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The Western world, or simply the West (from Proto-Germanic
Proto-Germanic
root wes-; Ancient Greek: Ἓσπερος /ˈhɛspərʊs/, Hesperos,[1] "towards evening") refers to various nations depending on the context, most often including at least part of Europe. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated.[2] The Western world
Western world
is also known as the Occident (from Latin
Latin
word occidens, "sunset, West"). The East and the Orient
Orient
are terms used as contraries. Ancient Greece[a][b] and ancient Rome[c] are generally considered to be the birthplaces of Western civilization, the former due to its impact on Western philosophy, democracy, science, art, and the ancient Roman culture, the latter due to its influence in governance, republicanism, law, architecture and warfare. The West is also founded upon Christianity
Christianity
(particularly Roman Catholicism
Catholicism
and various Protestant churches), which is in turn shaped on Hellenistic philosophy, Judaism
Judaism
and Roman culture;[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][excessive citations] the polytheist ancient Greece
Greece
in turn, had been influenced by forms of ancient Near East civilizations.[32] The historical concept of the Western part of the earth has its roots in the theological, methodological, emphatical division between the Western Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.[33] In the modern era, Western culture has been heavily influenced by the traditions of the Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, Age of Enlightenment—and shaped by the expansive imperialism and colonialism of the 15th to 20th centuries which led to modern banking concepts, and to the Industrialisation began in mid-1700s then turned into Informatization in the 1900s. West was originally literal, opposing Catholic Europe
Europe
with the cultures and civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the remote Far East which early-modern Europeans saw as the East. Western world sometimes[34] refers to Europe
Europe
and to areas whose populations largely consist of ethnic Europeans spread through the Age of Discovery's Christian
Christian
imperialism.[35]

Contents

1 Introduction 2 Western/European culture 3 Historical divisions

3.1 Greek and Hellenistic 3.2 Roman Empire 3.3 Christian
Christian
schism 3.4 Colonial "West" 3.5 Cold War
Cold War
context 3.6 Cold War
Cold War
II context

4 Modern definitions

4.1 Cultural definition 4.2 Modern political definition 4.3 Economic definition

5 Other views

5.1 Views on Latin
Latin
America 5.2 Definition of the West by Norway 5.3 Views on Turkey

6 See also 7 Maps 8 References 9 Further reading

Introduction[edit]

History of Western philosophy

Western philosophy

By era

Pre-Socratic Ancient Medieval Renaissance Modern Contemporary

By century

16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st

See also

Religious philosophy

Buddhist Christian Hindu Islamic Jewish Sikh

Eastern philosophy

Chinese Indian Iranian Japanese Korean

Western culture Western world

v t e

Ancient Greek mythological Priestess of Delphi (1891)

Western culture
Western culture
was influenced by many older great civilizations of the ancient Near East,[32] such as Phoenicia, Ancient Israel,[36][28][37] Minoan Crete, Sumer, Babylonia, and also Ancient Egypt. It originated in the Mediterranean basin and its vicinity; Greece
Greece
and Rome
Rome
are often cited as its originators. Over time, their associated empires grew first to the east and west to include the rest of Mediterranean and Black Sea
Black Sea
coastal areas, conquering and absorbing. Later, they expanded to the north of the Mediterranean Sea to include Western, Central, and Southeastern Europe. Christianization of Ireland (5th century), Christianization of Bulgaria
Christianization of Bulgaria
(9th century), Christianization of Kievan Rus'
Christianization of Kievan Rus'
(Russia, Ukraine, Belarus; 10th century), Christianisation of Scandinavia
Christianisation of Scandinavia
(Denmark, Norway, Sweden; 12th century) and Christianization of Lithuania
Christianization of Lithuania
(14th century) brought the rest of present-day European territory into Western civilisation. Historians, such as Carroll Quigley in The Evolution of Civilizations,[38] contend that Western civilization was born around 500 AD, after the total collapse of the Western Roman Empire, leaving a vacuum for new ideas to flourish that were impossible in Classical societies. In either view, between the fall of the Western Roman Empire
Empire
and the Renaissance, the West (or those regions that would later become the heartland of the culturally "western sphere") experienced a period of first, considerable decline,[39] and then readaptation, reorientation and considerable renewed material, technological and political development. This whole period of roughly a millennium is known as the Middle Ages, its early part forming the "Dark Ages", designations that were created during the Renaissance
Renaissance
and reflect the perspective on history, and the self-image, of the latter period.[citation needed] The knowledge of the ancient Western world
Western world
was partly preserved during this period due to the survival of the Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
and the institutions of the Catholic Church; it was also greatly expanded by the Arab importation[40][41] of both the Ancient Greco-Roman and new technology through the Arabs from India and China to Europe.[42][43] Since the Renaissance, the West evolved beyond the influence of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the Islamic world due to the Commercial,[44] Scientific,[45] and Industrial Revolutions,[46] and the expansion of the peoples of Western and Central European empires, and particularly the globe-spanning empires of the 18th and 19th centuries.[47] Numerous times, this expansion was accompanied by Christian
Christian
missionaries, who attempted to proselytize Christianity. Generally speaking, the current consensus would locate the West, at the very least, in the cultures and peoples of Europe
Europe
(at least the European Union
European Union
member states, EFTA countries, European microstates),[48][49] the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Latin
Latin
America. There is debate among some as to whether Latin
Latin
America is in a category of its own.[50] Whether Russia should be categorized as "East" or "West" has been "an ongoing discussion" for centuries.[51] Western/European culture[edit] Main articles: Western culture, Western literature, Western art history, and Classical music Further information: History of Western civilization

