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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
6,233,821,945 (July 2002 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) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.23% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
21.16 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
8.93 deaths/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
51.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.94 years
female: 65.67 years (2002 est.)
male: 62.28 years
Total fertility rate:
2.7 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Christians 32.88% (of which Roman Catholics 17.39%, Protestants 5.62%, Orthodox 3.54%, Anglicans 1.31%), Muslims 19.54%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.92%, Sikhs 0.38%, Jews 0.24%, other religions 12.6%, non-religious 12.63%, atheists 2.47% (2000 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. The causes: slowdowns in the US economy (21% of GWP) and in the 15 EU economies (20% of GWP); continued stagnation in the Japanese economy (7.3% 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 7.3% but estimated by many observers as perhaps two percentage points lower. Russia (2.6% of GWP), with 5.2% 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 were strong performers, in the 5% range of growth. The developing nations also varied in their growth results, with many countries facing population increases that eat up 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. 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. (For specific economic developments in each country of the world in 2001, see the individual country entries.)
GWP (gross world product) - purchasing power parity - $47 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 32%
services: 64% (2001 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 (2001 est.); 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 (2001 est.)
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:
6% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
hydro: NA%
nuclear: NA%
other: NA%
$6.3 trillion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Exports - partners:
in value, about 75% of exports from the developed countries
$6.3 trillion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Imports - partners:
in value, about 75% of imports into the developed countries
Debt - external:
$2 trillion for less developed countries (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
official development assistance (ODA) $50 billion (2001 est.)
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:
580.78 million (2002 est.)
Transportation World
total: 1,201,337 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.)

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003