10 Facts About Living Conditions in Guyana
Guyana is located in the northeastern corner of South America. After gaining independence from the British in 1966, it has struggled economically and politically, but the recent find of over five billion barrels worth of oil should bring in vast amounts of money. These 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana go to show the great potential the country has to improve its population’s quality of life.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Guyana

  1. Poverty: Unfortunately, Guyana is very poor as over a third of its population lives in poverty. Along with this, Guyana ranks 164 out of 228 nations in human development.
  2. Political Parties are Ethnically Based: There are multiple ethnic groups in Guyana. Forty percent of Guyana’s population is South Asian and are descendants of those brought over for indentured servitude. Meanwhile, about 30 percent are Afro-Guyanese (Guyanese of African descent) are the descendants of ancestors who went to Guyana to work the plantations. Additionally, 20 percent have mixed heritage and 10 percent are indigenous. These differing ethnicities have led to the formation of a number of political parties. There are three main political parties including the People’s National Congress, the People’s Progressive Party, the Alliance for Change and several smaller political parties. These parties include the different ethnicities present in the country, which has led to issues. Some people feel that President David Granger favors his own ethnicity.
  3. Political Tensions: An example of Granger favoring his own ethnicity over others is when he cut subsidies for the sugar industry while making no cuts against the government bureaucracy. This is problematic because a majority of the government is Afro-Guyanese, Granger’s ethnicity, whereas most people who work on sugar plantations are Indo-Guyanese. Although there have been some ethnic-related tensions, Granger has made improvements. An effort to lower the rate of AIDs, which has become an issue for all in recent years, shows this. Since 2010, the rate of AIDS and HIV has increased by over 10 percent.
  4. Emigration: An important point among these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that there is a significant amount of emigration that takes place each year. In 2013, over 7,000 people emigrated. A study also determined that 40 percent of people in Guyana would emigrate if they could. Motivators to leave the country might be a lack of political support and job opportunities. In order to combat this President Granger has raised funds to improve the national public university and increased teachers’ salaries.
  5. Human Resource Drain: Many people leave Guyana because of a lack of jobs. The current unemployment rate in the world is around 5 percent, whereas, in 2017, Guyana’s unemployment rate was 12 percent. Many young Guyanese people are moving to large cities such as New York to secure work. Even though the jobs they get might be low paying, stressful and below their educational levels, having a job that pays is better than not having employment. People who come to work in big cities often send money back to their families in Guyana. All of this emigration leads to the country having a reduced number of human resources. Many of the people who leave have skills and are professional. In fact, 80 percent of students from the University of Guyana leave the country statistically.
  6. Improving Education: Many qualified individuals are leaving the country. A focus on improving youth education has occurred to combat the loss of educated people. An example of this is a partnership between the NGO Family Awareness Consciousness & Togetherness with the U.S. Government that aims to support youth education. The NGO has received a grant of $64,800, which will provide after-school activities, lessons and homework based around arts, sports and life skills. This program is for 80 children between the ages of 10 and 18 in the town of Corriverton, Guyana. Eventually, the NGO hopes to spread these after-school activities to the surrounding communities.
  7. Newfound Money and Potential Issues: The mass amounts of money from oil could present some issues because of the current political tensions. Troy Thomas, the head of global anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, stated that “corruption is rampant.” An example of the corruption that Thomas speaks of was in December 2018 when the governing coalition lost a no-confidence vote, yet disregarded the results. It responded by challenging the vote in courts, which resulted in the occurrence of protests. On September 20, 2019, hundreds of People’s Progressive Party Civic supporters and members protested outside of a hotel where President Garner was to deliver a speech to the business community, who were mainly his ethnicity, Afro-Guyanese. Members and supporters of the People’s Progressive Party Civic feel Granger will use the newfound money from oil to only help the Afro-Guyanese.
  8. Oil to Help the Economy: Among the 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that the country’s newfound oil should greatly improve the economy. Predictions determine that the overall economy should grow by 86 percent by 2020. This is 14 times more than China’s predicted rate. Along with this, according to the International Monetary Fund, the oil revenues should reach $631 million by the year 2024.
  9. Guyana and Greener Practices: Guyana has made a commitment to the Green State Development Strategy. This is a long-term plan that will use the money from oil to improve the lives of all ethnicities within Guyana. To achieve this goal, Guyana hopes to create quality education, social protection and low carbon development that is resilient. These things will lead to new economic possibilities. This strategy calls for using the country’s investments to implement more environmentally friendly practices. Guyana will focus on how this change affects agriculture, forestry, energy and road transport infrastructure. By 2040, Guyana wants to transition to nearly 100 percent renewable and clean energy sources for generating electricity. Another main aim of this strategy is to provide all people with necessities, including safe and affordable housing, water, sanitation facilities and electricity.
  10. The Green State Development Strategy to Create Jobs Through Tourism: A focus of the Green State Development Strategy is to lessen poverty through things such as creating more jobs. A way that this strategy hopes to create jobs is through tourism. In 2018 alone, tourism led to the creation of 22,000 jobs. The Guyana Tourism Authority stated that tourism is the country’s second-largest export sector, bringing in nearly $30 million to the economy in 2018. The Ministry of Business in Guyana predicts that tourism and travel will make up nearly 8 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019.

