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World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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 -  Total 149,000,000 km2 
57,529,222 sq mi 
 -  2009 estimate 6,800,525,546[1] 
 -  Density 45/km2 
116.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total USD $70.650 trillion 
 -  Per capita USD $9,600 
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
 -  Total USD $55 trillion 
 -  Per capita USD $8,100 
HDI (2007) 0.753 

World is a common name for the sum of human civilization living, specifically human experience, history, or the 'human condition' in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth.[2] In a philosophical context, World may refer to the Universe, everything that constitutes reality. Some authors, such as Carl Sagan, use the term worlds to refer to heavenly bodies.


[edit] Etymology

The English word world continues Old English weorold (-uld), weorld, worold (-uld, -eld), a compound of wer "man" and eld "age", thus translating to "Age of Man".[3] The Old English continues a Common Germanic *wira-alđiz, also reflected in Old Saxon werold, Old High German weralt, Old Frisian warld and Old Norse verǫld.[4]

The corresponding word in Latin is mundus, literally "clean, elegant", itself a loan translation of Greek cosmos "orderly arrangement" . While the Germanic word thus reflects a mythological notion of a "domain of Man" (compare Midgard), presumably as opposed to the divine sphere on one hand, and the chthonic sphere of the underworld on the other, the Greco-Latin term expresses a notion of creation as an act of establishing order out of chaos.

[edit] History

Ox-drawn plow, Egypt, ca. 1200 BCE

The history of the world is the recorded memory of the experience, around the world, of Homo sapiens. Ancient human history[5] begins with the invention, independently at several sites on Earth, of writing, which created the infrastructure for lasting, accurately transmitted memories and thus for the diffusion and growth of knowledge.[6][7] Nevertheless, an appreciation of the roots of civilization requires at least cursory consideration to humanity's prehistory. Human history is marked both by a gradual accretion of discoveries and inventions, as well as by quantum leapsparadigm shifts, revolutions—that comprise epochs in the material and spiritual evolution of humankind.

One such epoch was the advent of the Agricultural Revolution.[8][9] Between 8,500 and 7,000 BCE, in the Fertile Crescent (a region in the Near East, incorporating the Levant and Mesopotamia), humans began the systematic husbandry of plants and animals — agriculture.[10] It spread to neighboring regions, and also developed independently elsewhere, until most Homo sapiens lived sedentary lives as farmers in permanent settlements[11] centered about life-sustaining bodies of water. These communities coalesced over time into increasingly larger units, in parallel with the evolution of ever more efficient means of transport.

The relative security and increased productivity provided by farming allowed these communities to expand. Surplus food made possible an increasing division of labor, the rise of a leisured upper class, and the development of cities and thus of civilization. The growing complexity of human societies necessitated systems of accounting; and from this evolved, beginning in the Bronze Age, writing.[12] The independent invention of writing at several sites on Earth allows a number of regions to claim to be cradles of civilization.

Civilizations developed perforce on the banks of rivers. By 3,000 BCE they had arisen in the Middle East's Mesopotamia (the "land between the Rivers" Euphrates and Tigris),[13] on the banks of Egypt's River Nile,[14][15][16] in India's Indus River valley,[17][18][19] and along the great rivers of China. The history of the Old World is commonly divided into Antiquity (in the ancient Near East,[20][21][22] the Mediterranean basin of classical antiquity, ancient China,[23] and ancient India, up to about the 6th century); the Middle Ages,[24][25] from the 6th through the 15th centuries; the Early Modern period,[26] including the European Renaissance, from the 16th century to about 1750; and the Modern period, from the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, beginning about 1750, to the present.

In Europe, the fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 CE) is commonly taken as signaling the end of antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. A thousand years later, in the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg's invention of modern printing,[27] employing movable type, revolutionized communication, helping end the Middle Ages and usher in modern times, the European Renaissance[28][29] and the Scientific Revolution.[30]

By the 18th century, the accumulation of knowledge and technology, especially in Europe, had reached a critical mass that sparked into existence the Industrial Revolution.[31] Over the quarter-millennium since, the growth of knowledge, technology, commerce, and of the potential destructiveness of war has accelerated, creating the opportunities and perils that now confront the human communities that together inhabit the planet.[32][33]

[edit] Population

Population density (people per km2) map of the world in 1994

The world population is the total number of living humans on Earth at a given time. As of 6 January 2010, the Earth's population is estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6,794,600,000.[34] The world population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death around 1400.[35] The fastest rates of world population growth (above 1.8%) were seen briefly during the 1950s then for a longer period during the 1960s and 1970s (see graph). According to population projections, world population will continue to grow until at least 2050. The 2008 rate of growth has almost halved since its peak of 2.2% per year, which was reached in 1963. World births have levelled off at about 134 million per year, since their peak at 163 million in the late 1990s, and are expected to remain constant. However, deaths are only around 57 million per year, and are expected to increase to 90 million by the year 2050. Because births outnumber deaths, the world's population is expected to reach 9 billion in 2040.[36][37]

