These days, if you ask a hundred people In The Street to name three Third World countries, they will all come up with ones like Burundi, Haiti and Somalia (if you LIVE in one of those countries, I am sorry – that you live in one of those countries).
On the other hand, ask another hundred to name three First World countries and most will name the likes of America, Japan – and any country in Western Europe.
But if you ask yet another hundred to name three SECOND World countries – they will generally look puzzled.
Although some smart-arses might pick countries like China, Thailand or Brazil; their thinking being that since First World countries are “developed” – and Third World countries are “undeveloped” – then Second World countries must be developING.
However, those smart-arses would be WRONG.
Originally, the term Third World country had nothing to DO with a country’s level of development – it was POLITICAL.
Back in the days of the Cold War, a system evolved where all of the countries in the World had to pick a side, between America (NATO: the First World) and Russia (the Communist Bloc: the Second World).
And those who shunned BOTH were termed – the Third World.
Of course, since America and Russia THEMSELVES effectively did the picking (AND changed their minds when it suited them) the countries passed over were inevitably the ones neither WANTED – which were invariably those without money, resources or geographical relevance.
But with the Cold War having long ago been WON by America (they CHEATED) those political alignments have now become fuzzy, anachronistic and largely irrelevant.
Thus the expression Third World country survives only as a damning indictment of those lands that civilisation forgot. I.e. – any rat-infested sh*t-hole of a country that is definitely NOT on your list of holiday destinations.
But reverting back to the TRUE meaning of the Third World, it is amusing to note that technically – it being determinedly neutral – SWITZERLAND is a Third World country.
Consider THAT – the next time you pay for a cup of coffee in Zürich…