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Chapter 22

The World Today

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This chapter will introduce you to the events and forces that have shaped the world since the end of World War II.

Section 1

Europe and North America

Section 2

Latin America

Section 3


Section 4

Africa and the Middle East

Section 5

The World in a New Century

Target Reading Skill

Clarifying Meaning In this chapter you will focus on several techniques for clarifying meaning as you read: rereading or reading ahead, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Billowing in the background are the flags from 103 countries that participated in the 1992 World's Fair. Its theme was "The Age of Discovery."


MAPMASTER Skills Activity

Regions Allied victory in World War II encouraged the spread of democratic forms of government to countries that had not had them before. Identify Find regions on the map that were democratic before the war. Which regions have never had multiparty elections? Analyze Images Estimate what percentage of the regions represented on the map had democratic elections before World War II compared to those that have never had democratic elections. What kind of change does your conclusion represent?


Section 1

Europe and North America

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Find out about the Cold War

2. Learn about two hot wars: Korea and Vietnam.

3. Examine the fall of the Soviet Union and the unification of European nations.

4. Recognize the strong nations and economies in North America.

Taking Notes

Think about ways to paraphrase by combining sentences and restating ideas in your own words. Refer to this chart later as a guide to restating other main ideas in this section.

Target Reading Skill

Paraphrase When you paraphrase, you restate what you have read in your own words. By "saying back" the sentences or paragraphs (even if it is in your own head), you make sure that you understand what you have read. As you read this section, paraphrase or "say back" the information following each red or blue heading.

Key Terms

Cold War (kohld wawr) n. the name for the period between 1945 and 1989, when the United States and the Soviet Union competed for influence but did not fight in a military war

Arms Race (ahrmz rays) n. the buildup of military forces during the Cold War by the United States and the Soviet Union

glasnost (GLANS nawst) n. openness

perestroika (pehr uh STROI kuh) v. the restructuring of the Soviet government and economy

Two people looking over the top of the Berlin Wall, 1962

Berlin was a focus of Cold War tensions after World War II. The city was split into democratic West Berlin and communist East Berlin. In the 1950s, thousands of low-paid East Germans slipped into West Berlin. To stop the exodus, East Germany built a wall in 1961 that separated the two parts of the city. For the next thirty years, many people died trying to cross into West Berlin.

Protests in the late 1980s against communist governments convinced East German leaders that it was time for change. In a surprise announcement, the East German government declared on November 9, 1989, that it would open the border crossings at the Berlin Wall. At midnight that night, people walked through the border crossings safely for the first time since 1961. Just as the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of communist control, its destruction signaled the end of Soviet-style communism.


The Cold War

During World War II, the Soviet Union and the nations of the West worked together to defeat Nazi Germany. After the war, the Allies had to decide how to divide control over the Axis countries. Much of Eastern Europe was controlled by the USSR, which put Communist governments in place. Democratic governments were established in Western Europe. During these years, a great distrust developed between the USSR and democratic governments in the West, led by the United States.

Within a few years, the communist countries in Eastern Europe had built strong defenses and tried to isolate their citizens from the West by preventing travel and controlling the spread of information and ideas. Winston Churchill, who led Great Britain during World War II, said that the Soviets had built an "iron curtain" between the communist countries and the West.

This mistrust between the United States and other western democracies and the Communist dictatorships grew into a conflict called the Cold War. During the Cold War, Western democracies and eastern Communist countries competed for power and influence but didn't actually use their armies directly against each other. Although they did not fight each other directly, the U.S. and USSR built up their armies and weapons to discourage the other side from attacking. This buildup, called the Arms Race, included new missiles that could fly to targets hundreds of miles away and attack with nuclear bombs. It also led to new advancements in airplanes and jets, tanks, and many other weapons systems.

During the Cold War, the USSR, and later the People's Republic of China, supported groups that wanted to establish communist governments in their own countries. The USSR and China sent money, supplies, and even their own advisers and soldiers to many countries throughout the world to spread communist ideas. The U.S. and other western countries decided to fight the spread of communism by supporting governments and political groups that opposed communism. The tensions between the Western democracies and the communist powers set the stage for two key battlegrounds: Korea and Vietnam.

Reading Check What was the Cold War?

Walk in Space

Astronaut Edward White was the first person from the United States to walk in space. This walk took place on June 3, 1965. In 1969, the United States landed the first man on the moon. Analyze Why do you think space exploration was important to the United States in the 1960s?


