Canada Best Place to Live
NATIONS (Reuters) - Canada, for the seventh consecutive year, ranks as the best
place to live in the world. But if you are a woman, you are better off in
Scandinavia, says the UN Human Development Report 2000, released on Thursday.
is in second place in overall rankings, followed by the United States,
Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan and Britain. Finland
is in 11th place, followed by France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Austria,
Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand.
the other end of the scale, the 10 least-developed countries that provide the
fewest services to their people, from the bottom up are: war-devastated Sierra
Leone, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Chad,
Central African Republic and Mali. This year's survey by the UN Development
Programme, like its 10 predecessors, ranks 174 nations according to income,
health care, life expectancy and educational levels.
addition to the ratings, the report this year looks at the relationship between
human rights and development and proposes policies to promote and respect
statistical rankings have gained such exposure in the past decade that the
Canadian province of Ontario is using them in its television commercials to
attract business, advertising itself as the best place to live in the world.
the report cautioned Ontario, Canada's richest and most populous province,
against complacency. It noted that the provincial government was also using the
report to justify its full funding for Roman Catholic schools but not for those
of any other religious group. ``Canada's high scores in adult literacy and
school and college enrollment do not disprove religious discrimination in access
to public education--and in no way waive the need for Ontario to remedy the
situation,'' the report said.
income alone, the report says, did not automatically mean better educational or
health services. Guinea, Pakistan and Vietnam, for example, have similar levels
of per capita income, but their placing in the index shows otherwise. Guinea
ranks 162nd, Pakistan 135th and Vietnam 108th, an indication Hanoi spends more
on primary health care to bring down infant mortality rates.
progress for women is measured, Canada slips into eighth place and the United
States ranks 13th in the so-called ''gender empowerment index'' that measures
the number of women in parliament, government, professional or technical jobs
and their average earnings compared to men.
20 top countries in this category are Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland,
Germany, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Australia, Austria, United
States, Switzerland, Britain, Bahamas, Barbados, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela.
No statistics were available for France.
whose high standard of living and widespread education put it in 9th place in
the overall rankings, was 41st on the gender equality index, below that of Costa
Rica, in 24th place. Likewise, South Korea, which ranked 31st in the overall
index, fell to 63rd in the women's equality standings. Greece showed a similar
discrepancy from 25th place overall to 49th place when advancement for women was
measured. In Latin America, Chile with an overall ranking of 38th, fell to 51st
on the women's equality measurement.
the richest nations, the report shows relative prosperity is also accompanied by
pockets of poverty. While the United States has the world's highest gross
national product, it ranks first in poverty rates among the 18 richest
countries. Ireland is in second place and Britain in third. The main reason was
the prevalence of functional illiteracy--about one person in five--the report
report said 22 countries in Africa and Eastern Europe experienced major
reversals in health care and other social services, largely because of the
impact of AIDS in southern and eastern Africa and economic stagnation in the
former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, a coordinator of the report, said governments should study the index for progress achieved year to year, especially for the most deprived, rather than the absolute rankings. ``Look at the Human Development Index to see where your country stands--and then look again, and again,'' she said.