The School of Athens
Athens
depicts a fictional gathering of the most prominent thinkers of classical antiquity. Fresco by Raphael, 1510–1511

The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies. Specifically, Western culture
Western culture
may imply:

a Biblical Christian
Christian
cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions, around the Post-Classical Era and after. European cultural influences concerning artistic, musical, folkloric, ethic and oral traditions, whose themes have been further developed by Romanticism. a Graeco-Roman
Graeco-Roman
Classical and Renaissance
Renaissance
cultural influence, concerning artistic, philosophic, literary, and legal themes and traditions, the cultural social effects of migration period and the heritages of Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and other ethnic groups, as well as a tradition of rationalism in various spheres of life, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, Scholasticism, Humanisms, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment.

The concept of Western culture
Western culture
is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic and philosophical principles that set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon.[52] The term has come to apply to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration or settlement, such as the Americas, and Oceania, and is not restricted to Europe. Some tendencies that define modern Western societies are the existence of political pluralism, laicism, generalization of middle class, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age
New Age
movements), increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration. The modern shape of these societies is strongly based upon the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
and the societies' associated social and environmental problems, such as class and pollution, as well as reactions to them, such as syndicalism and environmentalism. Historical divisions[edit] The geopolitical divisions in Europe
Europe
that created a concept of East and West originated in the Roman Empire.[33] The Eastern Mediterranean was home to the highly urbanized cultures that had Greek as their common language (owing to the older empire of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
and of the Hellenistic successors.), whereas the West was much more rural in its character and more readily adopted Latin
Latin
as its common language. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Western and Central Europe
Europe
were substantially cut off from the East where Byzantine Greek culture and Eastern Christianity
Christianity
became founding influences in the Arab/Muslim world and among the Eastern and Southern Slavic peoples. Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
Western and Central Europe, as such, maintained a distinct identity particularly as it began to redevelop during the Renaissance. Even following the Protestant Reformation, Protestant Europe
Europe
continued to see itself as more tied to Roman Catholic Europe
Europe
than other parts of the perceived civilized world. Use of the term West as a specific cultural and geopolitical term developed over the course of the Age of Exploration
Age of Exploration
as Europe
Europe
spread its culture to other parts of the world. In the past two centuries the term Western world
Western world
has sometimes been used synonymously with Christian world because of the numerical dominance of Roman Catholicism
Catholicism
and Protestantism
Protestantism
compared to other Christian
Christian
traditions, ancient Roman ideas, and heresies. As secularism rose in Europe
Europe
and elsewhere during the 19th and 20th centuries, the term West came to take on less religious connotations and more political connotations, especially during the Cold War. Additionally, closer contacts between the West and Asia and other parts of the world in recent times have continued to cloud the use and meaning of the term. Greek and Hellenistic[edit] Main articles: Ancient Greece
Greece
and Hellenistic civilization

The Ancient Greek world, c. 550 BC

Hellenistic world 281 BCE

The Hellenic division between the barbarians and the Greeks contrasted in many societies the Greek-speaking culture of the Greek settlements around the Mediterranean to the surrounding non-Greek cultures. Herodotus
Herodotus
considered the Persian Wars
Persian Wars
of the early 5th century BC a conflict of Europa versus Asia (which he considered all land north and east of the Sea of Marmara, respectively). The terms "West" and "East" were not used by any Greek author to describe that conflict. The anachronistic application of those terms to that division entails a stark logical contradiction, given that, when the term "West" appeared, it was used by Hellenistic Roman Catholics of Greek heritage but also of Latin-speaking culture, in opposition to the Greek Orthodox and their Greek-speaking culture. According to a few writers, the conquest of parts of the Roman Empire by Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
and the subsequent dominance by the Western Christian
Christian
Papacy
Papacy
(which held combined political and spiritual authority, a state of affairs absent from Greek civilization in all its stages), resulted in a rupture of the previously existing ties between the Latin
Latin
West and Greek thought,[53] including Christian Greek thought. Roman Empire[edit] Main article: Roman Empire