Paraphrase or restate the information in the section titled The Cold War.


Two Hot Wars: Korea and Vietnam

The power struggle in Korea and Vietnam played a large part in the Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the USSR. Those not involved in the politics between the U.S. and the USSR were drawn in when the Cold War escalated into two hot wars between Communist and UN-backed forces.

Korea After World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel of latitude. North Korea became a communist ally of the Soviet Union, and the United States supported the noncommunist government in South Korea. Tension developed as governments in both the north and the south claimed the right to rule Korea.

In 1950, the communists in the north attacked in an attempt to unite Korea under communist control. Backed by the United Nations, the U.S., under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, sent soldiers to push the invaders out of South Korea. After landing troops behind enemy lines, MacArthur drove the invaders across the 38th parallel. His success moved China into action, and Chinese troops were sent to help the North Koreans.

Fighting continued until an armistice was signed in 1953. The two sides agreed to stop fighting and to keep the country divided as it had been before the war.

Vietnam By the early 1960s, the United States became involved in Vietnam. Like Korea, this Southeast Asian nation was divided into a communist northern state and a noncommunist southern state. Similarly, rebels in the north (known as the Viet Gong) also wanted to unite the country under communist rule and tried to overthrow the government in South Vietnam. To prevent these communist rebels from winning power, the U.S. sent economic and military aid, in addition to U.S. troops, to Vietnam.

Even with massive help from the United States, South Vietnam could not defeat the communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies. After many years of fighting and thousands of U.S. and Vietnamese deaths, the U.S. withdrew its troops and other military support of South Vietnam in 1973. Vietnam became a single country under Communist rule.

Reading Check Why did the United States enter the wars in Korea and Vietnam?

Vietnam War Protest

The Vietnam War created deep divisions among Americans. Some people supported U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Others called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Here, college students protest against the Vietnam War. Sequence When did the United States become involved in Vietnam?


The Soviet Union Falls and Europe Unites

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev (mee kahl EEL GAWR buh chawf) came to power in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev hoped to bring change and reform to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, economic cooperation helped Western European countries join together to compete with the world's economic superpowers.

The End of the Soviet Union Gorbachev sought an end to costly Cold War tensions and began to change the economy to one more like those in democracies. He launched a two-pronged effort at reform. First, he called for glasnost (GLAHS nawst), or openness. He ended censorship and encouraged people to openly discuss the country's problems. Second, he urged perestroika (pehr uh STROI kuh), which meant the restructuring of the government and economy.

When the changes did not work at first, some people tried to overthrow him and bring back the old-style communism. Their attempted coup failed, but it further weakened Gorbachev. In 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president. After 74 years the old Soviet Union came to an end in 1991.

The republics that had been put together in 1917 to form the Soviet Union now became independent again. The Republic of Russia remains the largest and most powerful. Several of the republics from the old USSR have joined Russia in a new Russian Federation. Others have joined the European Union.

Citizen Heroes

Mikhail Gorbachev


As the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the as the president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev worked to bring democracy to his country. In addition to democracy, Gorbachev was also interested in improving his country's slow-growing economy. During his term president, Gorbachev improved the Soviet Union's relationship with Western an Eastern countries. These reforms changed the political nature of Europe. For his part bringing an end to communism in the Soviet Union and encouraging the end of communism in other European nations, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

Russian president Boris Yeltsin (holding a sheet of paper) stands on top of a tank and condemns the attempted coup by Communist hard-liners before a crowd of people in Moscow.


Chart Skills

The European Union

In 2003, the EU was made up of 15 member nations. Ten additional nations signed treaties with the EU in 2003, increasing the size of both the EU's population and land area. Identify In what year did the most EU members join? Predict Will the number of EU members shrink or grow over time? Why?

Toward European Unity Economic cooperation helped Western Europe recover from World War II. In 1952 France, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (LUX sum burg) set up the European Coal and Steel Community. This agency set prices, regulated coal and steel industries, and increased economic growth in Western Europe.

These same nations also signed a treaty to form the European Community or Common Market. The Common Market expanded free trade, ended tariffs on goods, and allowed workers and capital to move freely across national borders. It set up the European Parliament. Citizens of Common Market Countries elected this multinational body. Its powers were limited, however, because member states remained independent.

