1st v 2nd v 3rd World

Wow, nice to know some people are thankful for the time others spend researching something for someone who has asked for proof. This hasn’t happened to me yet on this forum. I’ve provided ‘proof’ on a few occasions, and each time, the original interrogator, never showed up thereafter to acknowledge having even so much as read it.

As for people questioning the validity of your own personal experiences, statements, and even the truth about them, I know exactly what you mean. This also happens to me here, and more specifically in my ever-so-disputed Blog. Someone has even gone so far as to misdiagnose an injury of mine, though, had they have just read the Blog with a little more care, they would have clearly understood that their misinterpretation was already clarified in my original post. So after RE explaining for them this old news that they re-hashed, they too didn’t show the slightest acknowledgement.

Some people pick at others by trying to find any weak point about someone’s statements, perhaps for some it is done in order to appease their own validity; instead of being constructive and progressive about it by building upon it. In that sense, debating is one thing, questioning and even making honest mistakes is another (it’s actually healthy and maintains a level of educative progressiveness); but what use is there in discussing anything with someone who refuses to take reality (your words and own experiences, even other ‘facts’) as honest?? There is no basis for argument there; and even more obviously so when that very person questioning the validity disappears once you have given another perspective.

Taiwan certainly has characteristics of a developed nation, especially economically; but as Bu Lai En has found it, and so have I, there are still some discrepencies in the attitudes; etc… when comparing to other nations (where suicide rates, illegal business and property statistics, cases of rotting teeth, animal neglect, cancer growth rates and traffic death rates are much lower). Much like your pretty little drive to Taipei 101 down palm tree lined XinYi Lou, with inexcusable death traps along the pavement.

I haven’t found any proof of Taiwan being internationally recognized as ‘1st world’ / developed, as a matter of fact I’ve encountered plenty to display otherwise (some listed on an earlier post in this thread). The terms 1st,2nd and 3rd world are indeed thought by many to be ‘unkosher’ (as also explained on a link earlier in this thread), but regardless of the terminology we may voluntarily use to define certain phenomenons in our world, there are differences in many things, including the ways in which countries and the economy, politics and people (culture) function within them.

If we strip away the general outlook on them, there will always be discrepencies within each individual case, yet the point is to find a relative comparison between each one in order to adress one issue at a time - top to bottom - first the pervasive and general issues that affect a majority, then (maybe decades or hundreds of years from now) to remaining individual problems. Looking at a country simply based on one or two aspects (ie: GDP) is also a general view. I think more and more research organizations and think tanks are awakening to stripping apart general criteria and basing the relativity on more criteria. I think this is a positive sign of progress. Slowly, we are able to specify more and more. Not only have some even recognized a 4th world, and even a Least Developed Countries criteria, but for most all of those ‘ranks’ more crieteria is being recognized. It just takes time to get to the problem solving level I am sure most of us want to be at.

I agree, although for a different reason - I think it’s useless to discuss it because it makes no difference. What does it really matter? You’re here now, and whether you choose to make a go of it or just piss and moan about it isn’t going to change a damn thing regarding whether it’s first, second, third, or whatever world.

[quote=“www.nationsonline.org”][url=http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/third_world_countries.htm]The use of the terms First, the Second, and the Third World is a rough, and it’s safe to say, outdated model of the geopolitical world from the time of the cold war.

“Third World” are all the other countries, today often used to roughly describe the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The term Third World includes as well capitalist (e.g., Venezuela) and communist (e.g., North Korea) countries as very rich (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and very poor (e.g., Mali) countries.[/url]


To me it appears the first/second/third world labels are useless. I’ve seen no definitions for any of the words, just fuzzy generalizations (besides the outdated use).

If there was a crisp definition for any of the terms, there would be no need for discussion (or it would be clearer as to whether Taiwan was 1st/3rd world).

But wikipedia says a first world country is a developed country.

If you choose to use wikipedia definition (which it not an “official” difinition) I think it’s clear that it would now be considered a 1st world country. If you choose to use the map and definitions above, I pity you. ( :laughing: pity - miltownkid’s word for the month)

It might be cool to discuss the economy of a whole country, but Taipei is definitely NOT 3rd world.

