IS SWEDEN A ‘THIRD WORLD’ COUNTRY?
‘Third world’ is a term that came to use during the Cold War. The term was applied to delineate nations that were not aligned with capitalism, and also not aligned with communism. Today, this geopolitical stratification has become outdated.
FIRST WORLD: capitalist, NATO-oriented nations (USA, UK, Canada, etc…)
SECOND WORLD: communist nations, aligned with the USSR (Russia, Vietnam, Cuba, etc…)
THIRD WORLD: those nations unaligned with the 1st or 2nd Worlds (all others)
Considering the amount of open anti-Americanism I encounter abroad, I believe that most travelers who use the term ‘Third World’ would certainly cease to, if they were to become aware that the ‘rankings’ were drawn from a US-centric perspective.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Worlds were divided so not by their wealth or industrialization, but rather by their political alignment. For example, at the end of the American War in Vietnam (1975), Sweden and Finland were considered third-world countries, even as they enjoyed one of the world’s highest levels of development.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’ll call it a ham-n-cheese sandwich if I want to.”
Well, go ahead. But this matter of semantics carries a particular weight with it. For all those travelers I meet who speak negatively about the US and US foreign policy (that’s about 99.32% of non-Asian hostel-dwellers worldwide), please be aware that you are reinforcing that established American Cold War perspective. I personally prefer the energetic term “developing” over the outdated “Third World”, or “Akron”.