The Roman Empire
Empire
under Trajan
Trajan
in 117 AD

Ancient Rome
Rome
(510 BC–AD 476) was a civilization that grew from a city-state founded on the Italian Peninsula
Italian Peninsula
about the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. In its 12-century existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy, to a republic, to an autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western, Central and Southeastern Europe
Europe
and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
through conquest using the Roman legions
Roman legions
and then through cultural assimilation by giving Roman privileges and eventually citizenship to the whole empire. Nonetheless, despite its great legacy, a number of factors led to the eventual decline of the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire
Empire
provinces eventually were replaced by Germanic ruled kingdoms in the 5th century AD due to civil wars, corruption, and devastating Germanic invasions from such tribes as the Goths, the Franks
Franks
and the Vandals.

Graphical map of post-395 Roman Empire, highlighting differences between western Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
and eastern Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox
parts. The concept of "East-West" originated in the cultural division between Christian
Christian
Churches.[33]

The Eastern Roman Empire, governed from Constantinople, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire
Empire
after 476, the traditional date for the "fall of the Western Roman Empire" and for the beginning of the Early Middle Ages. The Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
survived the fall of the West, and protected Roman legal and cultural traditions, combining them with Greek and Christian
Christian
elements, for another thousand years. The name Byzantine Empire
Empire
was used after the Byzantine Empire
Empire
ended, the inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire
Empire
continued to call themselves Romans. The Roman Empire
Empire
succeeded the approximately 500-year-old Roman Republic (510 BC – 1st century BC), which had been weakened by the conflict between Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
and Sulla
Sulla
and the civil war of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
against Pompey
Pompey
and Marcus Brutus. During these struggles hundreds of senators were killed, and the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
had been refilled with loyalists of the First Triumvirate
First Triumvirate
and later those of the Second Triumvirate. Several dates are commonly proposed to mark the transition from Republic to Empire, including the date of Julius Caesar's appointment as perpetual Roman dictator
Roman dictator
(44 BC), the victory of Caesar's heir Octavian at the Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
( 2, 31 September BC), and the Roman Senate's granting to Octavian the honorific Augustus. (16, 27 January BC). Octavian/ Augustus
Augustus
officially proclaimed that he had saved the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
and carefully disguised his power under republican forms: Consuls continued to be elected, tribunes of the plebeians continued to offer legislation, and senators still debated in the Roman Curia. However, it was Octavian who influenced everything and controlled the final decisions, and in final analysis, had the legions to back him up, if it became necessary. Roman expansion began long before the empire and reached its zenith under emperor Trajan
Trajan
with the conquest of Dacia
Dacia
in AD 106. During this territorial peak, the Roman Empire
Empire
controlled about 5 900 000 km² (2,300,000 sq.mi.) of land surface and had a population of 100 million. From the time of Caesar to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rome
Rome
dominated Western Eurasia (as well as the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa) comprising the majority of its population, and trading with population living outside it through trade routes. Ancient Rome
Rome
has contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today. Latin
Latin
language has been the base from which Roman languages evolved and it has been the official language of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
and all Catholic religious ceremonies all over Europe
Europe
until 1967, as well as an or the official language of countries such as Poland
Poland
(9th–18th centuries).[54] The Roman Empire
Empire
is where the idea of the "West" began to emerge. Due to Rome's central location at the heart of the Empire, "West" and "East" were terms used to denote provinces West and east of the capital itself. Therefore, Iberia ( Portugal
Portugal
and Spain), Gaul
Gaul
(France), Mediterranean coast of North Africa
North Africa
(Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) and Britannia
Britannia
were all part of the "West", while Greece, Cyprus, Anatolia, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Libya were part of the "East". Italy
Italy
itself was considered central, until the reforms of Diocletian, with the idea of formally dividing the Empire into true two halves: Eastern and Western. In 395, the Roman Empire
Empire
formally split into a Western Roman Empire and an Eastern one, each with their own emperors, capitals, and governments, although ostensibly they still belonged to one formal Empire. The dissolution of the Western half (nominally in 476, but in truth a long process that ended by 500) left only the Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
alive. For centuries, the East continued to call themselves Eastern Romans, while the West began to think in terms of Latins (those living in the old Western Empire) and Greeks (those inside the Roman remnant to the east). Christian
Christian
schism[edit] Main article: East–West Schism

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Plato, Seneca and Aristotle
Aristotle
in a medieval manuscript illustration

In the early 4th century, the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
Constantine the Great established the city of Constantinople
Constantinople
as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
included lands east of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
and bordering on the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of the Black Sea. This division into Eastern and Western Roman Empires was reflected in the administration of the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
and Eastern Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox
churches, with Rome
Rome
and Constantinople
Constantinople
debating over whether either city was the capital of Western religion.

