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Introduction World
Globally, the 20th century was marked by: (a) two devastating world wars; (b) the Great Depression of the 1930s; (c) the end of vast colonial empires; (d) rapid advances in science and technology, from the first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (US) to the landing on the moon; (e) the Cold War between the Western alliance and the Warsaw Pact nations; (f) a sharp rise in living standards in North America, Europe, and Japan; (g) increased concerns about the environment, including loss of forests, shortages of energy and water, the decline in biological diversity, and air pollution; (h) the onset of the AIDS epidemic; and (i) the ultimate emergence of the US as the only world superpower. The planet's population continues to explode: from 1 billion in 1820, to 2 billion in 1930, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1988, and 6 billion in 2000. For the 21st century, the continued exponential growth in science and technology raises both hopes (e.g., advances in medicine) and fears (e.g., development of even more lethal weapons of war).
Geography World
Map references:
Physical Map of the World, Political Map of the World, Standard Time Zones of the World
total: 510.072 million sq km
land: 148.94 million sq km
water: 361.132 million sq km
note: 70.8% of the world's surface is water, 29.2% is land
Area - comparative:
land area about 16 times the size of the US
Land boundaries:
the land boundaries in the world total 250,472 km (not counting shared boundaries twice)
356,000 km
Maritime claims:
a variety of situations exist, but in general, most countries make the following claims: contiguous zone - 24 NM; continental shelf - 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation, or 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin; exclusive fishing zone - 200 NM; exclusive economic zone - 200 NM; territorial sea - 12 NM; boundary situations with neighboring states prevent many countries from extending their fishing or economic zones to a full 200 NM; 43 nations and other areas that are landlocked include Afghanistan, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Holy See (Vatican City), Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Paraguay, Rwanda, San Marino, Slovakia, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, West Bank, Zambia, Zimbabwe; two of these, Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan, are doubly landlocked
two large areas of polar climates separated by two rather narrow temperate zones form a wide equatorial band of tropical to subtropical climates
the greatest ocean depth is the Mariana Trench at 10,924 m in the Pacific Ocean
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Bentley Subglacial Trench -2,540 m
note: in the oceanic realm, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is the lowest point, lying -10,924 m below the surface of the Pacific Ocean
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (1999 est.)
Natural resources:
the rapid depletion of nonrenewable mineral resources, the depletion of forest areas and wetlands, the extinction of animal and plant species, and the deterioration in air and water quality (especially in Eastern Europe, the former USSR, and China) pose serious long-term problems that governments and peoples are only beginning to address
Land use:
arable land: 10.58%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 88.42% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
2,714,320 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
large areas subject to severe weather (tropical cyclones), natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions)
Environment - current issues:
large areas subject to overpopulation, industrial disasters, pollution (air, water, acid rain, toxic substances), loss of vegetation (overgrazing, deforestation, desertification), loss of wildlife, soil degradation, soil depletion, erosion
Geography - note:
the world is now thought to be about 4.55 billion years old, just about one-third of the 13-billion-year age estimated for the universe
People World
6,302,309,691 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.2% (male 932,581,592; female 885,688,851)
15-64 years: 63.7% (male 2,009,997,089; female 1,964,938,201)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 193,549,180; female 247,067,032) (2003 est.)
note: some countries do not maintain age structure information, thus a slight discrepancy exists between the total world population and the total for world age structure
Population growth rate:
1.17% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
20.43 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
8.83 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 51.38 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 53.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.95 years
male: 62 years
female: 70.23 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.65 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Christians 32.79% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.62%, Orthodox 3.51%, Anglicans 1.31%), Muslims 19.6%, Hindus 13.31%, Buddhists 5.88%, Sikhs 0.38%, Jews 0.24%, other religions 12.83%, non-religious 12.53%, atheists 2.44% (2001 est.)
Chinese, Mandarin 14.37%, Hindi 6.02%, English 5.61%, Spanish 5.59%, Bengali 3.4%, Portuguese 2.63%, Russian 2.75%, Japanese 2.06%, German, Standard 1.64%, Korean 1.28%, French 1.27% (2000 est.)
note: percents are for "first language" speakers only
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77%
male: 83%
female: 71% (1995 est.)
Government World
Administrative divisions:
268 nations, dependent areas, other, and miscellaneous entries
Legal system:
all members of the UN plus Switzerland are parties to the statute that established the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or World Court
Economy World
Economy - overview:
Growth in global output (gross world product, GWP) fell from 4.8% in 2000 to 2.2% in 2001 and 2.7% in 2002. The causes: sluggishness in the US economy (21% of GWP) and in the 15 EU economies (19% of GWP); continued stagnation in the Japanese economy (7.2% of GWP); and spillover effects in the less developed regions of the world. China, the second-largest economy in the world (12% of GWP), proved an exception, continuing its rapid annual growth, officially announced as 8% but estimated by many observers as perhaps two percentage points lower. Russia (2.6% of GWP), with 4% growth, continued to make uneven progress, its GDP per capita still only one-third that of the leading industrial nations. The other 14 successor nations of the USSR and the other old Warsaw Pact nations again experienced widely divergent growth rates; the three Baltic nations continued as strong performers, in the 5% range of growth. The developing nations also varied in their growth results, with many countries facing population increases that erode gains in output. Externally, the nation-state, as a bedrock economic-political institution, is steadily losing control over international flows of people, goods, funds, and technology. Internally, the central government often finds its control over resources slipping as separatist regional movements - typically based on ethnicity - gain momentum, e.g., in many of the successor states of the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia, in India, in Indonesia, and in Canada. Externally, the central government is losing decision-making powers to international bodies. In Western Europe, governments face the difficult political problem of channeling resources away from welfare programs in order to increase investment and strengthen incentives to seek employment. The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of pollution, desertification, underemployment, epidemics, and famine. Because of their own internal problems and priorities, the industrialized countries devote insufficient resources to deal effectively with the poorer areas of the world, which, at least from the economic point of view, are becoming further marginalized. The introduction of the euro as the common currency of much of Western Europe in January 1999, while paving the way for an integrated economic powerhouse, poses economic risks because of varying levels of income and cultural and political differences among the participating nations. The terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 accentuate a further growing risk to global prosperity, illustrated, for example, by the reallocation of resources away from investment to anti-terrorist programs. The opening of war in March 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq added new uncertainties to global economic prospects. (For specific economic developments in each country of the world in 2002, see the individual country entries.)
