The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, North America, and Oceania. The Western world is also known as the Occident (from the Latin word occidens, "sunset, West"), in contrast to the Orient (from the Latin word oriens, "rise, East") or Eastern world. It might mean the Northern half of the North–South divide, the countries of the Global North (often equated with developed countries).
Used to develop national identities, the overarching concept of the West was forged in opposition to ideas such as "the East", "the Orient", "Eastern barbarism", "Oriental despotism", or the "Asiatic mode of production". Depending on the context and the historical period in question, Russia has sometimes been seen as a part of the West, and at other times, juxtaposed with it. Transformed from a directional concept to a socio-political concept and with the backdrop of the perception of an increasing acceleration of time, the idea of the West was temporalized and rendered as a concept of the future (German: Zukunftsbegriff) bestowed with notions of progress and modernity.
Running parallel to both the rise of the United States as a great power, and the development of communication and transportation technologies "shrinking" the distance between both shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the aforementioned country became more prominently featured in conceptualizations of the West.
By the mid-20th century, Western culture was exported worldwide through the emergent mass media: film, radio, television and recorded music; and the development and growth of international transport and telecommunication (such as transatlantic cable and the radiotelephone) played a decisive role in modern globalization.
In modern usage, Western world sometimes refers to Europe and to areas whose populations have had a large presence of particular European ethnic groups since the 15th century Age of Discovery. This is most evident in Australia and New Zealand's inclusion in modern definitions of the Western world: despite being part of the Eastern Hemisphere; these regions and those like it are included due to its significant British influence deriving from the colonisation of British explorers and the immigration of Europeans in the 20th century which has since grounded the country to the Western world politically and culturally.