When it comes to these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana, the country has faced political and economic issues, but this has the potential to change soon. After finding over five billion barrels worth of oil off the coast, Guyana’s potential for economic growth skyrocketed. Predications state that Guyana’s GDP should triple within the next five years.

This new influx of money will allow Guyana to improve the lives of all ethnicities within the country. Guyana should be able to achieve this by investing money into education, job creation, natural resources and tourism while using greener practices.

– James Turner
Photo: Flickr

Garbage CommunitiesGarbage: the word brings to mind unpleasant smells, flies and filth. But to some, it is home. Garbage communities consist of individuals making a living from and living within the confines of literal garbage dumps. For some people living in extreme poverty, the scrap cash that recycling garbage brings and the free space for building simple homes is the only option. And it isn’t an isolated, rare way of life. Nearly 15 million people across the globe live and “work” in garbage communities.

Making a Living

Members of garbage communities spend each day rummaging through the trash, hoping to find something decent enough to recycle. Once they find something — say a can or bottle — they collect these pieces and bring them to a middleman called an “agent”. The agent, (oftentimes a gang leader or crime lord) then sells the goods for much more, sucking up a large portion of the collector’s wage. This method brings in somewhere around $2.50 a day, not nearly enough for a decent living in most countries. Getting rid of the middleman is not an option, as violence and coercion are commonly used methods of silencing the garbage workers if they attempt to sell the items directly to the recycler.

Breeding Grounds of Disease

Living in waste — whether human, animal or artificial — brings with it a host of health problems. Contact with feces can cause intestinal worms, which can lead to stunted cognitive and physical growth in children. Pneumonia, spread by poor hygiene, is rampant in these communities, as are many other infectious diseases. This is likely because each gram of feces in which people in these conditions come into contact holds 10 million viruses. As a result, the average lifespan of people raised in these communities is about 35 years old.

But along with the physical burden is a huge mental and emotional weight. Garbage pickers are often stigmatized in their communities and referred to as “local rats”. Even if they are able to attend school or enter society looking for a job, they are seen as less than because of their occupation. Infections, illness, injuries from sharp objects, trauma and mental illness, spontaneous combustion from a buildup of methane gas, the list of dangers is endless. And yet, for the world’s most vulnerable, this is what it costs to live.

Promise for a Better Future

Several organizations are committed to bringing change to garbage communities and offering them a shot at a better life. ActionAid is an organization that specifically works with women and children in impoverished regions to help them stand up to sexual abuse and violence. ActionAid also helps children living in landfills get into school by pairing them with sponsors throughout the world. International Samaritan does similar work, providing promising young people in the dumps with scholarships so that they can escape the dump. This organization also funds entrepreneurs to start up their own businesses outside of the landfills.

By reaching the next generation, these programs bring promising hope for the future. Yet, many people still live under the burden of collecting and sorting the world’s waste. Although insufficient, an improvement would be providing a living wage, clean environment and benefits for garbage communities. Even by following correct rather than cheap landfill protocol, governments could greatly improve the quality of life for these communities by reducing the number of toxic waste individuals come into contact with.

