United Nations: The going only seems to get
better in Norway which was on Thursday named by the United Nations
as the country with the best quality of life for a record-
matching eighth time.
The UN`s annual A-to-Z of global wealth, poverty, health
and education highlighted in its 20th anniversary edition
though that despite "growth surges" in the Asia-Pacific
region, it is becoming ever more difficult to break into the
rich club of nations.
Oil-rich Norway -- with its 81 years of life expectancy,
average annual income of USD 58,810 and 12.6 years of
schooling -- has now topped the Human Development Index (HDI)
for all but two years since 2001.
It is not the best in any individual category -- average
income in Liechtenstein for example is a wallet-busting USD
81,011 -- but Norway`s all-round performance gave it a
crushing superiority in the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Ireland
took the following places in the top five. Zimbabwe came
bottom of the 169 nations ranked, behind Mozambique, Burundi,
Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwe, where in stark contrast life expectancy is just
47 years and per capita income USD 176, has come bottom of the
table for the past five years.
DR Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe have seen their HDI value
fall below 1970 levels in the four decades since, said the
"These countries offer lessons on the devastating impact
of conflict, the AIDS epidemic and economic and political
mismanagement," said UNDP administrator Helen Clarke, the
former New Zealand prime minister.
The study aims to give a broader assessment of quality of
life than just income -- by including, health, education,
gender equality and political freedom -- and its lead writer
Jeni Klugman said most of the world has seen "dramatic
progress" since 1970.
Average life expectancy rose from 59 to 70 years, primary
school enrolment grew from 55 to 70 per cent, and per capita
incomes doubled to more than USD 10,000. Many of the poorest
countries achieved some of the greatest gains, she said.