Alfred Sauvy, a French demographer, coined the phrase “First World” in 1952 and used it extensively during the Cold War.
When the word was first used, it referred to a group of largely democratic and capitalist nations allied with NATO and the United States.
In contrast, countries in the “Second World” were mostly communist states politically associated with the Soviet Union. The third group of nations was referred to as “Third World” countries since they did not fall into the preceding two categories.
Those phrases’ connotations have shifted dramatically since the fall of the Soviet Union in early 1990, which heralded the end of the Cold War.
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Countries in the modern First World
The terms “First World nations” and “developed countries” are sometimes used interchangeably to describe countries that are widely regarded as having attained the pinnacle of development in many different areas.
Democracies in the first world are well-established and stable, with minimal danger of civil war or rebellion. Economies in these countries are well-established, inventive, and capitalistic.
The most sophisticated technology, best living standards, and biggest global impact may be found in First World nations.
The phrase “First World” is a subjective one. Hence there is no one-size-fits-all list of First World nations. However, a few basic requirements must be met before a country can be considered a First World nation.
In addition to economic criteria such as GDP and GNP, many assessors consider extra aspects such as expected lifespan and literacy rates.
As one of such assessors, UN Human Development Index is among the world’s most widely regarded studies on the quality of life for each country. “Very high human development,” which approximately translates to a First World nation, is defined as an HDI score of 0.800 or above.
In the table below, you’ll find the most current HDI rankings, which include the 66 nations that will be recognized in the 2020 report.
Some more lists of nations regarded to be in the First World include those from the International Monetary Fund, the CIA, and the World Bank, including lists of countries with developed economies.
The First World Countries of the Modern Era
First World nations would have included the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, and West Germany under the original meaning of the phrase in the 1950s Cold War period.
Several historians would have also included non-Nato allies such as some or all of Australia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, and Thailand, and neutral but Western-aligned Austria, Ireland, and Sweden in their list of allies.
However, it is vital to remember that these lists would be historical and would not be relevant today.
Countries of the Third and Second Worlds of the Modern World
“First World nations” evolved after the Cold War, taking on its modern meaning. As a result, the United Nations now refers to nations in the Third World as “developing countries” or “least developed countries” (lists at the links).
In contrast, the phrase “Second World nations” has largely lost its significance after the collapse of the communist bloc, which it originally signified. Here is a complete number of nations and their HDI ratings (those with scores of 0.800 or above are considered First World nations).
Sources disagree with Sauvy’s claim that he coined the phrase. Others say Charles De Gaulle coined the phrase, while others assert that the United Nations first used it in an economic context back in 1945.
|Ranking||Country||Human Development Index||2022 Population|
|31||United Arab Emirates||0.8900||10081.7850|