Most of what I knew about the first, second, and third world debate came from political science class. Like I said, Taiwan was classified as a third world country, but the meaning of what third world was was completely different then. When the second world (U.S.S.R) basically collapsed, those terms became obsolete, and were replaced by “developed” and “developing”. Maybe the term third world stuck in people’s minds and they still use it in conversation, but it is definitely no longer used by bodies like the WTO.
So, you won’t find proof that Taiwan is a first world country, because it was never defined as such (i.e. grouped with the U.S.A, completely different meaning), but it is defined today as developed. And of course anybody is free to disagree with that based on their own ideas of what developed and developing should be.
Tetsuo, I agree with you. I don’t think it is irrelevant to discuss one’s feelings about Taiwan, but only to try to define it as first, second, and third world because those terms are irrelevant today. It is more useful to discuss the terms “developed” and “developing” then if you feel you have to.

Actually that touches on another element of the whole thing. Looking at it, surely another possible definition of first, second, and third worlds could be “White and US-friendly”/“Anti-US Pinkos”/“Brown or yellow people”. There’s only a couple of countries that throw that off.

My comments were left on the other thread so I want to restate:

I don’t think anyone calling it a third world country has actually been to a real third world country. Taiwan is certainly a first world country, but the fact that it has modernised so quickly means that third world attitudes and culture still prevail in many areas and Taiwan experiences problems due to rapid modernisation that older first world countries do not.

As for ‘proof’ - asking for proof is just silly, but we can look at de\fintions and see what fits.

First, second, third world - used in its original context is an outdated, largely political set of definitions. However the terms first and third world have continued to be used and become synonymous with underdeveloped or dveloping nations and developed nations. These terms are largely used int he context of economics.

If you look at the economy of Taiwan, it is clearly ‘developed’ or ‘first world’, outranking nations such as New Zealand. As I said already, I seriously doubt those calling Taiwan a ‘third world country’ have been to a real third world country like Laos or somewhere.

In short, no way is Taiwan a third world or developing nation.

Now here’s some more defintions:


[quote]third world

Underdeveloped or developing countries, as in The conditions in our poorest rural areas resemble those in the third world. This expression originated in the mid-1900s, at first denoting those countries in Asia and Africa that were not aligned with either the Communist bloc nations or the non-Communist Western nations. Because they were for the most part poor and underdeveloped, the term was transferred to all countries with those characteristics, and later still to poorer groups within a larger prevailing culture.[/quote]

Taiwan doesn’t fit those defintions (unless you argue that Taiwan is a developing nation of Asia, but see below.

Wikipedia for ‘Third World’:

Taiwan aligned with the West - not third world.

Taiwan, unrecognised by the UN, does not appear on the UN HDI, which measures such things as poverty, literacy, education and life-expectancy, but if it did. it would probably be int he top 30 with Hogn Kong and South Korea.

Taiwan very poor? No. High birth rates? No. Not very industrialized or technologically advanced? No.

Wikipedia for ‘developing country’:

Taiwan has a very high average income compared to the world average.

That fits Taiwan. The infrastructure is still underdeveloped in a few areas, but in many areas is highly developed and definitely, as a whole, is much closer to the developed end of the spectrum than the undeveloped (in terms of both the physical and insitutional).

[quote]The term “developing country” often refers mainly to countries with low levels of economic development, but this is usually closely associated with social development, in terms of education, healthcare, life expectancy, etc.

The development of a country is measured with statistical indexes such as income per capita (GDP), the rate of illiteracy, and access to water. The UN puts forth a compound indicator using these lists of statistics, to create, a “human development index” which gives a sense of how developed countries are.

Developing countries are in general countries which have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to their populations, and which have a low standard of living. There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth, both within and between countries.[/quote]

Again, Taiwan clearly falls into the category of ‘developed’.


I think the notion of a “second world” country was invented just to give certain Asian countries face. You are either developed or you’re not.

In economic terms, Taiwan is likely a developed nation. In terms of infrastructure, standards and so forth, Taiwan still has a way to go. It’s also a regional thing. Taipei most resembles what we’d expect to see in a developed country. Outside of it, though, a lot of places still resemble a developing country.

This talk about ‘second world’ a bit odd.

Using the term ‘second world’ to mean ‘partly developed’ or something similar is a tad ignorant.

A bunch of the more clued up posters have repeatedly stated that ‘second world’ was coined to describe the commonist bloc. They are totally correct.

