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Lessons of Experience

What is the definition of a third world country? In recent years, the term has come to define countries that have high poverty rates, economic instability and lack basic human necessities like access to water, shelter or food for its citizens. These countries are often underdeveloped, and in addition to widespread poverty, they also have high mortality rates.

The first world refers to the countries that are more developed and industrialized societies; in other words, capitalist societies that aligned with the U.

___ First, Second and Third World

Second world countries refer to the countries that lean more toward a socialist society, and generally were allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These countries include Russia, Poland, China and some Turk states.

Third world countries are all the other countries that did not pick a side. This includes most of Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, this definition includes countries that are economically stable, which does not fit the currently accepted definition of a third world country. They also have an unstable and inconsistent economy. Today, the term Third World is used to describe a country that is not developed as much as other countries and faces economic, social, political, environmental and other issues.

This has led to some confusion as to how the term was originally used. For example, there were several European countries that were not aligned with NATO or the Communist Bloc that are quite prosperous today. Going by the historical definition, nations including Finland , Sweden , Ireland and Switzerland were Third World countries. Based on the definition that is used today, these would not be considered Third World countries. Instead, it is being replaced with terms including least developed countries, developing countries and the Global South.

Third World Countries in terms of political rights and civil liberties.

These countries have weaknesses in areas including nutrition, education and literacy, have economic vulnerabilities, and have widespread poverty. Mexico is considered to be both a Third World country and a developing country. By the current definition, Mexico is a developing country.


  1. Understanding Institutional Diversity?
  2. First, Second, and Third World - Nations Online Project.
  3. From Heart to Pen.

Poverty and lack of basic education are both issues throughout Mexico, as well as underdeveloped neighborhoods. Mexico, however, does have an institutionalized government, a law system, public healthcare, public education, and infrastructure.

The Rise and Fall of the Term ‘Third World’ - WSJ

India is considered to be a Third World country and is also a developing country today. India has a high poverty rate, corruption, an outdated caste system, and other significant issues that have stunted its development. Brazil is considered to be a Third World country, based on the historical definition, and a developing country. The Philippines is historically a Third World country and currently a developing country.

The Best Of Third World - Third World Greatest Hits

The GDP per capita is low and the infant mortality rate is high. Many of its citizens lack access to health care and higher education as well. Vietnam is a developing country today and is developing quickly partially in part to its shift to a market economy. Vietnam is aiming to become a developed country within the next couple of years.