The religious distribution after the Great Christian
Christian
Schism in 1054[55]

As the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (firstly Catholic, then Protestant as well) churches spread their influence, the line between Eastern and Western Christianity
Christianity
was moving. Its movement was affected by the influence of the Byzantine empire and the fluctuating power and influence of the Catholic church in Rome. Beginning in the Middle Ages religious cultural hegemony slowly waned in Europe
Europe
generally. This process may have prompted the geographic line of religious division to approximately follow a line of cultural divide. The influential American conservative political scientist, adviser and academic Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington
argued that this cultural division still existed during the Cold War
Cold War
as the approximate Western boundary of those countries that were allied with the Soviet Union. Others have fiercely criticized these views arguing they confuse the Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
with Russia, especially considering the fact that the country that had the most historical roots in Byzantium, Greece, expelled communists and was allied with the West during the Cold War. Still, Russia
Russia
accepted Eastern Christianity
Christianity
from the Byzantine Empire
Empire
(by the Patriarch of Constantinople: Photios I) linking Russia
Russia
very close to the Eastern Roman Empire
Empire
world. Later on, in 16th century Russia created its own religious centre in Moscow. Religion
Religion
survived in Russia
Russia
beside severe persecution carrying values alternative to the communist ideology. Under Charlemagne, the Franks
Franks
established an empire that was recognized as the Holy Roman Empire
Empire
by the Pope
Pope
in Rome, offending the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
in Constantinople. The crowning of the Emperor by the Pope
Pope
led to the assumption that the highest power was the papal hierarchy, establishing, until the Protestant Reformation, the civilization of West Christendom. The Latin
Latin
Rite Catholic Church
Catholic Church
of western and central Europe
Europe
headed by the Pope
Pope
split with the eastern, Greek-speaking Patriarchates during the Great Schism. Meanwhile, the extent of each expanded, as British Isles, Germanic peoples, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, Scandinavia, Baltic peoples and the other non- Christian
Christian
lands of the northwest were converted by the Western Church, while Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Georgia were converted by the Eastern Church. In this context, the Protestant reformation may be viewed as a schism within the Catholic Church. Martin Luther, in the wake of precursors, broke with the pope and with the emperor, backed by many of the German princes in an attempt to reform corruption within the church. These changes were adopted by the Scandinavian kings. Later, the commoner Jean Cauvin (John Calvin) assumed the religio-political leadership in Geneva, a former ecclesiastical city whose prior ruler had been the bishop. The English King later improvised on the Lutheran model, but subsequently many Calvinist doctrines were adopted by popular dissenters, leading to the English Civil War. Both royalists and dissenters colonized North America, eventually resulting in an independent United States
United States
of America. Colonial "West"[edit] The Reformation, and consequent dissolution of West Christendom
Christendom
as even a theoretical unitary political body, resulted in the Thirty Years War. The war ended in the Peace of Westphalia, which enshrined the concept of the nation-state and the principle of absolute national sovereignty in international law.

The global distribution of Christians: Countries colored a darker shade have a higher proportion of Christians[56]

The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain
Great Britain
in the mid 18th to early 19th century, forever modified the economy worldwide.

These concepts of a world of nation-states, coupled with the ideologies of the Enlightenment, the coming of modernity, the Scientific Revolution,[57] and the Industrial Revolution,[58] produced powerful political and economic institutions that have come to influence (or been imposed upon) most nations of the world today. Historians agree that the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
was one of the most important events in history.[59] This process of influence (and imposition) began with the voyages of discovery, colonization, conquest, and exploitation of Portugal
Portugal
and Spain it continued with the rise of the Dutch East India Company, and the creation and expansion of the British and French colonial empires. Due to the reach of these empires, Western institutions expanded throughout the world. Even after demands for self-determination from subject peoples within Western empires were met with decolonization, these institutions persisted. One specific example was the requirement that post-colonial societies were made to form nation-states (in the Western tradition), which often created arbitrary boundaries and borders that did not necessarily represent a whole nation, people, or culture, and are often the cause of international conflicts and friction even to this day. Though the overt colonial era has passed, Western nations, as comparatively rich, well-armed, and culturally powerful states, still wield a large degree of influence throughout the world. Although not part of Western colonization process proper, Western culture entered Japan primarily in the so-called Meiji period (1868–1912), though earlier contact with the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the Dutch were also present in the recognition of European nations as strategically important to the Japanese. The traditional Japanese society was virtually overturned into an industrial and militarist power like Western countries such as the United Kingdom, the French Third Republic, and the German Empire. Cold War
Cold War
context[edit] During the Cold War, a new definition emerged. Earth was divided into three "worlds". The First World, analogous in this context to what was called the West, was composed of NATO members
NATO members
and other countries aligned with the United States. The Second World was the Eastern bloc in the Soviet sphere of influence, including the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(15 republics including presently independent Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
countries like Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, East Germany (now united with Germany), Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
(now split into the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
and Slovakia). The Third World
Third World
consisted of countries, many of which were unaligned with either, and important members included India, Yugoslavia, Finland (Finlandization) and Switzerland (Swiss Neutrality); some include the People's Republic of China, though this is disputed, since the People's Republic of China, as communist, had friendly relations — at certain times — with the Soviet bloc, and had a significant degree of importance in global geopolitics. Some Third World
Third World
countries aligned themselves with either the US-led West or the Soviet-led Eastern bloc.

