That extremely vaguely defined cultural, political and economic area, as in the phrases "Western democracy", "Western media" and "Western militaries". Traditionally, the European nations and former colonies have defined the world in terms of cardinal points as follows:
- The West: Western Europe (Prroooobaably including Greece and Scandinavia, in spite of the actual geographic matters), UK, USA, Canada, and the Oceanic colonies (Which may be defined to include India and South Africa). Sometimes includes Eastern Europe and Western-affiliates in Asia such as the ROK and Japan. The North is usually lumped here, but when mentioned separately, it usually stands for Scandinavia.
- Alternately: Europe and the Anglosphere nations.
- The East: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, sometimes including Russia and the Indian sub-continent.
- The Middle East: Central Asia and Northern Africa.
- The South: Latin America; sometimes considered West due to its partially Western cultural heritage and its close ties with the USA. Sub-Saharan Africa is sometimes considered part of the South - in this case, expect to see it referred to as "the Global South". Antarctica is not a part of the South, nor is Australia.
- Africa doesn't get a cardinal point.
- There is no North.
- During the Cold War, there were some attempts to define "the North" as wealthy, developed nations and "the South" as impoverished, undeveloped ones.
Essentially, Western nations are those founded on Greco-Roman philosophical and scientific traditions.
Of course, The West is not one uniform entity and there are considerable variations in world view and media within. The USA is notably different from many of the countries of Europe, with constitutional prohibitions on government interference in church operations, rather than a state religion that no one pays attention to anymore. It also has the death penalty, along with other views that are seen as extremist in much of Europe, and Canada (and vice-versa).
Modern scholars do use these terms, but are just as likely to talk about "the North" and "the South," meaning what used to be called the "developed world" (the West, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, etc.) and the "developing world" (everything else) respectively.
Not to be confused with The Wild West