[edit] Economy

World GDP per capita between 1500-2003

The world economy can be evaluated in various ways, depending on the model used, and this valuation can then be represented in various ways (for example, in 2006 US dollars). It is inseparable from the geography and ecology of Earth, and is therefore somewhat of a misnomer, since, while definitions and representations of the "world economy" vary widely, they must at a minimum exclude any consideration of resources or value based outside of the Earth. For example, while attempts could be made to calculate the value of currently unexploited mining opportunities in unclaimed territory in Antarctica, the same opportunities on Mars would not be considered a part of the world economy – even if currently exploited in some way – and could be considered of latent value only in the same way as uncreated intellectual property, such as a previously unconceived invention.

Beyond the minimum standard of concerning value in production, use, and exchange on the planet Earth, definitions, representations, models, and valuations of the world economy vary widely.

It is common to limit questions of the world economy exclusively to human economic activity, and the world economy is typically judged in monetary terms, even in cases in which there is no efficient market to help valuate certain goods or services, or in cases in which a lack of independent research or government cooperation makes establishing figures difficult. Typical examples are illegal drugs and other black market goods, which by any standard are a part of the world economy, but for which there is by definition no legal market of any kind.

However, even in cases in which there is a clear and efficient market to establish a monetary value, economists do not typically use the current or official exchange rate to translate the monetary units of this market into a single unit for the world economy, since exchange rates typically do not closely reflect worldwide value, for example in cases where the volume or price of transactions is closely regulated by the government. Rather, market valuations in a local currency are typically translated to a single monetary unit using the idea of purchasing power. This is the method used below, which is used for estimating worldwide economic activity in terms of real US dollars. However, the world economy can be evaluated and expressed in many more ways. It is unclear, for example, how many of the world's 6.8 billion people have most of their economic activity reflected in these valuations.

[edit] Philosophy

In philosophy, the World is everything that makes up reality. While clarifying the concept of world has arguably always been among the basic tasks of Western philosophy, this theme appears to have been raised explicitly only at the start of the twentieth century[38] and has been the subject of continuous debate. The question of what the world is has by no means been settled.


The traditional interpretation of Parmenides' work is that he argued that the every-day perception of reality of the physical world (as described in doxa) is mistaken, and that the reality of the world is 'One Being' (as described in aletheia): an unchanging, ungenerated, indestructible whole.


In his Allegory of the Cave, Plato distingues between forms and ideas and imagines two distinct worlds : the sensible world and the intelligible world.


The World as Will and Representation is the central work of Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer saw the human will as our one window to the world behind the representation; the Kantian thing-in-itself. He believed, therefore, that we could gain knowledge about the thing-in-itself, something Kant said was impossible, since the rest of the relationship between representation and thing-in-itself could be understood by analogy to the relationship between human will and human body.


In Hegel's philosophy of history, the expression Weltgeschichte ist Weltgericht (World History is a tribunal that judges the World) is used to assert the view that History is what judges men, their actions and their opinions. Science is born from the desire to transform the World in relation to Man ; its final end is technical application.


Two definitions that were both put forward in the 1920s, however, suggest the range of available opinion. "The world is everything that is the case," wrote Ludwig Wittgenstein in his influential Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, first published in 1922. This definition would serve as the basis of logical positivism, with its assumption that there is exactly one world, consisting of the totality of facts, regardless of the interpretations that individual people may make of them.


Martin Heidegger, meanwhile, argued that "the surrounding world is different for each of us, and notwithstanding that we move about in a common world"[39]. The world, for Heidegger, was that into which we are "thrown" willy-nilly and with which we, as beings-in-the-world, must come to terms. His conception of "the world-hood of the world" was most notably elaborated in his 1927 work Being and Time.


Some philosophers, often inspired by David Lewis, argue that metaphysical concepts such as possibility, probability and necessity are best analyzed by comparing the world to a range of possible worlds; a view commonly known as modal realism.

[edit] War

A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world's most powerful and populous nations. World wars span several continents, and last for multiple years. The term has usually been applied to two conflicts of unprecedented scale that occurred during the 20th century: World War I (1914–1918), World War II (1939–1945), although in retrospect a number of earlier conflicts may be regarded as "world wars". The other most common usage of the term[by whom?] is in the context of World War III[citation needed], a phrase usually used to describe any hypothetical future global conflict.

