Global Political, Economic, and Social Facts

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
From the UN's Human Development Report 2007/2008
  • In 2008, 34 journalists died in the line of duty. That's down from the 65 killed In 2007.
  • In 103 countries the proportion of women in parliament increased between 1995 and 2008, but around the world it still averages just 18.4%.
  • As of 2007, only 28 countries, representing 13% of the world's population, are fully democratic. 54 countries, representing 38.3% of the world's population are flawed democracies; 30 are hybrid regimes; and 55, or 38.2% of the world's population, are authoritarian regimes.
  • Between 1970 and 2005 the under-5 mortality rate worldwide fell from 96 to 76 per 1,000 live births.
  • Multiparty elections are now held in 140 of the world's 195 countries.
  • Coups overthrew 46 elected governments in the second half of the twentieth century.
  • The proportion of the world's extremely poor fell from 29% in 1990 to 23% in 1999.
  • In 2006, 2.6 billion people, or 40% of the world's population, lived on less than $2 a day, with 1 billion of them surviving on the margins of subsistence with less than $1 a day.
  • In 2006, 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe water, and 2.6 billion did not have access to any form of improved sanitation services.
  • Just 125 countries, with 62% of the world's population, have a free or partly free press.
  • Of the world's estimated 854 million illiterate adults, 544 million are women.
  • Armed conflict continues to blight the lives of millions: since 1990, 3.6 million people have died as a result of civil wars and ethnic violence, more than 16 times the number killed in wars between states.
  • Civilians have accounted for more than 90% of the casualties-either injured or killed-in post-cold war conflicts.
  • Ninety countries are affected by landmines and unexploded ordinance, with rough estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 mine victims each year.
  • Greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are accruing at a record rate. In 2007, there were 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years.
  • The United States has a carbon footprint five times that of China, and over 15 times that of India.
  • The 23 million residents of the US state of Texas emit more carbon dioxide than the entire population of sub-Saharan Africa, which is 720 million people.
Additional sources: Committee to Protect Journalists, The Inter-parliamentary Union, UNICEF
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