Western colonial empires in 1945

European trade blocs as of the late 1980s. EEC member states are marked in blue, EFTA – green, and Comecon – red.

East and West in 1980, as defined by the Cold War. The Cold War
Cold War
had divided Europe
Europe
politically into East and West, with the Iron Curtain splitting Central Europe.

A number of countries did not fit comfortably into this neat definition of partition, including Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Ireland, which chose to be neutral. Finland
Finland
was under the Soviet Union's military sphere of influence (see FCMA treaty) but remained neutral and was not communist, nor was it a member of the Warsaw Pact or Comecon
Comecon
but a member of the EFTA since 1986, and was west of the Iron Curtain. In 1955, when Austria again became a fully independent republic, it did so under the condition that it remain neutral, but as a country to the west of the Iron Curtain, it was in the United States' sphere of influence. Spain did not join the NATO
NATO
until 1982, towards the end of the Cold War
Cold War
and after the death of the authoritarian Franco. Cold War
Cold War
II context[edit] Main article: Cold War
Cold War
II

Several countries (green), many of which are NATO members
NATO members
and/or EU members, introduced sanctions on Russia
Russia
(blue) following the 2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine
Ukraine
and 2015 Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

During the Cold War
Cold War
II, a new definition emerged. More specifically, Cold War
Cold War
II,[60] also known as the Second Cold War, New Cold War,[61] Cold War
Cold War
Redux,[62] Cold War
Cold War
2.0,[63] and Colder War,[64] refers to the tensions, hostilities, and political rivalry that intensified dramatically in 2014 between the Russian Federation
Russian Federation
on the one hand, and the United States, European Union, NATO
NATO
and some other countries on the other hand.[65][66] Tensions escalated in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea, military intervention in Ukraine, and the 2015 Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[67][68][69] By August 2014, both sides had implemented economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions upon each other: virtually all Western countries, led by the US and EU, imposed restrictive measures on Russia; the latter reciprocally introduced retaliatory measures.[70][71] Modern definitions[edit]

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The exact scope of the Western world
Western world
is somewhat subjective in nature, depending on whether cultural, economic, spiritual or political criteria are employed. Many anthropologists, sociologists and historians oppose "the West and the Rest" in a categorical manner.[72] The same has been done by Malthusian demographers with a sharp distinction between European and non-European family systems. Among anthropologists, this includes Durkheim, Dumont and Lévi-Strauss.[72] As the term "Western world" does not have a strict international definition, governments do not use the term in legislation of international treaties and instead rely on other definitions. Cultural definition[edit] Further information: Western culture
Western culture
and Culture of Europe From a cultural and sociological approach the Western world
Western world
is defined as including all cultures that are directly derived from and influenced by European cultures, i.e. Europe
Europe
(at least the European Union member states, EFTA countries, European microstates);[48][49] in the Americas
Americas
(e.g. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, United States
United States
of America, Uruguay, Venezuela), and in Oceania
Oceania
( Australia
Australia
and New Zealand). Together these countries constitute Western society.[35][73][74] In the 20th century, Christianity
Christianity
declined in influence in many Western countries, mostly in the European Union
European Union
where some member states have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years,[75] and also elsewhere. Secularism
Secularism
(separating religion from politics and science) increased. However, while church attendance is in decline, in some western countries (i.e. Italy, Poland
Poland
and Portugal) more than half the people state that religion is important,[76] and most Westerners nominally identify themselves as Christians (e.g. 59% in the United Kingdom) and attend church on major occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. In the Americas, Christianity continues to play an important societal role, though in areas such as Canada, low level of religiosity is common as a result of experiencing processes of secularization similar to European ones. The official religions of the United Kingdom and some Nordic countries are forms of Christianity, even though the majority of European countries have no official religion. Despite this, Christianity, in its different forms, remains the largest faith in most Western countries.[77] Christianity
Christianity
remains the dominant religion in the Western world, where 70% are Christians.[78] A 2011 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
survey found that 76.2% of Europeans, 73.3% in Oceania, and about 86.0% in the Americas (90% in Latin
Latin
America and 77.4% in North America) described themselves as Christians.[78][79][80][81] Modern political definition[edit] Countries of the Western world
Western world
are generally considered to share certain fundamental political ideologies, including those of liberal democracy, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality (although there are notable exceptions, especially in foreign policy). All of these are prerequisites, for example, for a state to become a full member of the European Union
European Union
and therefore from modern political point of view all European Union
European Union
member states from the Western, Central and Southeastern Europe
Europe
are considered part of the Western world. Economic definition[edit]

