Is Greece referred to as a third world country?
No, Greece is not a “third-world country”—but Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland are.;
The term “third-world country” originally had nothing whatsoever to do with how “developed” a country supposedly was. Instead, the French demographer Alfred Sauvy originally coined the terms “first world,” “second world,” and “third world” in 1952 to describe the three major alliance groups that emerged during the Cold War.
Thus, the term “first world” originally referred to the western capitalist nations formally allied with the United States. The term “second world” originally referred to eastern communist nations formally allied with the Soviet Union. The term “third world” referred to countries that were not allied with the United States or the Soviet Union that instead chose to remain neutral.
Greece joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952—the same year in which Sauvy coined the term “third world.” Therefore, by Sauvy’s definition, Greece is a first-world country. Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland, however, never joined NATO, nor did they ever join any other formal alliance with the United States or the Soviet Union. These three European countries all chose to remain formally neutral. Therefore, they are all third-world countries according to Sauvy’s original definition.
ABOVE: Map from Wikimedia Commons showing the three major alliance groups of the Cold War as they existed between May and August 1975. The “first world” is shown in blue; the “second world” is shown in red, and the “third world” is shown in green.