Countries with an originally European-based culture / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to various nations and states in the regions of Australasia,[lower-alpha 1] Europe,[lower-alpha 2] and the Americas.[lower-alpha 3] The Western world likewise is called the Occident (from Latin occidēns 'setting down, sunset, west') in contrast to the Eastern world known as the Orient (from Latin oriēns 'origin, sunrise, east'). The West is considered an evolving concept; made up of cultural, political, and economic synergy among diverse groups of people, and not a rigid region with fixed borders and members. Definitions for "Western world" vary according to context and perspectives.
Modern-day Western world essentially encompasses the nations and states where civilization or culture is considered Western—the roots of which some historians have traced back to the Greco-Roman world. In the Global North–South schism, the West is often correlated with Global North. A historic idea of Europe as the West emerged in fifth century BCE Greece. A geographical concept of the West started to take shape in 4th century CE when Constantine–the first Christian Roman emperor divided the Roman Empire between the Greek East and Latin West. The East Roman Empire, later called the Byzantine Empire continued for a millennium, while the West Roman Empire lasted for only about a century and a half. This caused people in the Latin West to envy the Greek east and consider the Christians over there as heretics, which eventually lead to the East–West Schism in 1054 CE. Even though friendly relations continued between the two parts of the Christendom for some time, the crusades made the schism definitive with hostility. The West during these crusades tried to capture trade routes to the East and failed, it instead discovered the Americas. In the aftermath of European colonization of these newly discovered lands, an idea of the Western world, as an inheritor of Latin Christendom emerged.
The English word "West" was initially meant an adverb for direction. By the Middle Ages, Europeans began to use it to describe Europe. Since the eighteenth century, following European exploration, the word was used to indicate the regions of the world with European settlements. In contemporary times, countries that are considered to constitute the West vary according to perspective rather than their geographical location. Countries like Australia and New Zealand, located in the Eastern Hemisphere are included in modern definitions of the Western world, as these regions and others like them have been significantly influenced by the British—derived from colonization, and immigration of Europeans—factors that grounded such countries to the West. Despite being located in the Far East, a country like Japan, in some contexts, is considered a part of the West as it aligns with the ideals of Western-style democracy; while a country like Cuba, located in the Western Hemisphere, is argued as not being a part of the West as it aligns with the ideals of socialism and communism. Depending on the context and the historical period in question, Russia was sometimes seen as a part of the West, and at other times juxtaposed with it. Running parallel to the rise of the United States as a great power and the development of communication–transportation technologies "shrinking" the distance between both the Atlantic Ocean shores, the aforementioned country became more prominently featured in the conceptualizations of the West.
Between the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, prominent countries in the West such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand have been once envisioned as ethnocracies for whites. Racism is cited to had been a contributing factor in the westerners' colonization of the new world, which today constitutes much of the "geographical" Western world. Starting from the late 1960s, certain parts of the Western World have become notable for their diversity. The idea of "the West" over the course of time has evolved from a directional concept to a socio-political concept that had been temporalized and rendered as a concept of the future bestowed with notions of progress and modernity.