New York City
New York City
has been a dominant global financial center since World War II

Though the Cold War
Cold War
has ended, and some members of the former Eastern Bloc make a general movement towards liberal democracy and other beliefs held in common by traditionally Western states, most of the former Soviet republics (except Baltic states) are not considered Western because of the small presence of social and political reform, as well as the significant cultural, economic and political differences to what is known today as described by the term "The West": United States
United States
of America and Canada, European Union
European Union
and European Free Trade Association
European Free Trade Association
member states, Israel, Australia
Australia
and New Zealand. The term "Western world" is sometimes interchangeably used with the term First World
First World
or developed countries, stressing the difference between First World
First World
and the Third World
Third World
or developing countries. This usage occurs despite the fact that many countries that may be culturally "Western" are developing countries - in fact, a significant percentage of the Americas
Americas
are developing countries. It is also used despite many developed countries or regions not being Western (e.g., Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Qatar, Israel), and therefore left out when "Western world" is used to denote developed countries.

Countries by Income Group

The existence of "The North" implies the existence of "The South", and the socio-economic divide between North and South. The term "the North" has in some contexts replaced earlier usage of the term "the West", particularly in the critical sense, as a more robust demarcation than the terms "West" and "East". The North provides some absolute geographical indicators for the location of wealthy countries, most of which are physically situated in the Northern Hemisphere, although, as most countries are located in the northern hemisphere in general, some have considered this distinction equally unhelpful. The 35 high-income countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which include: Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland,[82] South Korea, Switzerland, the United States
United States
and the countries of the EU (except for: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta
Malta
and Romania), are generally included in what used to be called developed world, although the OECD includes countries, namely, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, Slovakia, Slovenia
Slovenia
and Turkey, that are not yet fully industrial countries, but newly industrialised countries. Although Andorra, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Macau, Malta, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, Taiwan and Vatican City, are not members of the OECD, they might also be regarded as developed countries, because of their high living standards, high per capita incomes, and their social, economic and political structure are quite similar to those of the high income OECD countries. Other views[edit]

Huntington's map of major civilizations.[83] What constitutes Western civilization in post- Cold War
Cold War
world is coloured dark blue. He also dwells that Latin
Latin
America (shown in purple) is either a part of the West or a separate civilization akin to the West. Turkey, Russia, Philippines, and Mexico[84] are considered "torn countries" that are either already part of the West or in the process of joining the West.

A series of scholars of civilization, including Arnold J. Toynbee, Alfred Kroeber
Alfred Kroeber
and Carroll Quigley have identified and analyzed "Western civilization" as one of the civilizations that have historically existed and still exist today. Toynbee entered into quite an expansive mode, including as candidates those countries or cultures who became so heavily influenced by the West as to adopt these borrowings into their very self-identity; carried to its limit, this would in practice include almost everyone within the West, in one way or another. In particular, Toynbee refers to the intelligentsia formed among the educated elite of countries impacted by the European expansion of centuries past. While often pointedly nationalist, these cultural and political leaders interacted within the West to such an extent as to change both themselves and the West.[50] The theologian and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
conceived of the West as the set of civilizations descended from the Nile Valley Civilization
Civilization
of Egypt.[85] Palestinian-American literary critic Edward Said
Edward Said
uses the term occident in his discussion of orientalism. According to his binary, the West, or Occident, created a romanticized vision of the East, or Orient
Orient
to justify colonial and imperialist intentions. This Occident- Orient
Orient
binary focuses on the Western vision of the East instead of any truths about the East. His theories are rooted in Hegel's Master-slave dialectic: The Occident would not exist without the Orient
Orient
and vice versa. Further, Western writers created this irrational, feminine, weak "Other" to contrast with the rational, masculine, strong West because of a need to create a difference between the two that would justify imperialist ambitions, according to the Said-influenced Indian-American theorist Homi K. Bhabha. The term the "West" may also be used pejoratively by certain tendencies and especially critical of the influence of the traditional West, due to the history of most of the members of the traditional West being previously involved, at one time or another, in outright imperialism and colonialism. Some of these critics also claim that the traditional West has continued to engage in what might be viewed as modern implementations of imperialism and colonialism, such as neoliberalism and globalization. (It should be noted that many Westerners who subscribe to a positive view of the traditional West are also very critical of neoliberalism and globalization, for their allegedly negative effects on both the developed and developing world.) Allegedly, definitions of the term "Western world" that some may consider "ethnocentric" others consider "constructed" around one or another Western culture. The British writer Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
wrote about this contrast: East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, expressing his belief that somebody from the West "can never understand the Asian cultures" as the latter "differ too much" from the Western cultures. Some may view this alleged incompatibility as a precursor to Huntington's "clash of civilizations" theory. From a very different perspective, it has also been argued that the idea of the West is, in part, a non-Western invention, deployed in the non-West to shape and define non-Western pathways through or against modernity.[86] Views on Latin
Latin
America[edit] Influential American conservative political scientist, adviser and academic Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington
classified Latin
Latin
America separately from the Western world.[87] Definition of the West by Norway[edit] The official statistics bureau of Norway, Statistics Norway, has used a definition of the "West" as "EU28/EEA, United States, Canada, Australia
Australia
and New Zealand", and a definition of the "Rest of the World" as "Asia, Africa, Latin
Latin
America, Oceania
Oceania
excluding Australia and New Zealand, and Europe
Europe
outside EU/EEA", for the purpose of immigration statistics.[48][49] Views on Turkey[edit] According to Samuel P. Huntington, Turkey, whose political leadership has systematically tried to Westernize the predominantly Muslim country with only 3% of its territory within Europe
Europe
since the 1920s, is his chief example of a "torn country" that is attempting to join Western civilization.[88][89] The country's elite started the Westernization
Westernization
efforts, beginning with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who took power as the first president of the modern Turkish nation-state in 1923, imposed western institutions and dress, removed the Arabic alphabet and embraced the Latin
Latin
alphabet, joined NATO, and are seeking to join the European Union
European Union
since the 1960s with very slow progress.[90] See also[edit]

