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The Geography Sited
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The Global Village : State of the Village

The world is a big place - really big. In fact, it's so big that it becomes hard to make sense of some of the figures and statistics that go with it. For most of us, numbers like 18,000,000 or 180,000,000 have little real meaning. We know they are large, but we can't imagine them as quantities the way we can with 6 apples, 2 tins etc.

This makes an understanding of world population statistics very difficult for most of us. An excellent way to overcome the problem is to use smaller values that we can mentally visualise.


In 1990, Donella H. Meadows published the original 'State of the Village Report'. It took the current world statistics and reproduced them as they would appear in a village of just 100 people. The village of 100 people reflects all the variations of the real world, but in values we can understand. So, with updates based on data for 2005, if the world was a village of 100 people, it would look like this...


Ethnic Origins
60 Asians
14 Africans
12 Europeans
8 Central and South America, Mexico and Caribbean
5 Canada and USA
1 New Zealand and Australia


Languages Spoken
14 Mandarin
8 Hindi / Urdu
8 English
7 Spanish
4 Russian
4 Arabic


33 Christians
22 Moslems
15 Hindus
14 Non-religious, Agnostics and Atheists
6 Buddhists
10 All other religions



The villagers ...
51 / 49 51 would be male, 49 would be female
67 would be adults, half of whom cannot read or write.
16 would be children who have been immunized against the preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.
1 would have HIV but probably not yet have developed a full-blown case of AIDS.
82 would be non-white; 18 white
2 would be new born babies
1 would be near death
11 adult women will have, at some time, been beaten, abused, or forced to have sex against their will.
2 would have tried, or be using cannabis
1 would have a college education

And in the village ...
80 would live in housing you'd not consider to be fit for habitation
39 would lack access to improved sanitation
18 people are overweight
50 wouldn't have enough to eat and would be suffering from malnutrition and 1 would be dying of starvation
33 don't have access to safe water
24 would not have access to electricity
Of the 76 people who do have access to electricity, most only use it to provide light at night.
There would be 42 radios, 24 televisions,14 telephones and 7 computers
7 people would own a car or van of some sort
7 people would have access to the Internet
5 people would own 32% of the entire wealth of the village (and they all came from the USA)
33 people would be trying to survive on just 3% of the entire wealth of the village
83% of the fertilizer would be used on just 40% of the crop land - the land owned by the richest 27 people. The remaining 60% of the land would produce 28% of the grain and have to feed 73 of the people
1 person would have control of enough nuclear weapons to vaporise the village may times over



The following thoughts are well worth knowing, and make good assembly / class discussion starters ...

If you woke up this morning healthy ... remember that you are much better off than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the fear and loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture,
or the pain of starvation ... you are better off than 500 million people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ...
you are more comfortable than 75% of the people in this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, spare change in a drawer, a pocket or somewhere ...
you are among the top 8% of the world's most wealthy people.

If you can read this, remember that there are over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

If you have your own PC at home, you own something that costs more than an average person earns in an entire year in Somalia or Sierra Leone.

If you are 15 and you live in the UK, you can expect to live to about 77 if you are a boy, or 81 if you are a girl. In the USA you'd expect to live to 75(b) and 80(g), but if you are born in Botswana, you are already half way through your expected time on earth! On average you wouldn't live to see your 31st birthday in Botswana. If you were lucky enough to be born in Andorra though, you will probably live to be 83.



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