Top banner
The World Factbook Banner

Categories Banner
 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Map of World

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    World Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Globally, the 20th century was marked by: (a) two devastating world wars; (b) the Great Depression of the 1930s; (c) the end of vast colonial empires; (d) rapid advances in science and technology, from the first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (US) to the landing on the moon; (e) the Cold War between the Western alliance and the Warsaw Pact nations; (f) a sharp rise in living standards in North America, Europe, and Japan; (g) increased concerns about the environment, including loss of forests, shortages of energy and water, the decline in biological diversity, and air pollution; (h) the onset of the AIDS epidemic; and (i) the ultimate emergence of the US as the only world superpower. The planet's population continues to explode: from 1 billion in 1820, to 2 billion in 1930, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1988, and 6 billion in 2000. For the 21st century, the continued exponential growth in science and technology raises both hopes (e.g., advances in medicine) and fears (e.g., development of even more lethal weapons of war).
   Geography    World Top of Page
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Physical Map of the World, Political Map of the World, Standard Time Zones of the World
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 510.072 million sq km
land: 148.94 million sq km
water: 361.132 million sq km
note: 70.8% of the world's surface is water, 29.2% is land
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
land area about 16 times the size of the US
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
the land boundaries in the world total 250,708 km (not counting shared boundaries twice); two nations, China and Russia, each border 14 other countries
note: 44 nations and other areas are landlocked, these include: Afghanistan, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Holy See (Vatican City), Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Paraguay, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, West Bank, Zambia, Zimbabwe; two of these, Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan, are doubly landlocked
Definition Field Listing
356,000 km
note: 98 nations and other entities are islands that border no other countries, they include: American Samoa, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Baker Island, Barbados, Bassas da India, Bermuda, Bouvet Island, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Christmas Island, Clipperton Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Comoros, Cook Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominica, Europa Island, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Greenland, Grenada, Guam, Guernsey, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Howland Island, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jan Mayen, Japan, Jarvis Island, Jersey, Johnston Atoll, Juan de Nova Island, Kingman Reef, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Federated States of Micronesia, Midway Islands, Montserrat, Nauru, Navassa Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Palmyra Atoll, Paracel Islands, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Spratly Islands, Sri Lanka, Svalbard, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tromelin Island, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Virgin Islands, Wake Island, Wallis and Futuna, Taiwan
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
a variety of situations exist, but in general, most countries make the following claims measured from the mean low-tide baseline as described in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: territorial sea - 12 nm, contiguous zone - 24 nm, and exclusive economic zone - 200 nm; additional zones provide for exploitation of continental shelf resources and an exclusive fishing zone; boundary situations with neighboring states prevent many countries from extending their fishing or economic zones to a full 200nm
Definition Field Listing
a wide equatorial band of hot and humid tropical climates - bordered north and south by subtropical temperate zones - that separate two large areas of cold and dry polar climates
Definition Field Listing
the greatest ocean depth is the Mariana Trench at 10,924 m in the Pacific Ocean
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Bentley Subglacial Trench -2,540 m
note: in the oceanic realm, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is the lowest point, lying -10,924 m below the surface of the Pacific Ocean
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
the rapid depletion of nonrenewable mineral resources, the depletion of forest areas and wetlands, the extinction of animal and plant species, and the deterioration in air and water quality (especially in Eastern Europe, the former USSR, and China) pose serious long-term problems that governments and peoples are only beginning to address
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 13.31%
permanent crops: 4.71%
other: 81.98% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
2,770,980 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
large areas subject to severe weather (tropical cyclones), natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions)
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
large areas subject to overpopulation, industrial disasters, pollution (air, water, acid rain, toxic substances), loss of vegetation (overgrazing, deforestation, desertification), loss of wildlife, soil degradation, soil depletion, erosion
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
the world is now thought to be about 4.55 billion years old, just about one-third of the 13-billion-year age estimated for the universe
   People    World Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6,525,170,264 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 27.4% (male 919,219,446/female 870,242,271)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 2,152,066,888/female 2,100,334,722)
65 years and over: 7.4% (male 213,160,216/female 270,146,721)
note: some countries do not maintain age structure information, thus a slight discrepancy exists between the total world population and the total for world age structure (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 27.6 years
male: 27 years
female: 28.2 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.14% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20.05 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.67 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 48.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 50.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 64.77 years
male: 63.16 years
female: 66.47 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.59 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
Definition Field Listing
Christians 33.03% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.8%, Orthodox 3.42%, Anglicans 1.23%), Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.61%, non-religious 12.03%, atheists 2.36% (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
Mandarin Chinese 13.69%, Spanish 5.05%, English 4.84%, Hindi 2.82%, Portuguese 2.77%, Bengali 2.68%, Russian 2.27%, Japanese 1.99%, Standard German 1.49%, Wu Chinese 1.21% (2004 est.)