Hannah Stewart
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Life Expectancy in Malawi

The landlocked country of Malawi has a life expectancy rate of 60.2 years for males and 64.3 years for females. While this is much lower than the global average of 69.8 years for males and 74.2 years for females, it represents an improvement from previous years. These eight facts about life expectancy in Malawi will help shed light on the reasons for the low rate as well as what the country has done, and can still do, to improve it:

8 Facts About Life Expectancy in Malawi

  1. HIV/AIDS: As of 2017, an estimated 1 million people in Malawi were living with HIV/AIDS which places the country at 10th in the world in terms of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, there were also 13,000 deaths from the virus in the same year. Still, the government has made major strides to curb the epidemic in the last 10 years. Part of its strategy includes providing free condoms as well as educating young people. As of 2018, 78 percent of all people living with HIV in Malawi are on medication. There was also a decline in the number of new infections from 55,000 in 2010 to 38,000 in 2018.
  2. Maternal Health: In 2015, maternal mortality stood at 634 deaths for every 100,000 live births. This is considerably higher than the global average of 216 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, it represents a significant improvement as the government along with support from USAID has been able to reduce maternal mortality by 53 percent between 1990 and 2013. Today, more expectant mothers in both rural and urban areas are now receiving prenatal care as well as skilled birth assistance.
  3. Child Health: Great improvements have also been made in terms of child health, as most children under 5 in both rural and urban areas are vaccinated. This has helped reduce deaths from communicable childhood diseases such as measles, tetanus and pneumonia. The Ministry of Health has also implemented strategies like deworming and has also distributed vitamin A supplements to deal with other major causes of childhood death.
  4. Fertility Rate: In the 1980s Malawian women had about seven children per woman. Today, that number is at 5.5 children per woman. The high fertility rate affects life expectancy in Malawi as it puts pressure on the government to provide adequate social amenities in order to improve people’s lives.
  5. Population Growth: According to a 2018 census, Malawi’s population is 17.6 million people. By 2020 this is projected to hit 20.2 million, before doubling by 2050. This rapid population growth puts a lot of pressure on the country’s land, water and forest resources and threatens life expectancy as most Malawians derive their income from agriculture. The Third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III) sets out a number of policies including promoting family planning and sexual and reproductive health rights as a means to slow population growth, and better managing migration and urbanization.
  6. Infectious Diseases: Malawians are at very high risk of contracting infectious diseases. Food and waterborne diseases include diarrheal diseases and typhoid fever. In order to deal with diarrheal deaths, Malawians are in need of nutritious food as well as an unpolluted environment. Other diseases include malaria, dengue fever and rabies from animal contact. The country has been dealing with malaria by subsidizing mosquito nets. Additionally, Malawi is one of the three African countries taking part in a malaria vaccine pilot. The pilot aims to reach 360,000 children each year across Kenya, Ghana and Malawi.
  7. Water and Sanitation: One in three Malawians do not have access to clean water while 9.6 million people do not have a decent toilet. This affects the life expectancy in Malawi as it leads to an increase in diarrheal diseases. With the support of UNICEF and organizations such as Water Aid, the government of Malawi has made significant progress in reducing the number of people who lack access to safe water. Additionally, the rate of open defecation has declined from 29 percent in 1990 to four percent in 2015.
  8. Education: Malawi introduced free primary education in 1994 which put a strain on the education system. This is because the infrastructure, number of teachers and number of teaching and learning materials were inadequate when compared to the number of students who enrolled. It resulted in poor performance by the students, especially in terms of literacy.  The government of Malawi has been making an effort to improve the education sector by allocating more than 20 percent of the national budget to education.  It has also partnered with bodies such as USAID and UNICEF to improve literacy levels as well as student enrollment and completion rates. An educated and skilled population will help increase Malawi’s economic growth. Educational reforms will help reduce the unemployment rate which is currently more than 20 percent.

