“East” and “West” refer to civilization or culture, which was a bit of an over simplistic view of the world as seen by Europeans hundreds of years ago. “East” was eastern Asia, such as China, Japan, Korea, etc. and “west” was Europe. Since this was the European view of the world, you had the near east (Turkey, etc), the middle east, and the far east, as Captain Amazing said.
Africa wasn’t included because back then they thought of Africa as just a bunch of uncivilized savages. “East” and “west” were for people who actually had a culture. According to Europeans at the time, Africans were just a bunch of animals. They didn’t have a culture that was worth mentioning.
The Americas and Australia are “western” cultures because they are descended from European cultures. It’s kind of odd when someone from China talks about the “western” country of Australia, but that’s what you get.
It’s a cultural thing, and thus it is therefore not surprising that westerners consider western culture to be superior to all other cultures. The idea that we are all just people, however accurate it may be, hasn’t been all that popular throughout history. Most cultures have embraced the “us” vs. “them” model instead. The OP being in Toronto, is smack dab in the middle of a “western” cultured country, and therefore was culturally taught about the superiority of western culture, and was probably taught history almost exclusively from a western point of view.
It shouldn’t be any great surprise that people brought up in someplace like say Japan don’t quite have the same world viewpoint.
In more recent years, “east” vs. “west” has been used to describe communist vs. democratic countries. China is “east” because you are either going by the old rules and they are one of them funky oriental peoples, or China is “east” because you are following the newer definitions and it’s one of them evil commie countries.
Personally, I’m with you. We’re all just people.