global Economy
Peter Marber.
Perseus Books, 1998
Third World Debt and International Public Policy
Seamus O'Cleireacain.
Praeger Publishers, 1990
Foreign Aid and Third World Development
Pradip K. Ghosh.
Greenwood Press, 1984
Sustainable Development in Third World Countries: Applied and Theoretical Perspectives
Valentine Udoh James.
Praeger, 1996
Outsiders and Insiders: Perspectives of Third World Culture in British and Post-Colonial Fiction
Michael Harris.
Peter Lang, 1994
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