Third World


The third world is a term used to refer to nations with lower income levels. In turn, these countries also show a higher unemployment rate and low results in development indicators.

In other words, third world economies are those where gross domestic product (GDP) is lowest. But there is also high unemployment, poor quality infrastructure, low educational level, high malnutrition, poor quality public health, among other variables related to development.

Usually, the term third world is used interchangeably with that of underdeveloped or developing countries. These denominations are more accurate to refer to the nations with the lowest levels of well-being, mainly associated with Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Origin of the term

The term third world was created in the framework of the Cold War, when countries were classified into three types. Those of the first world were those highly industrialized and that were aligned with the capitalist ideas defended by the United States.

Likewise, the nations of the second world were supported by communism and, particularly, by the Soviet Union.

Finally, the third world countries, mainly from Asia and Africa, had not allied with either of the two aforementioned sides.

The creator of the term third world would be the Frenchman Alfred Suavy, who identified a group of countries, previously colonies, that shared neither American nor Soviet ideas. This was indicated in an article published in 1952 in the journal L'Observateur.

List of third world countries

As we mentioned earlier, the third world classification is outdated. But one way of knowing which countries could theoretically integrate this category would be to review the Human Development Index (HDI) prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

This indicator is updated every year and divides the countries into four levels of development: very high, high, medium and low. In this last category, mainly African states can be found, although Haiti also appears.

Underdeveloped country

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