UN says Iceland the Best Place to Live

Last Revised on November 27, 2007

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Every year, the United Nations ranks its 175 members plus Hong Kong and the Palestinian territories using an index of human development — mainly life expectancy, literacy rates and income. The United Nations has published its human development index every year since 1990. It does not include 17 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, because of inadequate data. According to its recent publication, Iceland is the most desirable country to live in while AIDS-afflicted sub-Saharan African nations were considered the least desirable ones.

Norway had held top spot for six years but was edged into second place by Iceland this year because of new life expectancy estimates and updated figures for gross domestic product, or GDP, the report said.

The United States scores high on real per capita GDP, which at $41,890 is second only to that of Luxembourg ($60,228), but less well on life expectancy — joint last in the top 26 countries, along with Denmark and South Korea, at 77.9 years.

India has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to get anywhere close to China in terms of human development, though the two countries are often compared in terms of their economic strengths. China ranks 81.

Japanese have the longest life expectancy — 82.3 years — and Zambians the lowest, at 40.5. The report said most countries had seen their human development index rise over the last 30 years, but in 16 it was lower than in 1990, and in three — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe — lower than in 1975.

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