GWP (gross world product) - purchasing power parity - $49 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,900 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 32%
services: 64% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
developed countries 1% to 4% typically; developing countries 5% to 60% typically; national inflation rates vary widely in individual cases, from declining prices in Japan to hyperinflation in several Third World countries
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
30% combined unemployment and underemployment in many non-industrialized countries; developed countries typically 4%-12% unemployment
dominated by the onrush of technology, especially in computers, robotics, telecommunications, and medicines and medical equipment; most of these advances take place in OECD nations; only a small portion of non-OECD countries have succeeded in rapidly adjusting to these technological forces; the accelerated development of new industrial (and agricultural) technology is complicating already grim environmental problems
Industrial production growth rate:
3% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
14.85 trillion kWh (2001 est.)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
hydro: NA%
other: NA%
nuclear: NA%
Electricity - consumption:
13.93 trillion kWh (2001 est.)
Oil - production:
75.46 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
76.21 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
1.025 trillion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
2.569 trillion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
2.556 trillion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
703.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
697.5 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
161.2 trillion cu m (37257)
$6.6 trillion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Exports - partners:
US 17.4%, Germany 7.6%, UK 5.4%, France 5.1%, Japan 4.8%, China 4% (2002)
$6.6 trillion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Imports - partners:
US 11.2%, Germany 9.2%, China 7%, Japan 6.8%, France 4.7%, UK 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$2 trillion for less developed countries (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
official development assistance (ODA) $50 billion
Communications World
Telephones - main lines in use:
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: NA
Radio broadcast stations:
AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA
Television broadcast stations:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
10,350 (2000 est.)
Internet users:
604,111,719 (2002 est.)
Transportation World
total: 1,122,650 km includes about 190,000 to 195,000 km of electrified routes of which 147,760 km are in Europe, 24,509 km in the Far East, 11,050 km in Africa, 4,223 km in South America, and 4,160 km in North America; note - fastest speed in daily service is 300 km/hr attained by France's Societe Nationale des Chemins-de-Fer Francais (SNCF) Le Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) - Atlantique line
broad gauge: 251,153 km
narrow gauge: 239,430 km
standard gauge: 710,754 km
total: NA km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km
Ports and harbors:
Chiba, Houston, Kawasaki, Kobe, Marseille, Mina' al Ahmadi (Kuwait), New Orleans, New York, Rotterdam, Yokohama
Military World
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
aggregate real expenditure on arms worldwide in 1999 remained at approximately the 1998 level, about three-quarters of a trillion dollars (1999 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
roughly 2% of gross world product (1999 est.)
Transnational Issues World
Disputes - international:
Globally, there are over 250,000 km of international land boundaries that separate the world's 192 independent states, along with 70 dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, and other miscellaneous entities. Maritime states have claimed limits and have so far established over 130 maritime boundaries and joint development zones to allocate ocean resources and to provide for their national security at sea. On land, ethnicity, culture, race, religion, and language have divided states into separate political entities as much as history, physical terrain, political fiat, or conquest, resulting in sometimes arbitrary and imposed boundaries. All of these factors have contributed to a wide array of boundary, borderland, and territorial disagreements that vary in intensity from unresolved or dormant to outright war. Territorial disputes may evolve from historical and/or cultural animosities, or they may be brought on by resource competition. Ethnic clashes continue to be responsible for territorial fragmentation around the world. Undemarcated, indefinite, porous, and unmanaged boundaries encourage illegal cross-border activities, uncontrolled migration, and political confrontation over boundary allocations. Other sources of contention include the use of water and mineral (especially petroleum) resources, fisheries, dams, and nuclear power plants. Many islands or island groups are also disputed, including those at sea and in streams. Nonetheless, many nations are actively cooperating to clarify, delineate, and demarcate their international borders. The tragic aspect of international discord is the impact on the sustenance and welfare of populations caught in the conflict. It is frequently left to members of the world community to cope with enormous refugee situations, and the resultant hunger, disease, and impoverishment that they create.
Illicit drugs:
cocaine: worldwide, coca is grown on an estimated 205,450 hectares - almost exclusively in South America with 70% in Colombia; potential cocaine production during 2002 is estimated at 938 metric tons (or 1,200 metric tons of export quality cocaine at an average of 78% purity); coca eradication programs continue in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, and 292 metric tons of export quality cocaine are documented to have been seized in 2002; consumption of export quality cocaine is estimated to have been 875 metric tons
opiates: cultivation of opium poppy occurred on an estimated 141,213 hectares in 2002 and potentially produced 2,183 metric tons of opium - which conceivably could be converted to the equivalent of 238 metric tons of pure heroin; opium eradication programs have been undertaken in Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the annual average for opiates seized worldwide over the past five years (1998-2002) has been 45 metric tons of pure heroin equivalent; estimates for average annual consumption over this time period are 315 metric tons pure heroin equivalent