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View North-South Divide

The North-South Divide (or Rich-Poor Divide) is the socio-economic and political division that exists between the wealthy developed countries, known collectively as “the North,” and the poorer developing countries (least developed countries), or “the South.” Although most nations comprising the “North” are in fact located in the Northern Hemisphere, the divide is not primarily defined by geography. The North is home to four out of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and all members of the G8. “The North” mostly covers the West and the First World, with much of the Second World. The expression “North-South divide” is still in common use, but the terms “North” and “South” are already somewhat outdated. As nations become economically developed, they may become part of the “North,” regardless of geographical location, while any other nations which do not qualify for “developed” status are in effect deemed to be part of the “South.”

Problems with defining the divide
Following the fall of the Soviet Bloc, which was commonly referred to as the Second World, many of its constituent countries were reclassified as developing, despite being geographically northern. At the same time, geographically southern nations previously considered “developing,” such as the East Asian Tigers or Turkey, have joined the modern First World, but are classified inconsistently in maps showing the North-South divide. Similarly, dependencies of developed nations are also classified as Southern, although they are part of the developed world.

On an ideological level, some development geographers have argued that current concentration on the North-South divide as the main organizing principle for understanding the world economy has overlooked the role of inter-imperial conflicts between the United States, Japan, and Europe.

Digital divide
The global Digital Divide is often characterized as corresponding to the North-South divide, however it is interesting to note that Internet use, and especially broadband access, is now soaring in Asia compared with other continents. This phenomenon is partially explained by the ability of many countries in Asia to bypass older Internet technology and infrastructure, coupled with booming economies which allow vastly more people to get online.

Development gap
The North-South divide has more recently been named the development gap. This places greater emphasis on closing the evident gap between rich (more economically developed) countries and poor (less economically developed countries) countries. A good measure of on which side of the gap a country is located is the Human Development Index. The nearer this is to 1.0, the greater is the country’s level of development and the further the country is on its development pathway (closer towards being well developed)l.

IEET Links:
Nanotechnology and the South-South Divide

Sources:
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