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Reviewed by Jul 26, 2021| Updated on
The Fourth World is a word for identifying the world's most underdeveloped, poverty-stricken, and oppressed areas. Many of these nations' inhabitants have no political connections, who are often hunter-gatherers living in nomadic societies or are part of tribes. They may be completely functional and self-sustaining, but Fourth World status is granted based on their economic growth.
At the time of the Cold War, every nation was marked as belonging to a certain type of world. The First World identified countries whose values were associated with NATO and capitalism, the Second World referred to countries that embraced communism and the Soviet Union.
Third World represented those nations that were not strongly allied with either side. These countries included the impoverished former colonies of Europe and all African, Middle East, Latin America, and Asian nations.
Fourth World Nations can be removed from mainstream society. The Indigenous tribes in South America or Australia, for example, are largely self-sufficient but do not take part in the global economy. These tribes may work independently of any help from others but are considered Fourth World Nations from a global perspective. Fourth World Nations contribute or consume nothing on a global scale, and are not influenced by any global events.
Political boundaries don't describe regions of the Fourth World. In several cases, they are described as nations without a sovereign status, highlighting instead the apparent non-recognition and exclusion from the politico-economic world system of ethnically and religiously defined people, such as First Nation groups across North, Central, and South America.