Americanization Anglicisation Anglophone Atlanticism Christendom Eastern world East-West dichotomy Europeanisation Far West Francophonie Golden billion Hispanophone Mid-Atlantic English Orient Western esotericism Western philosophy Westernization Western culture

Organisations

European Union European Economic Area Group of Eight
Group of Eight
(G8)

Representation in the UN

Eastern European Group Western European and Others Group

Maps[edit] The following maps are illustrations of the West according to different but closely interrelated definitions.

Division of the Roman Empire
Empire
after 395 into western and eastern part. The geopolitical divisions in Europe
Europe
that created a concept of East and West originated in the Roman Empire.

Latin
Latin
alphabet world distribution. The dark green areas show the countries where this alphabet is the sole main script. The light green places show the countries where the alphabet co-exists with other scripts.

Countries with 50% or more Christians are colored purple while countries with 10% to 50% Christians are colored pink

Map showing relative degree of religiosity by country. Based on a 2006–2008 worldwide survey by Gallup.

Human language families.

Western Palaearctic, a part of the Palaearctic ecozone, one of the eight ecozones dividing the Earth's surface.

Geopolitical Occident of Europe.

Indo-European languages.

European Union
European Union
(in blue) and European Free Trade Association
European Free Trade Association
(in green).

World map by quartiles of Human Development Index in 2014.

Legal systems of the world.

Secular states in blue.

References[edit]