Malawi is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, and a lot still needs to be done to improve the lives of its people. It is however clear that the government is working with the support of nonprofit organizations around the world to make life better for its people.

Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in MaltaLocated in the middle of the Mediterranean, south of Italy, Malta is a country made up of a small set of islands full of life and unique culture. Geographically, Malta is just smaller than twice the size of Washington, D.C. and home to nearly 450,000 inhabitants. From 1814 to 1964, Malta was a British colony but has since established itself as a republic, become a member of the European Union and adopted the euro as its currency. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Malta

  1. Malta was the only member of the EU not to have legalized divorce up until 2011. Until then, if married couples wanted to divorce, they had to leave the country to do so. This is largely due to the Roman Catholic Church’s influence over the country’s more than 95 percent Catholic population. The legislation went into effect beginning October 2011, despite opposition from even the prime minister, who worried legalizing divorce would “weaken the family structure in Malta.”
  2. The most common form of transportation in Malta is driving by car. The country permits tourists to bring cars over to the islands for a maximum of six months. There are also rental cars available for those of age. Subsequently, traffic is highly congested. Alternative modes of transportation include taxis, buses and the karrozzin, traditional horse-drawn carriages that have been in use in Malta since the mid-19th century.
  3. Malta’s government offers comprehensive varieties of health care, as well as high-quality dental care, to citizens. People can find multiple pharmacies as well, along with two main hospitals and many health centers. Although Maltese is the main official language of the islands, people speak English across all hospitals, health care facilities and pharmacies.
  4. While Malta is not really a point of conflict or transnational problems, it does have a military branch named the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). This military branch includes all aspects; air, naval and land. While there are not any real international relations issues, Malta does serve as a transshipment point for transportation of hashish — coming from cannabis — from North Africa into Western Europe.
  5. Britain’s military presence in Malta had a massive impact on the country’s economy up until its independence in 1964. Because Malta lacks enough natural resources and has a small, domestic economic market, it relies heavily on other nations for imports. The Maltese economy also leans on the shipbuilding and repair industry, but even that is becoming depleted further and further since gaining independence.
  6. In Malta, 29.8 percent of the population is obese, causing the country to rank 28th in the world for obesity. This is likely due to Maltese citizens’ heavy reliance on cars as opposed to walking or cycling. While some use bicycles, bicycling is largely unpopular due to the poor road conditions and heavy traffic. When not on main roads, it is a bit easier to navigate the streets on a bicycle, making it an increasingly popular mode of transportation.
  7. Literacy rates among citizens 15 years and older are essentially the same at 88 percent. The Maltese Constitution warrants that both men and women have equal rights in terms of employment. Malta established The Ministry of Social Development and Equal Status for Women and has allowed for more married women to participate in the workforce.
  8. Malta expanded education systems to include compulsory schooling for children ages five to 16 in the mid-1980s. As of 2005, Malta further reformed its the education system to include regional colleges that incorporated primary and secondary school educations in addition to a junior college. Malta also has two forms of higher education, the University of Malta at Msida and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology.
  9. Malta imports an abundance of fossil fuels in order to supply its energy. As Malta’s only natural mineral resource is limestone, used in construction, it has extremely limited clean energy resources.
  10. The youth unemployment rate in Malta is 10.30 percent as of April 2019. While this is not a huge portion of the population, youths (those under the age of 24) make up 11.44 percent of the Maltese population.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta highlight that, in spite of the country’s tumultuous history, it has persisted. While there are aspects Malta must improve upon such as transportation reliance and employment rates, Malta is a tiny country with an impressive development story.

Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in San Marino
In the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula lies San Marino, one of the world’s tiny micro states surrounded entirely by the country of Italy. Its modern form has shaped since 1463 and the country has maintained its autonomy until today. In fact, it is the world’s oldest republic. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in San Marino

  1. Population: As of 2019, there are 33,683 people living in San Marino. It has the fifth smallest population on Earth. Roughly 15 percent of the population are migrants and 53 percent are individuals within the working ages of 18 to 65. The nation’s official language is Italian. The poverty rate of the country is very low, so the country does not officially measure it.
  2. Education: Education is compulsory until the age of 14 and attendance is free. Almost the entire population has completed secondary school as the country has a 91 percent completion rate. Over 10 percent of government spending goes towards education. Citizens of San Marino mostly pursue college degrees in surrounding Italy or abroad.
  3. Economy:  Economic output relies heavily on finance and manufacturing. The banking sector accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP at roughly 60 percent. Corporate taxes are low in comparison to the EU and the standard of living is high.
  4. Health Care: Life expectancy in San Marino is 83.4 years old. Health care is not free, but a universal system exists parallel to a private system.  The Azienda Sanitaria Locale insurance fund provides the government system. There are six physicians for every 1,000 inhabitants as of 2014. Child mortality is extremely low with only one death in 2018.
  5. Government System: San Marino has nine municipalities and the country is a parliamentary, representative, democratic republic. The legislation is within two chambers and there are two captain regents as heads of state. The country directs foreign policy mostly towards aligning with the EU. Therefore foreign aid policy is similar to that in the European Union.
  6. Social Security: There is social insurance for the elderly and the disabled. Furthermore, there are survivorship benefits for the unemployed and the widowed even though the unemployment rate has reduced in the past years.
  7. Communications: As access to information can make a big difference in human development, an important aspect of the top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino is the country’s access to this right. Its living standards reflect this. More than half of the population are active internet users and broadband is widely available. There are 38,000 cellphone subscriptions active today which is more than the entire population.
  8. Labor Conditions: The law forbids workplace discrimination for any reason. The state guarantees contracts and the minimum wage is 9.74 euros per hour. In general, labor conditions are safe with an eight-hour working day in guaranteed humane conditions. Meanwhile, as of 2018, the unemployment rate was only eight percent.
  9. NGOs in San Marino: There are no specific NGO projects in San Marino, but a number of NGOs do exist from time to time specially aiding in education and training as well as health. For instance, the British organization, Hope is Kindled, was present in 2006 with a project to advance health through medical and technological research.
  10. The Serene Republic: As a small enclave, San Marino does not have large natural reserves within its territory. Nonetheless, it shares the geography of surrounding Italy which is slightly mountainous and mild. It imports most of its resources and food. To be able to keep its stable political and social system while being dependant on other countries, it must be in good terms with its neighbors and the international community.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino demonstrate why this small nation has been able to maintain such serenity for more than six centuries. As a result, it has been able to ensure its citizen’s freedom and security in all aspects.

– Diego Vallejo Riofrio
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Lichtenstein

Liechtenstein is a little-known principality located between Austria and Switzerland. Despite its small size (roughly 38, 000 inhabitants) it has a growing economy, which allows for residents to have a high standard of living. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Liechtenstein.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Liechtenstein

