By: Charles Bowen
You’re writing a story about television and you wonder who are the most square-eyed folks in the world. Would you believe in terms of television sets per capita, the United States is no higher than fourth in the world? The U.S. is behind Monaco, Bermuda, and Christmas Island.
Or you’re writing about longevity and wonder where in the world people live the longest. (The answer is Andorra, averaging 83.4 years, followed by Macau, San Marino, and Japan. The United States, incidentally, is 42nd on the list of nations, at 77.4 years.)
Or perhaps you’re writing about charities and you’d like to add some global perspective to the story. Would you be surprised to learn that Luxembourg is the world’s most generous nation, each year averaging more than $350 a person in charitable contributions, followed by Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland? On that list, the United States is 20th, averaging just under $25 per person per year.
Such statistical snapshots can enliven many kinds of stories and a new Web site called Nation Master makes it quick and easy to dig up the data. The site has more than 300 statistical data sets, ranging from library books, forested land, Internet users, and airports. For easy reference, the home page features the most frequently requested stats, such as taxes and military expenditures per capita.
The site also lets you create your own graphs in order to effectively compare different nations and has links to national profiles, which include the available statistics for each country, and images of the country’s flag, and a political map. In addition, there is a search engine, and a place where visitors can read short facts on the different countries. Apart from being interesting to browse through, the site will be helpful for students looking for basic statistics on the world’s different countries.
To check it out, visit http://www.nationmaster.com, where a nicely organized introductory page provides a navigation bar along the left column with quick links to its top graphics, including fastest growing, richest, most militaristic, most populous, most generous, most taxed, most in debt, poorest, longest living, largest, youngest, most murderous, most educated, and so on. Below those are links to the site’s main categories, which include crime, economy, education, energy, environment, geography, government, health, media, military, people, religion, sports, and transportation.
Click on any category for a list of subtopics. For instance, select “Health” and the site provides links to more than a dozen subjects, from abortions to HIV/AIDS, from infant mortality to measles immunization.
The basic material of the site is its lists, countries listed 1 through 100 on their incidence rates on the topic you’ve selected, along with a brief description (such as “35.6%, 2002 est.”) and a bar graph. Also, each country’s name in the list is linked. Click on it to see a statistical overview of that specific nation in terms of that specific category, such as health.
Other considerations for using NationMaster in your writing and editing:
1. The center section of the site’s main page is news of recent additions to the site. For instance, at this writing, the site reported the addition of nearly 100 new statistical sets, including names of refugees in various countries, divorce rates, tourism, rainfall, Olympic medals, and automobiles.
2. The site also has a free monthly e-mail newsletter. Scroll the introductory page to find the green data-entry box at the bottom of the center panel.
3. The site also enables you to create your own on-screen graphs. At the center top section of the home page is a panel that invites you to select a country or region, a range for comparison (top 100, bottom 5, etc.) and categories. Just make your selections, then click on the “Generate Stat” button.
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