The new Asian and African nations that won independence after World War II, along with the countries in Latin America, focused on modernization and development. Development is the process of building stable governments, improving agriculture and industry, and raising standards of living. Development involves on such goals as building self-sufficient economies and increasing literacy, or the ability to read and write.
Poverty and rapidly increasing populations often lead to growing slums near urban areas, like these in Brazil. Brazil's slums, or favelas, often have serious problems with crime, gangs, and drugs.
The developing nations emerged during the Cold War, when the world was split between the communist East and the capitalist West. Today, an economic gulf divides the world into two spheres—the relatively rich nations of the global North and the relatively poor nations of the global South.
The nations working toward development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are known collectively as the developing world. The developing world is sometimes called the global South because most of these nations are located in the zone between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The global South holds 75 percent of the world's people and much of its natural resources.
Some nations have enjoyed strong growth, especially the Asian “tigers”—Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea—and the oil-exporting nations of the Middle East. Overall, though, the global South remains generally poor and underdeveloped. Unlike the fully industrialized nations of the global North, newer nations have not had enough time to build up their capital, resources, or industries.