European Union In the 1980s and 1990s, the Common Market expanded further and took the name European Union (EU). The EU pushed for complete economic unity and greater political unity. It eliminated national passports, which gave citizens from member states greater mobility, or freedom to move around. It also ended most tariffs. In 1999, the EU began launching the euro, a single currency to be used by EU members. The EU was a powerful force and helped Europe compete with economic superpowers like the United States and Japan.

Reading Check How did Europeans benefit from the formation of the European Union?

The Euro, official currency of the European Union


Strong Nations and Economies in North America

When the communist government collapsed in the USSR in 1990, the United States stood alone as the world's only superpower. Militarily, the United States is the strongest country in the world and spends more on defense than all the other countries of the world combined. The United States has remained a rich nation and is a magnet for immigrants.

Like the United States, Canada is also a nation shaped by immigrants. Canada, too, ranks among the major democratic, industrial powers. Through quiet diplomacy, Canada is a strong member of NATO, and its troops serve in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

Economic competition led to disputes over trade and tariffs between the U.S. and Canada. A key step to solving these issues was the creation of a free-trade zone between the two nations. NAFTA later extended this zone to Mexico.

Reading Check What makes the United States the world's only superpower?

The Pentagon, called such because of its five-sided shape, is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.

Section 1 Assessment

Key Terms

Review the Key Terms at the beginning of this section. Use each term in a sentence that explains its meaning.

Target Reading Skill

Paraphrase the paragraph under the heading Vietnam on page 632.

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


(a) Identify Identify the two main kinds of government in Eastern and Western Europe.

(b) Analyze Information What was the connection between the Cold War and the Arms Race?


(a) Recall How were Korea and Vietnam divided?

(b) Explain What role did the Cold War play in the Korean and Vietnam Wars?


(a) List List examples of the changes and reforms Gorbachev brought to the Soviet Union.

(b) Identify Cause and Effect What was the main cause of the fall of the Soviet Union?


(a) Identify Cause and Effect What was the main reason for the formation of the Common Market?

(b) Draw Inferences How does being in the European Union make the individual countries stronger?


(a) Draw Conclusions What was the world's other superpower before 1990?

(b) Summarize What are the two main measures of U.S. power?

Writing Activity

Suppose that you were an East G r- man who was able to peacefully walk through the Berlin Wall after it was opened in 1989. Write a journal entry describing some of your thoughts about the Wall before i was opened, and discuss some of your hopes now that it is open.


Section 2

Latin America

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Understand why Mexico has experienced reform, but little economic growth in recent years.

2. Learn about revolutions and wars in Central America.

3. Find out about unstable governments and economies in South America.

4. Learn about the Cuban Revolution.

Taking Notes

As you read this section, summarize events and ideas related to the changes in Latin America since World War II. Organize your findings into a table like the one below.

Target Reading Skill

Reread or Read Ahead Rereading and reading ahead are strategies that can help you understand words and ideas in the text. If you do not understand a certain passage, reread it to look for connections among the words and sentences. It might also help to read ahead, because a word or idea may be clarified further on.

Key Terms

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) (NAF tuh) n. a trade agreement that lowered tariffs and trade barriers among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico

guerrilla (guh RIL uh) n. a member of a small defensive force of soldiers that makes surprise raids

Sandinista (san duh NEES tuh) n. a member of a political movement that overthrew the Somoza regime in Nicaragua

Department of Defense photograph showing Soviet ships being loaded in Cuba

In October of 1962, the world watched as the United States and the Soviet Union were on the edge of a global nuclear war. The Soviets sent missiles to Cuba. Located 90 miles away from the U.S. coast, any missiles they launched were capable of hitting targets throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and the eastern U.S. When U.S. spy planes discovered the missiles, the U.S. government and President John F. Kennedy ordered a blockade by the navy to prevent further shipments of missiles. U.S. armed forces were ready for an attack. The Soviets were also prepared to use nuclear weapons should the United States invade Cuba.

After thirteen days, Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (nih KEE tah KROO shawf) reached a compromise. Their secret negotiations resulted in an agreement by the Soviets to remove nuclear weapons from Cuba and by the U.S. to remove nuclear weapons in Turkey. This ended the Cuban Missile Crisis.


NAFTA Border Inspection

NAFTA links the markets of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Trucks containing goods from Mexico are inspected at the California border. Draw Inferences What kinds of goods do you think are being transported in the picture?

