The Western world, also known as the Occident or the West, has been shaped by several different definitions, some geographic and some formed by other factors. To Europeans, the Western world used to be a literal geographical term, separating Europe from the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and the Far East. This is no longer used as a primary definition, since Australia and New Zealand geographically in the East, but are Western countries.
The concept of the Western part of the world is from Greco-Roman civilization in Europe and the advent of Christianity. The Western world has been influenced by the traditions of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Age of Enlightenment and was shaped by the colonialism of the 15th-20th centuries. This mass exportation of culture to the rest of the world was known as Westernization.
By the mid-20th century, Western culture was widespread throughout the world with the help of mass media, such as television, film, radio, and music. The term “Western culture” is used broadly to refer to traditions, social norms, religious beliefs, technologies, and political systems. Because the culture is so widespread, today the term “Western world” has a cultural, economic, and political definition.
The cultural definition, known as the Latin West, broadly refers to all of the countries that were shaped by Western Christianity (Catholic and Protestant churches), have similar cultural and ethical values, and use the Latin alphabet.
The political definition is known as the Cold War West. These countries had democratic, capitalist governments after World War II and were aligned against the USSR. The common defining factor in these countries is being against communism.
The third definition is the economic definition, known as the Rich West. This is a narrower definition that includes European-settled countries that have GDPs per capita over US$10,000. This does not include many Central and South American countries that are included in the other definitions but includes former communist countries that were excluded from the political definition.