Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

1st 2nd 3rd World Countries

  1. Dec 27, 2003 #1


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So actually what are the criteria for classification and more importantly, how is the distribution nowadays (what percentage of the world is 1st, 2nd or 3rd) and is it changing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    1st world countries were the Western European countries, the United, States, Canada, Austrailia, Japan, etc. i.e. the developed nations.

    2nd world countries were the communist bloc countires; the USSR, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, East Germany, etc.

    3rd world countries were all the rest.
  4. Dec 27, 2003 #3
    It's not really a very clever system. It was more propaganda than reality.

    1st world were those allied with the USA during the Cold War.

    2nd world were those allied with the USSR.

    3rd world were the poor, undeveloped nations that neither side really gave a damn about.

    "The West" is another ridiculous term thrown about stupidly by the news services, in an attempt to bolster Bush's drive to divide us all into two camps, those being "with us, or against us" (his actual words). During the age when France was pretty much the core of diplomatic relations (this is why some refer to French as the language of diplomacy), everything west of there was called The West. This included Britain and the Americas. The East was eastern Europe, the Middle East is what it is now, and the Far East was Asia. Now, idiotic newsreaders are using "The West" to label anyone allied with the USA, no matter who they are or where they are.
  5. Dec 27, 2003 #4
    There are other 2nd-world countries beside former Soviet Bloc ones. Mexico, (I would think that Israel falls in this category, but I may be incorrect), possibly New Zealand, though I really don't know.
  6. Dec 27, 2003 #5
    Israel is very wealthy, has the second best military in the world, has the most educated citizens. I would not call it a second world nation.

    I would call China second world, but soon to be the most powerful nation.
  7. Dec 28, 2003 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Developed (industrialized), developing, undeveloped.
  8. Dec 28, 2003 #7
    Have I heard of oil-rich, primarily Moslem nations referred to as the 4th world?
  9. Dec 28, 2003 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I believe that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd world classification is obsolete.

    I've heard people use MDC and LDC - more developed countries and less developed countries as the new descriptors.
  10. Dec 28, 2003 #9
    I Totally agree ...

    Maybe it's time for you my friend to get the help of the doctor to check your ears...
    Jordan (Where I'm from) is not Oil produces country, and we're not a very rich country(according to our neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait & Qatar), but we were considered as a third- world country , but as engima said, that calssification is old, now we are considered as a developing country(Read Russ's Post)

    I wonder what is the use of such classification ? and what are the criterions to judge about the country whether it's developed or not as long as the (1st/2nd/3rd world country) has become old and kind of unusable ?
  11. Dec 28, 2003 #10
    Jordan looks like quite a developed place to me. Civilisation has been there for thousands of years, the capital looks spiffy. Dang, even the Americans name their cities after great Jordanian cities.

    There is no MDC and LDC. That's politically correct bollocks. The old 1st, 2nd, 3rd world idea was Cold War nonsense.

    Do we really need such categories? If so, I would suggest we divide them into Consumers and Producers. Australia, the USA, England, and other countries with organised labour unions are shipping labour overseas, since the unions drive the costs up so high. Countries like Indonesia, Thailand, et cetera get all the work, which eventually will stimulate their economies.
  12. Dec 28, 2003 #11

    I may be wrong still, but polish your glasses - I wrote "...primarily Moslem nations..."

    Face it, at the end of the day, cultural reductionism, generalizations and pigeonholing aren't helpful to any of us.
  13. Dec 29, 2003 #12


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I believe the current term for the old "third world" is "emerging nations". The WTO talks recently collapsed because the emerging nations (led by Brazil!) blocked a key resolution.
  14. Dec 29, 2003 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    There was a very good movie made twenty years ago about the fall of the Samoza regime in Nicaragua, Under Fire. In it, one of the rebels utters the line, "The world is not divided into East and West anymore, but into North and South." At the time, it seemed foolish. Now it seems prophetic.

  15. Dec 31, 2003 #14
    Yes, as selfAdjoint pointed out, 3rd world countries are the so called "developing world", which contain about 5/6 of the world population.
  16. Jan 1, 2004 #15
    what I meant is, we are not so rich country, but we are developing and were considered as 3rd world country... so, that was kind of proof that the countries with better economey will be at least higher rankt that us (or same level)...

    I agree, therefore let's forget about it....
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?