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Peripheral and Semi-Peripheral Regions in World System Theory

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Geography
Wordcount: 1768 words Published: 9th Sep 2021

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The terms ‘Core’, ‘Peripheral’ and the ‘Semi peripheral’ are born from the World systems theory.

World systems theory has been closely associated with Immanuel Wallerstein.

According to him, it is “multicultural territorial division of labour in which the production and exchange of basic goods and raw materials is necessary for the everyday life of its inhabitants.”

Our world is divided into different regions – the ‘Core’, the ‘Peripheral’ and the ‘Semi – Peripheral’.

The ‘core’ nations are the highly economically developed countries with they reaping benefits from the economy of the rest of the world.

The ‘peripheral’ nations are the third world countries which are still in the developing stage with a very low standard of living.

The ‘semi-peripheral’ nations are those which are between the ‘core’ and the ‘peripheral’. They are the stabilising factors in the world system.

The world is divided into two major world regions. First, the ‘core’ and second, the ‘periphery’. And somewhere in between them, lies the ‘semi periphery’. Now, before starting discussing about these regions, first let us know their meanings and the countries which come under these regions.


The core consists of the world powers and countries, in other words, the developed or first world countries. This is basically the ‘centre’ point which benefits from the economy of the peripheral regions and enjoy wealth not just from their economy but also from the other world regions. They have most of the wealth of the world. Most of the characteristics of globalization like development, scientific innovation, trans national links, good healthcare, high education occur in these regions. They are technologically, socially, politically, geographically highly developed with peripheral and semi peripheral lagging behind. Wage rate, employment conditions, access to healthcare, infrastructure and many other factors contribute to the countries being ‘core’ which in turn is ignorant in their peripheral counterparts.

Core regions’ success is determined by being dominant and exploiting the other world regions which in turn is determined by the participation of the other regions in the world system.

What is more significant in these regions is their population. Population is stagnant and way too less in compared with the peripheral. In other words, 75% of the benefits of the world economy are enjoyed by just 15% of the world population. These countries are highly industrialized with ever growing tertiary sector. Most of its population is the working class with importance given to the salaried jobs than being in business.

  • They are wealthy and powerful
  • Very much industrialized
  • Specialization in finance, information and service industries
  • Strong military
  • Highly influential
  • Independent of outside control
  • Forefront in inventing new technologies

Some major core regions are:


The ‘Periphery’ consists of the rest of the world or in other words, the third world countries. These regions are characterised by poverty, ignorant healthcare, less education and a low standard of living. Infrastructure is very bothering with more space for slums. Some places do show positive development but generally this is the state of peripheral regions.

The major factor in these regions is the migration from small cities to the bigger cities to have better economical opportunities which in turn poses problems in terms of housing, unemployment and many others. Despite of there being no jobs in the cities, people from the rural areas migrate in order to support their families.

Population is sky rocketing is these regions as children are perceived to be the family supporters in terms of income generation and no education adds to the population woes by having no information on family planning.

Majority of the population growth happens in these regions.

Crime rate is very alarming in these regions as because of massive unemployment, people turn to crimes to have income and support their families.

  • Economically backward
  • Expects investments from the core nations
  • Most of the people poor and uneducated
  • Inequality
  • Lack of development
  • Easily influenced

Regions that are peripheral in nature are:

Semi – peripheral:

The term “semi peripheral” originated in the thirteenth century as there was a growing need to have a separate term for those regions and countries which have moved away from the ‘periphery’ but have not yet become ‘core’.

The category describes them as those regions which remain dependant and to some extent under developed despite having a significant rate of industrialization.

In world systems’ theory, semi peripheral are the regions positioned between the core and the peripheral. The organizational structure of these countries or regions are both of core and peripheral countries and are often geographically located in between them or between two or more core countries.

These are the industrializing and mostly capitalist countries. They play a major role in mediating between the core and the peripheral regions in terms of social, economic and political activities.

These regions are different from the peripheral regions as they provide room for industrial growth, innovative technology and reforms in social and organizational structure.

Just as the core regions, semi peripheral regions also tend to dominate and exploit the peripheral regions but not to the same extent as the former.

Semi peripheral countries have chances of being promoted to the core countries group mainly because of their industrialized nature and also because they contribute to manufacturing and exportation of variety of goods. They can be also defined as being the key structural element as it plays a very vital role.

Some of the regions which come under this category are:

Peripheral regions will remain peripheral?

Now, the second part of peripheral countries remaining peripheral or advancing to become the semi peripheral or core is to be answered.

According to me, every nation has the space to improve given proper strategy and planning.

First world countries have started note of the third world countries which are growing at a stupendous rate socially, economic and political.

As far as current economical trend goes, third world countries like India, China are fast emerging to be the superpowers of the coming decade. They with their stable economic growth rate are outnumbering many of the countries ranked higher above them. Many core countries like the United States are feeling the jitters after analysing the growth trend that some of the peripheral countries are showing. Many of the multibillionaires from these peripheral countries are being given space in the ‘Multibillionaires of the world’ list which indirectly shows the way where the latter are headed. New technological advancements, scientific innovations are increasing as compared to the years and decades gone by.

First world countries are facing problems like unemployment which is harming their economy considerably whereas the developing nations have not experienced the bolt of recession as the former have.

Socially, as the core countries perform well as they always done on the education, healthcare, infrastructure, wage rate part, the peripheral nations are improving but at a slow rate. Core countries have always given preference to the needs of the people and their standard of living whereas the latter have only recently started noticing the social factors that need to be addressed much more any other problem.

Education is being given due importance with literacy rate going notches higher. Awareness of higher education is making even the rural areas note the advantages and send their children to schools.

Social hierarchy, caste system are one of the major factors in stagnating the growth of the third world countries as these only promote differences in the system. This calls for equality amongst people and a better social structure. This is fast improving as there is a need to acknowledge efforts made by everyone in improving the overall economy of the nations.

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Politically, many countries are getting democratic with citizens given right to vote and choose their own leaders as opposed to the fact that the people were treated as slaves. The right to be governed upon is solely in the hands of the people in many nations though some are still under military governance and self imposed leaders. When somebody forces himself on the rest solely on the power status, that nation is bound to get stagnant in all the fields, whether its social, economic or political. This is slowly and steadily improving in the peripheral region though the rate is not that good. This makes the region unstable as political pressure makes it handicapped.


Still there are many factors which need to be addressed by the peripheral nations in order to advance. There is huge possibility of some of the third world countries becoming part of the core or semi peripheral group in economical terms but as far as the social system goes, they need to work hard to be in that league and achieve what the core countries have, long back. Proper planning and strategy with no corruption and transparent system will pave way to be advanced and shift to the other better world systems’.


  • Carlos A. Martinez-Vela n.d. World Systems Theory [Online].Available from: http://web.mit.edu/esd.83/www/notebook/WorldSystem.pdf [Accessed 08 Feb. 10]
  • Colin Steif (August 4, 2008) Core andPeriphery [Online]. Available from: http://geography.about.com/od/politicalgeography/a/coreperiphery.htm [Accessed 08 Feb.10]
  • Techtor-ga (May 26, 2003) Core and Periphery [Online]. Available from: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/208711.html [Accessed 06 Feb.10]
  • Wikipedia n.d. World-systems approach [Online]. Available from :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World-systems_approach [Accessed 06 Feb.10]


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