Mexico: Reform but Little Growth

Since World War II, Mexico's attempts at economic growth have had mixed results. A major oil producer, Mexico has struggled to pay a heavy foreign debt. This debt has prevented the economy from growing and has kept much of the population in poverty. For example, the average yearly income per person in Mexico was only $5,910 in 2002. Hopes for growth rose in 1994, when Mexico joined Canada and the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This trade agreement sharply lowered tariffs and investment barriers among the three countries. NAFTA has brought some new business and investment opportunities to Mexico. At the same time, however, it hurt Mexican manufacturers who could not compete with the amount of goods brought in from the United States.

In addition to trade, the Mexican people have also looked to reform their government. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had been in control of Mexican government since 1929. When the PRI finally lost power to Vicente Fox after the 2000 presidential election, many expected the economy to grow and the rights of Mexican workers to be better protected. However, many Mexicans remain unhappy with the lack of economic progress under Fox's administration. Critics of NAFTA fault Fox for allowing investments by foreign countries without adequate protection for workers and the environment.

Reading Check What is NAFTA?


Revolutions and Wars in Central America

In the past thirty years Central America has been a troubled region in the Americas. The three major countries there, Guatemala (gwaht uh MAH luh), El Salvador (el SAL vuh dawr), and Nicaragua (nik uh RAH gwuh), have suffered from bloody civil wars.

Guatemala Through the first half of the twentieth century, dictators and military strongmen ruled Guatemala. Most of these leaders were supported with aid from the United States. In 1944, liberal governments began reforms until they were overthrown in 1954. Harsh military governments followed and the country was soon in a civil war. Since 1996, a democratic government has been in control, but the military remains a powerful force.

Reread or Read Ahead

Reread the section on El Salvador to help you better understand the meaning of guerrilla, which is also used in the paragraph that follows.

El Salvador Civil war broke out in 1979 between a right-wing government and left wing guerillas, members of a small defensive force of soldiers that make surprise raids. Although the United States pressed the government to make some reforms, they also gave military and financial aid to the Salvadoran (sal vuh DAWR un) government. The twelve-year war ended in 1992.

Nicaragua The Somoza (soh MOH zah) family ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. In July 1979 left-wing guerillas known as the Sandinistas drove the Somoza family from power. The Sandinistas threatened U.S. interests. To stop them, the United States supported the contras, or guerrillas who fought against the Sandanistas in the 1980s. The contras increased their attacks until the 1984 presidential election. A peace treaty was finally signed in 1987. Moderate governments have been in power since then.

Reading Check How did the United States help the Salvadoran government?

Contra rebels in Nicaragua


Unstable Governments and Economies in South America

For both Argentina and Brazil, economic swings have contributed to political and social unrest. In both nations, periods of dictatorship and military rule have limited the growth of democracy.

Brazil In 1964, the military established a dictatorship that lasted nearly twenty years. Although the economy boomed during these years, the people longed for democracy, which the military granted in stages until a full presidential election was held in 1989. This signaled a full return to democracy. Despite some economic progress, Brazil's poverty and inequality eventually led to the election of a socialist president.

Argentina Argentina emerged from World War II firmly in the control of a former army colonel, Juan Per—n (hwahn pay RAWN), and his wife Eva. After having won two consecutive presidential elections, Per—n was ousted in 1955 by the military. Civilian and military governments came and went for the next two decades until Per—n was reelected in the 1973 elections. After his death in 1974, his wife ruled for two years until she was overthrown by the military. This began a period of ruthless dictatorship. During the 1980s, the military waged a "dirty war" against leftist opponents of the regime until a civilian government was restored in 1983. In 2001, Argentina was shaken by an economic crisis that led to strikes, demonstrations, and a change of government.

Reading Check Who was the target of the "dirty war?"

Links to Art


The English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber transformed the life of Eva Per—n into a theatrical extravaganza in his musical Evita. Webber's musical dramatically portrayed the relationship of Maria Eva Duarte de Per—n (muh REE uh EE vuh DWAHRT ee day pay RAWN) and her beloved country, Argentina. Webber's musical premiered in London in 1978 and opened on Broadway in 1979. His musical received some of the entertainment world's top honors. Evita won seven Tony awards, and its original cast won a Grammy for their soundtrack album.

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