note: percents are for "first language" speakers only
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82%
male: 87%
female: 77%
note: over two-thirds of the world's 785 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Egypt); of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions, South and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Arab states, where around one-third of the men and half of all women are illiterate (2005 est.)
   Government    World Top of Page
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
272 nations, dependent areas, and other entities
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
all members of the UN are parties to the statute that established the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or World Court
   Economy    World Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Global output rose by 4.4% in 2005, led by China (9.3%), India (7.6%), and Russia (5.9%). The other 14 successor nations of the USSR and the other old Warsaw Pact nations again experienced widely divergent growth rates; the three Baltic nations continued as strong performers, in the 7% range of growth. Growth results posted by the major industrial countries varied from no gain for Italy to a strong gain by the United States (3.5%). The developing nations also varied in their growth results, with many countries facing population increases that erode gains in output. Externally, the nation-state, as a bedrock economic-political institution, is steadily losing control over international flows of people, goods, funds, and technology. Internally, the central government often finds its control over resources slipping as separatist regional movements - typically based on ethnicity - gain momentum, e.g., in many of the successor states of the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia, in India, in Iraq, in Indonesia, and in Canada. Externally, the central government is losing decisionmaking powers to international bodies, notably the EU. In Western Europe, governments face the difficult political problem of channeling resources away from welfare programs in order to increase investment and strengthen incentives to seek employment. The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of pollution, desertification, underemployment, epidemics, and famine. Because of their own internal problems and priorities, the industrialized countries devote insufficient resources to deal effectively with the poorer areas of the world, which, at least from an economic point of view, are becoming further marginalized. The introduction of the euro as the common currency of much of Western Europe in January 1999, while paving the way for an integrated economic powerhouse, poses economic risks because of varying levels of income and cultural and political differences among the participating nations. The terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 accentuated a further growing risk to global prosperity, illustrated, for example, by the reallocation of resources away from investment to anti-terrorist programs. The opening of war in March 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq added new uncertainties to global economic prospects. After the coalition victory, the complex political difficulties and the high economic cost of establishing domestic order in Iraq became major global problems that continued into 2006.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
GWP (gross world product): $65 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$46.66 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.1% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$10,000 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 4%
industry: 32%
services: 64% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.001 billion (2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 41%
industry: 20.7%
services: 38.4% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
30% combined unemployment and underemployment in many non-industrialized countries; developed countries typically 4%-12% unemployment
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 29.9% (2002 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
developed countries 1% to 4% typically; developing countries 5% to 20% typically; national inflation rates vary widely in individual cases, from declining prices in Japan to hyperinflation in one Third World countries (Zimbabwe); inflation rates have declined for most countries for the last several years, held in check by increasing international competition from several low wage countries (2005 est.)
