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Three Worlds theory


A theory that sees the world as being divided into three main blocs of countries, defined by their economic status. These are the developed capitalist economies (the First World), the developed communist countries (the Second World), and underdeveloped countries (the Third World), covering most of Latin America and recently independent African and Asian states.


The Third World countries tend to adopt a position of neutrality, thereby dividing the world politically in three. The large number and diversity of Third World nations makes an adequate definition impossible: the concept includes the oil-rich countries alongside the poorest countries. Some (including the United Nations) recognize a 'Fourth World', of the 25 poorest nations. The collapse of the Communist states after 1989 makes the typology somewhat redundant, although the term Third World is likely to persist due to its extensive usage.