So far as I know there were originally 5 terms:
First world = Developed (capitalist economies, market driven etc.)
Second world = communist bloc (planned economies)
Third World = underdeveloped nations with development potential but held back by circumstances (often ex-colonies, considerable potential for development, that is to say plenty of resources, but economies dependent on resource extraction and cash crops, foreign interests often controlling the profitable parts of the economy, need for major changes to achieve development)
Fourth world = nations dependent on a single resource extraction industry (often quite wealthy but with little development outside of a single resource extraction industry - oil states are the classic example)
Fifth world = underdeveloped nations with little or no development potential (poor states with no resources, real basketcases, Naru in the Pacific is an example now the guano resource has been depleted, and I guess there are other examples)

I may have got numbers 4 and 5 in the wrong order. Anyway, that is the scheme traditionally used in development studies. I think that is where the origins of the terms lie.

Using ‘second world’ to mean ‘something in-between first world and third world’ is just ignorant.

The discussion is silly anyway, since Taiwan is clearly a developed country Sure, it is recently developed, and maybe that is why infrastructure and attitudes have some way to go. But it is a hell of a long way from ‘third world’, and I see no signs of it being a communist ‘second world’ country with a planned economy etc.

But those who want to live a ‘third world’ or ‘second world’ fantasy a free to do so I guess.

I believe you are referring to me. I did read your response, and was content to follow the subsequent debate. I was not aware that one is obliged to acknowledge others’ comments on this forum.

On the matter of “proof” (which I see you have placed inside quote marks, politely suggesting perhaps that it is more a detailed argument than an impregnable proof), I am not at all convinced. The reason for this is because the terms today are as much value judgements as they are anything else, and they tell you precious little about the country in question. More curious is why one would use these cumbersome and outdated terms when they imply the presence of serious social and economic problems that do not exist in Taiwan any more than in any “First World” country. This is the perception that is resolutely attached to “Third World” these days, and it does not apply to Taiwan by any stretch of the imagination.

“Attitudes”? This is what I mean about value judgements. Where in any of the definitions that have been presented are nationals required to possess specific attitudes to join the ranks of the “First World”?

One does not need sages from the “international” realm to look at Taiwan and say what Taiwan is and is not and what it has and does not have. Who cares what is “internationally recognized”? Taiwan is a wealthy country that has less than 30 diplomatic allies. Does this lack of recognition make it any less true that it is a wealthy country?

I’m glad you brought up the “Fourth World”. Geographically, about half of Taiwan is populated by indigenous people (or is territory defined as Aboriginal townships) that qualify for this label. How many other countries have this characteristic? Do remember, however, that the inclusion of this category means that the “numbers” are now descriptive and not lying on some ordered scale. In fact, its invention pretty much subverts the original system.

This thread originally belonged to the “Why defend Taiwan” thread, and your insistence on using “First/Third World” terms offers a pretty solid answer to that question.

Actually, many say it is overdeveloped. :laughing:

Canada. And only a Chewycorns would argue it’s anything but a first world country.

In 1999 or 2000, it achieved ‘1st world’ status by the world bank (I think). I remember thinking at that time that Taipei was 1st world, but Fengshan not…anyway, I think the category has to do with stuff like foreign aid, transparency in the banking system, etc. and less to do with how far down your sewers go. For example, in Kaohsiung there were open sewers like the Love River in 1999, but the banking was better than Canada!!!

One thing Taiwan is: Third Wave. It’s definitely third wave (coined by Alvin Toffler).

Bu Lai En,

I guess you didnt read that I AM from the 3rd world.

I asked for proof because everyone is always asking me for proof. I’m tired of being called stupid and crazy and silly by people because I ask questions or believe maps…so I’m done with this thread.

Have fun.

Thanks for the info…I know more than I did when I woke up this morning. :rainbow:

Getting tedious



“Such hijacking of terms also stems from ignorance of what the terms originally meant. So why not think up a new term and use that?”

Hence why I suggested creating a new Lexicon to appease everyone on this thread. Hence why I have also used quotes around ‘2nd world’ in order to imply new definition but with using a generally familiar term, so as to avoid explaining an entirely new word to add to my already prolific writing!

"As for Taiwan being ‘third world’, I think people forget how much of the ‘third world’ exists in their home countries. Significant chunks of New Zealand are surprisingly ‘third world’. Same applies to Taiwan. Of course in your home country you tend to see these ‘chunks of the third world’ as exceptions, whereas in Taiwan it is easy to see them as the norm. "

Sure, but the difference also exists in the social programs those countries have equipeed themselves with to humanely deal with these problems as justly as possible, in comparison. And in order to attain that it requires a shift in education, mentality, attitude, awareness and compasssion.

For example, last year I was driving with one of my best friends from Taiwan (native) and she asked me why it is that I don’t only use my mirror to check before changing lanes (meanwhile her mirror is totally askew and not even positioned right), but why must I also always check over my shoulder? I explained the "blind spot’ reason, and she said they never taught that at driving school. I later asked a business man student of mine, and he confirmed the same. Also, have you checked how many people (especially out of Taipei) drive without helmets and over crowd small vehicles, even with their own damn offspirng?? (and forgive me if I am wrong on this one, but hasn’t Taipei changed the helmet law to helmet wearing as required in Taipei, BEFORE WTO acceptance, but still NOT in all other areas of Taiwan??) Ironically, Taiwan has one of the, if not the, highest vehicle death rates in the world.

Far too many things could easily be fixed with the wealth of this nation.

Another example, I have never seen/met/heard about so many disgruntled people in the work environments I have worked at (locals), and also not worked with but spoke to personally. Unprofessionally, my own managers (from different jobs) were seen crying on my shoulder or in bathrooms at how mistreated and over worked they were. Ironically, Taiwan (last I checked last year) is known to be the second most over worked country next to South Korea. Taiwan also has the highest suicide rate (did you see the local TV news this morning, broadcasting live?). That says something about the welfare of the general/MAJORITY public.

Kiwi, you yourself have said: “Sure, it is recently developed, and maybe that is why infrastructure and attitudes have some way to go.”

“Having said that, sure Taiwan has some similarities to less developed societies. But that is what I would expect of a recently developed society.”

What by your terms is it that classifies it at as 1st world then? Solely economy? I still don’t see how that makes it ‘developed’ when some basic chunks are missing. Wealth doesn’t jusitfy a rich wo(y)/man’s actions. But again, here I suppose it does, with so many people paying off the system in order to get away with debauchery. Example? Couple years ago, there was an earthquake that sent a building tumbling to the ground. Obviously many died. The building walls weren’t entirely filled with concrete all the way through. The builder used empty pain cans. When brought to court, he simply paid off the system and got off scott free. But I suppose that providing you with one example, won’t convince you of its pervasive reality.
shrug We disagree. But that still doesn’t make it ‘fact’.

“Plus alot of foreigners here are determined to live a ‘third world fantasy’. They came here expecting to see the ‘third world’, and by Christ that is what they will see!”

That’s not very optimistic. Can you PROVE that?! LOL I for one thought worse in some areas, and was surprised with the better. At the same time, I came thinking better in other areas, and realized the worse. Either way, I made sure to clear my mind of cold hard expectations. It’s not my style to treat people/things without virgin experience. Life is more interesting when you don’t know what to expect. I would say be sure to count me out of that statistic, but I think you’ll think what you wish regardless.

Your facts seems to be wrong. Could you provide some links or something.

And if you think Taiwan is second/third world, that’s fine by me. I think it’s a stupid system anyway. I think there are plenty of “third world” places around this earth that are much more civilized than the “first world” countries.

I think the terminology is far too general to be of any use.

General yes. I have already explained why I too think those terms are general (in order to adress the prolific biggest problems in our world FIRST before specifying to individual remaining problems). I am tired of reiterating, and too meaningless in this world to battle my way to the think tanks and tell them that I, Ms. Postmodernfunk, demands that they find a new term; therefore the whole world must comply, and hurry up. Either we understand what we are talking about on this forum, or we don’t.

Proof? I am tired of taking my time to appease people who will find any excuse to unjustify that ‘proof’ anyways. Besides, I am sure you could find it just as easily yourself. Don’t be lazy. If you really want to know. Find it yourself, and enlighten me!

PS I believe a journalist friend of mine from a local Taiwan Newspaper, who uses (used?) this forum, could prove to you just HOW recent those suicide statistics were given by giving you the adress to the same link I read in the paper. But I gather she too lost interest in arguing in this forum several months ago.

As for the vehicle accident death rates, I have seen this mentioned many times; one of which I think was mentioned in the Lonely Planet. But I can’t be arsed moving to the other side of the room to my library, for this forum anymore to double check. At least not now when I need to get to a meeting with a student of mine, the same student who also once mentioned about the vehicle accident statistics.