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The common phrases used to describe the rich world include "the developed countries" and "the advanced industrial countries". To describe very poor countries, we usually refer to "The Third World". It can be more diplomatic to speak of "the developing countries", though this description is often applied to countries which are not so very poor.

Economists also refer to "the North South divide" to emphasize that countries in the northern hemisphere are generally richer than those in the southern hemisphere - namely Africa and Latin America.

People in the rich world have mixed attitudes towards giving aid to Third World countries. Some take the view that charity begins at home. It is true that there are many people in need in Britain. However, the people who are making the most generous donations to domestic charities are often the ones who are supporting emergency appeals for the victims of conflicts and disasters overseas. Church-based campaigns such as "Christian Aid" and secular ones such as "Children in Need" direct themselves to both national and international causes.

The obligation of the rich world towards the poor world is not based on history alone. As a former colonial power, Britain was once responsible for the slave trade and the exploitation of other countries' resources. But today, together with other rich countries, we continue to dominate world markets, setting the terms of trade in our favour. We continue to sell arms to oppressive regimes, which accumulate debt and do little to alleviate hunger among their own populations.