The term Third World originally signified those states that were neither part of the Soviet led socialist bloc or the US led alliance of NATO and Japan. It was meant to categorize the political position of states such as Ghana, India, Indonesia, Egypt, and Yugoslavia that led the Nonaligned Movement. Later on this became quite fuzzy as Soviet allies such as Cuba and Vietnam joined the Nonaligned Movement. The term Third World itself came to mean any country with a lower level of economic development than the US or USSR regardless of its political orientation in the Cold War. Thus countries as radically different as Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Angola, Pakistan, and Indonesia all became classified as Third World.
From 1989 through 1991 the Second World collapsed and ceased to exist. Making the term Third World even more of an anachronism. Presumably the richer European states of the former Second World like the Czech Republic and Hungary became First World and the poorer Asian ones such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan became Third World. Although this reclassification hardly seems satisfactory. Is Russia really a First World country at the same level of development as Belgium? The tripartite division which was really only useful for a brief time as a political not an economic classification during the 1950s and 1960s appears to have outlived all of its usefulness. Yet, Third World still remains the favorite term by US commentators to describe the entire planet outside of Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.