[edit] Usage

'World' distinguishes the entire planet or population from any particular country or region: world affairs are those which pertain not just to one place but to the whole world, and world history is a field of history which examines events from a global (rather than a national or a regional) perspective. Earth, on the other hand, refers to the planet as a physical entity, and distinguishes it from other planets and physical objects.

'World' can also be used attributively, as an adjective, to mean 'global', 'relating to the whole world', forming usages such as World community. See World (adjective). Or the body of humanity, as in the original meaning.

By extension, a 'world' may refer to any planet or heavenly body, especially when it is thought of as inhabited.

'World', in its original sense, when qualified, can also refer to a particular domain of human experience.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ U.S. Census Bureau U.S. & World Population Clocks,
  2. ^
  3. ^ American Heritage Dictionary
  4. ^ Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden: Brill. pg. 462. ISBN 90-04-12875-1.
  5. ^ Crawford, O. G. S. (1927). Antiquity. [Gloucester, Eng.]: Antiquity Publications [etc.]. (cf., History education in the United States is primarily the study of the written past. Defining history in such a narrow way has important consequences ...)
  6. ^ According to David Diringer ("Writing", Encyclopedia Americana, 1986 ed., vol. 29, p. 558), "Writing gives permanence to men's knowledge and enables them to communicate over great distances.... The complex society of a higher civilization would be impossible without the art of writing."
  7. ^ Webster, H. (1921). World history. Boston: D.C. Heath. Page 27.
  8. ^ Bellwood, Peter. (2004). First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-20566-7
  9. ^ Cohen, Mark Nathan (1977)The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-02016-3.
  10. ^ Tudge, Colin (1998). Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers: How Agriculture Really Began. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84258-7. 
  11. ^ Not all societies abandoned nomadism, especially those in isolated regions that were poor in domesticable plant species. See Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel.
  12. ^ Schmandt-Besserat, Denise (Jan-Feb 2002). "Signs of Life". Archaeology Odyssey: 6–7, 63. 
  13. ^ McNeill, Willam H. (1999) [1967]. "In The Beginning". A World History (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-19-511615-1. 
  14. ^ Baines, John and Jaromir Malek (2000). The Cultural Atlas of Ancient Egypt (revised ed.). Facts on File. ISBN 0816040362. 
  15. ^ Bard, KA (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. NY, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18589-0. 
  16. ^ Grimal, Nicolas (1992). A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Books. ISBN 0631193960. 
  17. ^ Allchin, Raymond (ed.) (1995). The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States. New York: Cambridge University Press. 
  18. ^ Chakrabarti, D. K. (2004). Indus Civilization Sites in India: New Discoveries. Mumbai: Marg Publications. ISBN 81-85026-63-7. 
  19. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hassan; Mohen, J-P. (eds.) (1996). History of Humanity, Volume III, From the Third Millennium to the Seventh Century BC. New York/Paris: Routledge/UNESCO. ISBN 0415093066. 
  20. ^ William W. Hallo & William Kelly Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History, Holt Rinehart and Winston Publishers, 1997
  21. ^ Jack Sasson, The Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1995
  22. ^ Marc Van de Mieroop, History of the Ancient Near East: Ca. 3000-323 B.C., Blackwell Publishers, 2003
  23. ^ "Ancient Asian World". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  24. ^ "Internet Medieval Sourcebook Project". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  25. ^ "The Online Reference Book of Medieval Studies". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  26. ^ Rice, Eugene, F., Jr. (1970). The Foundations of Early Modern Europe: 1460-1559. W.W. Norton & Co.. 
  27. ^ "What Did Gutenberg Invent?". BBC. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  28. ^ Burckhardt, Jacob (1878), The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans S.G.C Middlemore, republished in 1990 ISBN 0-14-044534-X
  29. ^ "''The Cambridge Modern History. Vol 1: The Renaissance (1902)". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  30. ^ Grant, Edward. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional, and Intellectual Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1996.
  31. ^ More; Charles. Understanding the Industrial Revolution (2000) online edition
  32. ^ Reuters – The State of the World The story of the 21st century
  33. ^ "Scientific American Magazine (September 2005 Issue) The Climax of Humanity". 2005-08-22. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  34. ^ U.S. Census Bureau - World POPClock Projection
  35. ^ World population estimates
  36. ^ World Population Clock — Worldometers
  37. ^ International Data Base (IDB) — World Population
  38. ^ Heidegger, Martin. Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Indiana University Press. 1982. P. 165
  39. ^ Heidegger, Martin. Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Indiana University Press. 1982. P. 164

[edit] External links