Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, Nov. 9, 2006
Norway, Iceland, Australia, Ireland and Sweden rank as the best five countries to live in but Africa’s quality of life has plummeted because of AIDS, said a U.N. report released on Thursday.
The United States was ranked in eighth place, after Canada and Japan, in the report that rates not only per-capita income but also educational levels, health care and life expectancy in measuring a nation’s well-being.
People in Norway, for example, are 40 times wealthier than people in Niger, which ranks 177th, the lowest ranking country on the list. For the 31 countries with low human development, life expectancy is only 46 years — some 32 years less than in rich nations, the report said.
But some nations have a rank above their income. Vietnam for example is poor but ranks above countries with a higher per capita income. Conversely Bahrain has an average income twice the level of Chile but ranks lower because it “under-performs on education and literacy”, the report said.
However, since 1990, sub-Sahara Africa has stagnated, in part because of economic decline but mainly because of the “catastrophic effect of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy,” the report said.
The list of 177 nations ends with Niger. Above it are Sierra Leone, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, the Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Burundi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which ranked 167th.