Definition Field Listing
dominated by the onrush of technology, especially in computers, robotics, telecommunications, and medicines and medical equipment; most of these advances take place in OECD nations; only a small portion of non-OECD countries have succeeded in rapidly adjusting to these technological forces; the accelerated development of new industrial (and agricultural) technology is complicating already grim environmental problems
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.15 trillion kWh (2004 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16.18 trillion kWh (2004 est.)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
562.2 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
568.5 billion kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
83 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
82.59 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.326 trillion bbl (1 January 2002 est.)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.824 trillion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.82 trillion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
810.9 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
828 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
172.2 trillion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$12.45 trillion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 15.6%, Germany 7.4%, China 5.7%, France 4.9%, UK 4.7%, Japan 4.5% (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$12.08 trillion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
the whole range of industrial and agricultural goods and services
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 9.3%, Germany 9%, US 9%, Japan 6.1%, France 4.2% (2005)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$44.62 trillion
note: this figure is the sum total of all countries' external debt, both public and private (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$154 billion official development assistance (ODA) (2004)
   Communications    World Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,263,367,600 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,168,433,600 (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: NA
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,018,057,389 (2005)
   Transportation    World Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
49,024 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
2,021 (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 1,115,205 km
broad gauge: 257,481 km
standard gauge: 671,413 km
narrow gauge: 186,311 km (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 32,345,165 km
paved: 19,403,061 km
unpaved: 12,942,104 km (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
671,886 km (2004)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 33,222 ships (1000 GRT or over) (2006)
   Military    World Top of Page
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
roughly 2% of gross world product (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    World Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
stretching over 250,000 km, the world's 329 international land boundaries separate the 193 independent states and 73 dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, and other miscellaneous entities; ethnicity, culture, race, religion, and language have divided states into separate political entities as much as history, physical terrain, political fiat, or conquest, resulting in sometimes arbitrary and imposed boundaries; maritime states have claimed limits and have so far established over 130 maritime boundaries and joint development zones to allocate ocean resources and to provide for national security at sea; boundary, borderland/resource, and territorial disputes vary in intensity from managed or dormant to violent or militarized; most disputes over the alignment of political boundaries are confined to short segments and are today less common and less hostile than borderland, resource, and territorial disputes; undemarcated, indefinite, porous, and unmanaged boundaries, however, encourage illegal cross-border activities, uncontrolled migration, and confrontation; territorial disputes may evolve from historical and/or cultural claims, or they may be brought on by resource competition; ethnic and cultural clashes continue to be responsible for much of the territorial fragmentation around the world; disputes over islands at sea or in rivers frequently form the source of territorial and boundary conflict; other sources of contention include access to water and mineral (especially petroleum) resources, fisheries, and arable land; nonetheless, most nations cooperate to clarify their international boundaries and to resolve territorial and resource disputes peacefully; regional discord today prevails not so much between the armed forces of independent states as between stateless armed entities that detract from the sustenance and welfare of local populations, leaving the community of nations to cope with resultant refugees, hunger, disease, impoverishment, and environmental degradation
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that in December 2004 there was a global population of 9.2 million refugees, the lowest number in 25 years, and as many as 25 million IDPs in over 49 countries (2005)
Trafficking in persons:
Definition Field Listing
current situation: about 600,000 to 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked annually across national borders, not including millions trafficked within their own countries; at least 80% of the victims are female; 75% of all victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation; roughly two-thirds of the global victims are trafficked intra-regionally within East Asia and the Pacific (260,000 to 280,000 people) and Europe and Eurasia (170,000 to 210,000 people)
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
cocaine: worldwide coca cultivation in 2004 amounted to 166,200 hectares; Colombia produced slightly more than two-thirds of the worldwide crop, followed by Peru and Bolivia; potential pure cocaine production of 645 metric tons in 2004 marked the lowest level of Andean cocaine production in the past 10 years; Colombia conducts aggressive coca eradication campaign, but both Peruvian and Bolivian Governments are hesitant to eradicate coca in key growing areas; 376 metric tons of export-quality cocaine are documented to have been seized in 2003, and 26 metric tons disrupted (jettisoned or destroyed); consumption of export quality cocaine is estimated to have been 800 metric tons
opiates: worldwide illicit opium poppy cultivation reached 258,630 hectares in 2004; potential opium production of 5,444 metric tons was highest total recorded since estimates began in mid-1980s; Afghanistan is world's primary opium producer, accounting for 91% of the global supply; Southeast Asia - responsible for 7% of global opium - continued to diminish in importance in the world opium market; Latin America produced 2% of global opium, but most refined into heroin destined for United States; if all opium processed into pure heroin, the potential global production would be 632 metric tons of heroin in 2004

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Bottom Banner