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Western civilization

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The World of Civilizations: Post-1990

Western civilization, western culture or the West is made up of European culturally derived societies (most notably in the Classical Roman heritage,Western Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Democracy and Liberalism). This at least includes Western and Central Europe, English speaking North America, Australia and New Zealand. The identities of places such as Latin America, South Africa, Israel, the Philippines and Singapore are disputed due to those countries being a blend of both western and non western cultures.

Until the process of secularization in the west began with the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century, Western civilization was also called Christendom meaning the area where the Christian religion is in the majority (a view held by historian Arnold Toynbee).[1] By this definition, most parts of Africa would now also be part of Western civilization since many Africans have been converted to Christianity since the 1950s.

Westernization is the transformation of a non western culture to Western standards, with historical examples being the Romanization of "barbarian" europe in the classical period, the Hispanization of South America, Central America and the Philippines in the 1500s, the Anglicization of North America and Australia in the 1700s, the Francization of North and West Africa in the 1800s and the current Americanization of many first world nations such as Singapore and Israel through Hollywood/ American popular culture.

Though there are many supporters of westernization, there are also many people who oppose it it expanding at the expense of local cultures.

Related pages


  1. Toynbee, Arnold 1959. A study of history. Volume XI—Historical Atlas and Gazetteer. Oxford University Press. Map, page 93 “Civilization current in AD 1952” – Western civilization is shown as including the Americas, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.