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October 6, 2009

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Norway top place to live, finds UN

Norway has retained its status as the world's most desirable country to live in, according to United Nations data released yesterday. Sub-Saharan African states afflicted by war and HIV/AIDS were ranked the least attractive places.

Data collected before the global economic crisis showed people in Norway, Australia and Iceland had the best living standards, while Niger, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone scored worst in terms of human development.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) index was compiled using 2007 data on GDP per capita, education, and life expectancy, and showed marked differences between the developed and developing world.

"Despite significant improvements over time, progress has been uneven," UNDP said. "Many countries have experienced setbacks over recent decades, in the face of economic downturns, conflict-related crises and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and this was even before the impact of the global economic crisis."

Five countries -- China, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and France -- climbed three or more places from the previous year, driven by greater earnings and longer life expectancy. China, Colombia and Venezuela also scored better due to improvements in education.

UNDP, which has published the index annually since 1990, said human development had improved globally by 15 percent since 1980, with China, Iran and Nepal the biggest climbers in the chart.

But life expectancy in Niger was 50, about 30 years shorter than Norway, the index found. Life expectancy in China was 72.9, while Japanese people lived longer than others, to 82.7 years on average. People in war-ravaged Afghanistan can expect to live to just 43.

For every US dollar earned per person in Niger, US$85 was earned in Norway.

Half the people in the poorest 24 countries were illiterate, compared to 20 percent in nations with medium levels of human development.


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