The map above shows the First (Blue), Second (Yellow) and Third (Red) Worlds based on their Human Development Index (HDI) score.
“The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.”
These are further defined as:
- A long and healthy life: Life expectancy at birth
- Being knowledgeable: Mean years of schooling and Expected years of schooling
- A decent standard of living: GNI per capita (PPP US$)
Data for the map came from Wikipedia and the United Nations. For the purpose of this map, countries in the top third are First world countries, countries in the middle third are Second world countries and countries in the bottom third are Third world countries.
While interesting, these rankings should not be taken too seriously. The concept of First, Second and Third worlds developed out of the Cold War.
The First World was basically the United States and her allies. This included richer countries such as those in Western Europe and Japan, but could also include less developed countries, such as South Africa and the Philippines.
The Second World was the Soviet Union and her allies. However, while all members of the second world were communist, not all communist countries were part of the second world. Yugoslavia, broke with the Soviet Union early on and was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Finally, the Third World originally simply referred to countries that had not formally aligned with one of the two super powers. While most of the countries in the third world were less developed, it could also be used to refer to very prosperous countries that remained neutral during the cold war such as Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Finland and Ireland – although it was rarely if ever used to refer to these countries.
Interestingly, more than two decades after the end of the Cold War many, but by no means all, of the divisions still remain on the map.
The US, Japan and Korea are all there. However, the part of Europe that could be considered First World has shifted east with the Baltic states, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary now shifting from Second world to First world countries.
China and Russia remain Second world countries, because this is based on per capita income, not absolute economic size.
Finally, while many of the countries of the Third World remain less developed than the First World, many of these economies are growing the fastest and may soon catch-up with the rest.
You can learn more about the international development in general from the following books:
- The Age of Sustainable Development
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century
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From all of these flavors, you chose salty.
THERE’S NO WAY, Argentina is a first world country, NO WAY!!!
Juan Miguel Delgado says
They ended up very close to the borderline: Argentina at 40th and Uruguay at 52nd.
Juan Miguel Delgado says
More interestingly, Russia and Belarus felt short from the First World segment by a .002 margin.
Yup, I am from Argentina and was scratching my head on that one too.
LOL Brazil is a Second world!
Jan Mozol says
Not even fourth…
LOOOL The criteria of map is:
1st world: 0,800+ HDI
2nd world: 0,700+ HDI
3rd world: Anyone else.
So, by this criteria, Argentina is really 1stW and Uruguay is not, but is a very stupid way to classification.
Nic Tam says
Hong Kong and Macau should have been graphed separately from China for being first-worlds, with Hong Kong’s HDI being 0.91 and Macau’s being 0.894.
Carmen Culpepper Narvaez says
Thanks for taking the time to create and share this. I read through the full description you included, and learned some interesting things. As you stated, the rankings should not be taken too seriously, but are interesting to reflect upon from a historical perspective and in light of the fact that 1st/2nd/3rd world commentary is still used today, but usually to refer to economic level and status. Since that is what you were going for, it was helpful for me to view the rank by HDI. The grouping by HDI and colors gives a quick visual reference that is a good tool to have. I appreciate your work and effort, and encourage you to keep posting even with the negative comments and feedback.
You know this whole definition of First, Second, Third world countries is a joke when Greece is still considered a First world country and Turkey is not. A country that objectively beats it in all categories even fucking tourism. LMAO.
Only in your dreams…
What weed are you putting in your houkah? Most of Turkey is 2nd rate. The only relatively affluent areas are what is near Greece. The rest might as well be Syria. Most of Turkey’s tourists are the ones that cannot afford Greece (or rest of Europe) or wish to see the parts of Turkey that are near Greece. But you keep believing what your dictator is pushing on your government-owned media.
i dont think “Jebril” is from Turkey cuz we dont have that kind of name, also its not “our” dictator, i mean not everyone has to claim him right?
Muhamad Atma says
Syria is the first world, but the backward world and the irresponsible world are red
The interests of the great Powers are of a red color
It is a dirty world.
Langton Simeon says
..From Africa and being proud of it coz ….less satanism
Surely its intellectually bankrupt to match Saudi Arabia and countries like Australia, NA, and Europe as the same group. There is something very broken with their scales.
The concept behind this whole map is flawed. The “first world”, “second world” and “third world” are cold war concepts
The first world comprised largely western democratic developed nations that made up, or at least supported, NATO.
The second world was the Warsaw Pact countries and their allies – mostly partly-developed countries, but with less affluence than the first world.
The third world was simply any other non-aligned country – generally, though not always, these were developing nations.
Unfortunately, people still conflate the terms ‘third world’ and ‘developing nations’ as though they are the same thing. They are not the same thing at all, and this map just perpertuates that misapprehension.
You are right. However this map is still very useful in seeing the impact ideology has on culture and the ramifications those cultural presuppositions then have on prosperity and development 4 decades later.
Please, go read Factfullness by Hans Rosling.
First world = You throw the switch and expect the lights to go on and they do.
Second world = You throw the switch and you hope the lights go on, and sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
Third world = Not many lights and not many switches, if any.
The key is the electric grid, which is the ‘sine qua non’ of modern civilization.
Some nations have all three within their borders. Guess who.