21.1 Challenges of Development

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.

Photo of a crowded group of shacks and houses built close together on a hillside.

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.


  • Understand how nations in the developing world have tried to build strong economies.
  • Describe obstacles to development in the global South.
  • Explain how development is changing patterns of life in the developing world.

Key Terms

  • development
  • literacy
  • developing world
  • traditional economy
  • Green Revolution
  • fundamentalist
  • shantytown

Working Toward Development

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 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.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments