This is the new edition of this annual bestseller of fascinating facts and figures about the world we live in. The 2008 edition has been completely updated, revised, refreshed and expanded. It contains rankings on more than 200 topics in subject areas as wide-ranging as geography, population, business, the economy, trade, transport, finance, industry, demographics, the environment, society, culture and crime. This annual bestseller has the answers to all these questions and more. It contains data on 182 countries and profiles of more than 65 of the world's major economies, together with special profiles on the Euro Zone and the World.
The best level of human development and quality of life overall is to be found in:
9. Netherlands, Finland & Switzerland
12.Belgium & Luxembourg
Worst quality of life:
Bottom 5: Niger, Sierra Leone, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau.
Standard of living
The Economist uses the Human Development Report 2006 that looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income).
If you want to know:
- the highest mountain or longest river
- where economic growth is fastest or inflation is highest
- who consumes the most energy
- where innovation is highest
- where computer and mobile phone ownership is highest
- which countries have the most asylum seekers
- who spends most, and who the least, on healthcare
- the heaviest drinkers and smokers
- who recycles most
- facts about obesity
Besides quality of life, South Africa has the highest house price inflation and Ecuador the most murders per capita.
Australians drink the most alcohol, Greeks smoke the most cigarettes, Japan reads the most newspapers. Japan also has the world's largest proportion of elderly people with 26% of its population over 60, while European country Luxembourg has the highest GDP per capita - because part of its workforce lives in neighbouring countries.
While the USA and Japan remain the biggest economies, they come in at 8th and 7th respectively on the quality of life stakes. The UK which is the world's fifth biggest economy, has a 17th ranking in the "human development" index.
The United States heads the rankings of the world's biggest producers of carbon emissions with about 4,800 million tonnes, followed by China on 4,140 million. Russia comes in third place on 1,500 million tonnes.
The book, which is put together by the influential British magazine, also reveals a string of interesting facts about lifestyle trends:
* Crime, Ecuador has 18.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Swaziland on 13.6 and Mongolia on 12.8.
* The USA has by far the biggest prison population with 2.2 million behind bars, while China carries out by the far the most executions - 3,400 in 2004.
* Belgium scores best for children's schooling.
Some of the economic figures could raise eyebrows, especially in the Economist's home country:
* House price inflation is highest in South Africa, where prices rose 351% from 1997-2006, followed by Ireland on 253% and the UK on 191%.
The publication also includes an update of the Economist's so-called Big Mac Index, which attempts to reflect purchasing power by the cost of a McDonald's burger.
* The cheapest BigMac can be found in China at US$1.41, with Hong Kong on US$1.54 and Malaysia on $US1.57, while the most expensive Big Mac in the world is to be found in Iceland, at nearly US$7.5.
Alcohol consumption (litres per head of population per year)
Most: 1. Australia 99.2; 2. Czech Republic 98.2; 3. Germany 96.2; 4. Finland 92; 5 Austria 87.8.
Life expectancy (years)
Highest: Andorra 83.5; Japan 82.6; Hong Kong 82.2; Iceland 81.8; Switzerland 81.7.
Newspaper readership (copies read per thousand of population)
Most: 1. Japan, 546; 2. Norway 514; Sweden 488; Finland 436; Singapore 380.
Music sales (dollars spent per head on music)
Most: UK 36.2; Japan 29; Norway 28.9; Switzerland 28.2; United States 23.5.
No well-informed person can afford to be without it.