In world-systems theory,” the term semi-periphery country is often used to describe countries that are somewhere in between the most industrialized nations and those other countries that are peripheral, meaning more rural and not as relevant in the scope of the world economy. In some cases, these semi-periphery countries even happen to be physically located right in the middle of the core industrialized nations and the peripheral regions. For instance, some people do consider Mexico to be a semi-periphery bridge between the United States (One of the leading global powers in the world) as well as various periphery countries in South America, including Guatemala or Guyana, only to mention a few. These countries are often quite small, and their economy has little to no impact on the world as a whole.
The largest core countries are located in central Europe, North America, and Australia. On the opposite spectrum, Large Parts of Russia and Asia, as well as South America and most of Africa, are considered periphery countries. Semi-Periphery countries are largely concentrated in South America, with large nations such as Brazil, Argentina, and the aforementioned Mexico. However, countries such as South Africa, India, and certain areas of Asia or the Middle East are often regarded as semi-periphery countries. In some cases, a situation might arise in which a semi-periphery country might step up to becoming a core country. People argue that this is what is happening in some areas of the world. For instance, India is quickly growing its economy, and it is on track to become a core country, according to some industry experts.
The concept of semi-periphery countries might sound like a rather new idea. However, it all dates back to the 13th century and perhaps even earlier. During this era, some of the major historic trading routes had been established, including the popular silk road, which linked Asia with Europe. The current world system started to develop with the decline of feudalism in Europe. Since nations could no longer depend on the steady and affordable agricultural production provided by feudalism, trade between nations became more important than ever in history. This led European countries like Italy to establish dominance as core states since they were in a geographical position that led them to have an advantage. Trade led to the development of capitalism, and by the early 20th century, it became established as a dominant model, along with the increasing relevance of industrialization in core countries. After the first world war, the global landscapes changed considerably, and new powers emerged. Britain, Germany, and the United States became new core countries, while countries which had a huge impact on the world, including Spain, Portugal, and Holland, which were huge colonial trade power, became semi-peripheries in the scope of the global economy.
The idea of core, semi-periphery, and periphery country has deep roots in the social and political history of the world, and as we have discussed, it is something that is always shifting and evolving.