The Third World

With so many teams coming down each year and with my recent trip home, I’ve been asked a lot if El Salvador is a Third World country. I feel like there is a lot of confusion around this topic, so I thought I would try and simplify it here. Please keep in mind that I am not a scholar…this is very very simple!

The answer, for those of you who are already over this, is yes.  El Salvador is a Third World country.

It’s important to note that the term “Third World” is pretty outdated (originating in the Cold War Era) and considered by most to be politically incorrect. Apparently the correct terms now are “developing” and “developed” nations. Although that could take us into another argument of who determines when something is “developed.” But anyways…

There are four worlds. Here are some very simple definitions of terms that have actually not been given official definitions.

The First World: Think capitalist, developed, democratic countries with a large/strong middle class. Technically the only countries considered First World are the United States, Canada, most of Western Europe, Australia, and Japan.

The Second World: Think communist/socialist countries, planned economies, industrial states. Today this would be considered Russia, the Eastern Europe, some of the Turk States, and China. There are always exceptions, however. North Korea is considered Third World. Keeping this in mind, the Second World isn’t really a “step up” from the Third World…it’s its own world.

The Third World: All other countries.  That’s right, the majority of the world is considered the Third World.  These countries are usually poor, have a weak and small or non-existent middle class, high infant mortality rate, low literacy rate, and they typically strongly depend on other countries. Their are exceptions to every rule, however. Saudi Arabia is a very rich country and is Third World.

The Fourth World: Nations within a nations…indigenous people.

I hope this helps a little bit! In the long run, it doesn’t really matter all that much, but it’s always better to be informed!