^ ἑσπέριος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project ^ Western Civilization, Our Tradition; James Kurth; accessed 30 August 2011 ^ Ricardo Duchesne (7 February 2011). The Uniqueness of Western Civilization. BRILL. p. 297. ISBN 90-04-19248-4. The list of books which have celebrated Greece
Greece
as the “cradle” of the West is endless; two more examples are Charles Freeman's The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World (1999) and Bruce Thornton's Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization (2000)  ^ Chiara Bottici; Benoît Challand (11 January 2013). The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-136-95119-0. The reason why even such a sophisticated historian as Pagden can do it is that the idea that Greece
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is the cradle of civilisation is so much rooted in western minds and school curicula as to be taken for granted.  ^ William J. Broad (2007). The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-14-303859-7. In 1979, a friend of de Boer's invited him to join a team of scientists that was going to Greece
Greece
to assess the suitability of the ... But the idea of learning more about Greece — the cradle of Western civilization, a fresh example of tectonic forces at ...  ^ Maura Ellyn; Maura McGinnis (2004). Greece: A Primary Source Cultural Guide. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8239-3999-2.  ^ John E. Findling; Kimberly D. Pelle (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-313-32278-5.  ^ Wayne C. Thompson; Mark H. Mullin. Western Europe, 1983. Stryker-Post Publications. p. 337. for ancient Greece
Greece
was the cradle of Western culture
Western culture
...  ^ Frederick Copleston (1 June 2003). History of Philosophy Volume 1: Greece
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and Rome. A&C Black. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8264-6895-6. PART I PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY CHAPTER II THE CRADLE OF WESTERN THOUGHT:  ^ Mario Iozzo (2001). Art and History of Greece: And Mount Athos. Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 7. ISBN 978-88-8029-435-1. The capital of Greece, one of the world's most glorious cities and the cradle of Western culture,  ^ Marxiano Melotti (25 May 2011). The Plastic Venuses: Archaeological Tourism in Post-Modern Society. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-4438-3028-7. In short, Greece, despite having been the cradle of Western culture, was then an “other” space separate from the West.  ^ Library Journal. 97. Bowker. April 1972. p. 1588. Ancient Greece: Cradle of Western Culture (Series), disc. 6 strips with 3 discs, range: 44–60 fr., 17–18 min  ^ Stanley Mayer Burstein (2002). Current Issues and the Study of Ancient History. Regina Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-930053-10-6. and making Egypt
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play the same role in African education and culture that Athens
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Greece
do in Western culture.  ^ Murray Milner, Jr. (8 January 2015). Elites: A General Model. John Wiley & Sons. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7456-8950-0. Greece
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Special
Case of Greece The ancient Greece
Greece
was a cradle of the Western culture,  ^ Kim Covert (1 July 2011). Ancient Greece: Birthplace of Democracy. Capstone. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4296-6831-6. Ancient Greece
Greece
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Judaism
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Judaism
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Judaism
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Civilization
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Christianity
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Europe
and of America— have been shaped chiefly by Judaeo–Graeco–Christianity, Catholic and Protestant. ^ Horst Hutter, University of New York, Shaping the Future: Nietzsche's New Regime of the Soul And Its Ascetic Practices (2004), p.111:three mighty founders of Western culture, namely Socrates, Jesus, and Plato. ^ Fred Reinhard Dallmayr, Dialogue Among Civilizations: Some Exemplary Voices (2004), p.22: Western civilization is also sometimes described as "Christian" or "Judaeo-Christian" civilization. ^ a b Jackson J. Spielvogel (14 September 2016). Western Civilization: Volume A: To 1500. Cengage Learning. pp. 32–. ISBN 978-1-337-51759-1.  ^ a b c Bideleux, Robert; Jeffries, Ian. A history of eastern Europe: crisis and change. Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-415-16112-1.  ^ Western Civilization, Our Tradition; James Kurth; accessed 30 August 2011 ^ a b Thompson, William; Hickey, Joseph (2005). Society in Focus. Boston, MA: Pearson. 0-205-41365-X.  ^ Religions in Global Society – Page 146, Peter Beyer – 2006 ^ Role of Judaism
Judaism
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and civilization, " Judaism
Judaism
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Judaism
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Middle Ages
"Of the three great civilizations of Western Eurasia and North Africa, that of Christian
Christian
Europe
Europe
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Islam
"For some generations before Muhammad, the Arab mind had been, as it were, smouldering, it had been producing poetry and much religious discussion; under the stimulus of the national and racial successes it presently blazed out with a brilliance second only to that of the Greeks during their best period. From a new angle and with a fresh vigour it took up that systematic development of positive knowledge, which the Greeks had begun and relinquished. It revived the human pursuit of science. If the Greek was the father, then the Arab was the foster-father of the scientific method of dealing with reality, that is to say, by absolute frankness, the utmost simplicity of statement and explanation, exact record, and exhaustive criticism. Through the Arabs it was and not by the Latin
Latin
route that the modern world received that gift of light and power." ^ Lewis, Bernard (2002). What Went Wrong. Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-06-051605-5.  "For many centuries the world of Islam
Islam
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Islam
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Further reading[edit]

Ankerl, Guy (2000). Coexisting contemporary civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and West. INU societal research. Vol.1:. Global communication without universal civilization. Geneva: INU Press. ISBN 2-88155-004-5.  Bavaj, Riccardo: "The West": A Conceptual Exploration , European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: 28 November 2011. Daly, Jonathan. "The Rise of Western Power: A Comparative History of Western Civilization" (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014). ISBN 9781441161314. Daly, Jonathan. "Historians Debate the Rise of the West" (London and New York: Routledge, 2015). ISBN 978-1-13-877481-0. The Western Tradition
Tradition
homepage at Annenberg/CPB - where you can watch each episode on demand for free (Pop-ups required) J. F. C. Fuller. A Military History of the Western World. Three Volumes. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987 and 1988.

V. 1. From the earliest times to the Battle of Lepanto; ISBN 0-306-80304-6. V. 2. From the defeat of the Spanish Armada to the Battle of Waterloo; ISBN 0-306-80305-4. V. 3. From the American Civil War
American Civil War
to the end of World War II; ISBN 0-306-80306-2.

v t e

Western world
Western world
and culture

Aspects

Canon Law Literature Media Music Painting Modern/Contemporary Painting Philosophy Religion Thought

History

Classical antiquity Late Antiquity Middle Ages Renaissance Reformation Early modern period Great Divergence Modernism World Wars

v t e

Social generations of Western society

Lost Generation Interbellum Generation G.I. Generation Silent Generation Baby boomers Generation
Generation
X Millennials
Millennials
( Generation
Generation
Y) Generation
Generation
Z

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 252383743 NDL: 00570464

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