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Monday, August 4, 2008

Pocket World in Figures

Economist, "Pocket World in Figures"
Economist Books | 2006-09-07 | ISBN:1861978251 | 240 pages| PDF | 1,1 Mb
On a regular basis, the Economist, one of the most respected news periodicals in the world, publishes this handy guide of facts and figures. This covers many of the 'vital statistics' of nations, multinational and non-governmental international organisations, and key political and economic topics worldwide, all compiled by the world-class Economist Intelligence Unit, who regularly publish reports for government and business leaders all over the world.
The first section of the book is on World Rankings. This covers important areas in geography, population, urban density, economics and living standards, financial and monetary issues, agriculture, business, transport, education levels, health and over social topics. You can find out here which country has the largest percentage of farmers (it isn't Hong Kong or Singapore), which country has the largest outstanding debt (think big -- big countries have big debts), and even which countries have the highest percentages of beer and wine drinkers, smokers, and music lovers (so you'll know where to party).
The second section of the book has an alphabetical listing of the countries of the world, with all of their vital stats spread across two pages -- demographics, economic stats, financial and trade data, exchange rates (generally), capital, geographic data, and more. The really suprising thing in this listing is that nowhere does it give the principle language of the country -- given the comprehensive nature of the data, one would think that a line or two regarding languages spoken would be a natural piece of data to include.
Also, this is not a complete listing of nations -- this includes only major nations, with a Eurocentric tilt. None of the Central American countries are included; there is a definite lack in Caribbean, African, and Asian countries also. However, to include all the nations would make this a jumbo-sized book, not a pocket guide. As it is, they have been selective, and while one might quibble with some of their choices, it is still a very handy and authoritative guide.

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