  1. Liechtenstein provides its workers with some of the highest wages in Europe – Because of the growing economy, citizens of Liechtenstein benefit from one of the highest wage levels across Europe. On average, citizens make about $92,000 annually. When compared to the average gross salary of Germany’s citizens, Liechtenstein’s citizens have a higher income by about $15,000.
  2. Living costs are high – While the country has high wage levels, it also has high living expenses. The average citizen spends about half their monthly income on their fixed costs, which usually include housing, utilities, transportation and health insurance. Despite the high living costs, Liechtenstein has a zero percent poverty rate with poverty being defined as those living at or below $5.50/day.
  3. The country offers universal health care – Health insurance is required and guaranteed to all people living or working in Liechtenstein. Individuals’ insurance is financed by their insurance holder and their employer as well as by state subsidies. Although there is no current data with regards to the increase in healthcare costs over time in Liechtenstein, in 2016, the government spent $188 million on social welfare programs such as healthcare.
  4. The government provides its residents with a high-quality education – Liechtenstein relies on its excellent education system to provide the economy with highly qualified workers. After completing the mandatory schooling period of 11 years (from primary school to high school), individuals are left with a range of options to pursue further education. These options include vocational training, higher education (college or university), and apprenticeships.
  5. A high percentage of Liechtenstein labor force commutes into work – The Feldkirch-Buchs railway connects Switzerland to Austria, passing through Liechtenstein on the way. This railway allows workers to commute into Liechtenstein. Since a majority of the country’s workers, (55 percent) are from neighboring countries, this system is crucial in maintaining Liechtenstein’s labor force. The reason behind the high number of commuters is because Liechtenstein’s economy has grown so quickly over the past years that its domestic labor force has not been able to keep up.
  6. Liechtenstein has a strong economy – Liechtenstein has one of the highest measures of GDP per capita in the world ($168,146.02) and a low inflation rate of 0.5 percent. Although not officially recognized by the European Union, it does receive some of the monetary and economic benefits of the organization because of its deal with Switzerland, which stipulates that they import a large percentage of their energy requirements from the Swiss and use the Swiss Franc as their national currency.
  7. Residents have religious freedom – Although an overwhelming majority of the population is Roman Catholic (the official state religion), there remain many individuals in the country who practice other religions or other forms of Christianity. The state is currently in the process of separating itself from the church, however, this is largely considered a symbolic move, as the current union does not appear to affect adherents of other religions. The government is pursuing this initiative by creating a provisional constitutional amendment to establish new regulations between the state and the religious communities. Additionally, there has been mention of providing more equitable funding for all the different religious organizations, rather than solely giving the Catholic church more funding.
  8. The country provides immigrants with good living conditions – Immigrants make up about 65 percent of the total population in Liechtenstein.  Many of these immigrants come from nearby countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Although the requirements for the naturalization process are quite lengthy, (an individual has to live in Liechtenstein for 30 years before beginning the process) immigrants receive all the same benefits that natural-born citizens receive.
  9. Liechtenstein has low unemployment – Liechtenstein has an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent. Most of its labor force is employed in the services and goods sectors, with only 0.6 percent being employed in the agriculture sector. About 40 percent of the workforce is employed in the industrial sector, which, combined with the manufacturing sector, make up about 40 percent of the country’s gross value added. Its economy is focused primarily on high-quality exports, services and goods such as machine and plant construction, as well as precision tools and dental instruments, among other items.
  10. Liechtenstein has had issues with spreadable diseases in the past – Some of the most common diseases include influenza, hepatitis B and tick-borne encephalitis. The country has since introduced several initiatives to address these issues, signing treaties with Switzerland and Austria in order to provide its citizens with better healthcare options.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Liechtenstein demonstrate the quality of life with which residents of Liechtenstein experience on a daily basis. While the country certainly has some very positive trends going for it (namely, unemployment, wages, GDP, and its education system) it also has some things to improve upon, such as reducing living costs, which make it hard for many individuals to live in the country. Nevertheless, Liechtenstein appears to be in a good state presently, as it provides many services and freedoms that make it a desirable place to live.

– Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands are British Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 3,000 miles away from anywhere or anyone aside from its 50-or-so inhabitants. Crystal clear blue water surrounds its only settlement, the village of Adamstown, which is free of air pollution, but a lack of space and accessibility makes for tight quarters and close relationships. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions on the Pitcairn Islands.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Pitcairn Islands

  1. While the inhabitants of this tiny volcanic island are not a part of the 10 percent living in extreme poverty today, island life is not always a paradise. Pitcairn Islanders are able to live sustainable lives with the help of British financial aid which sums to over $3 million per year. The islanders boil water to serve all of their needs in copper pots over rose-apple firewood. Among the top 10 facts about living conditions in Pitcairn Islands, it is important to note that although job opportunities are in short supply, the Government of Pitcairn Islands or the Government of Private Enterprises employs most of the working residents in roles such as domestic work and gardening.
  2. Of the 50 islanders, most claim they descended from Fletcher Christian, one of the original settlers that took refuge on the island. However, artifacts and fossil evidence suggest that Polynesians inhabited the island prior to the otherwise-documented European discovery and colonization.
  3. The island’s main industry is tourism, as is the case for many small countries in the tropics. Because of its size and population, tourism is somewhat limited. There are roughly 10 cruise ships and several yachts that stop at Pitcairn every year, but some of the passengers are Pitcairners or their family members. Homemade soaps, purple sea urchin jewelry (fetuei) and bone and wood carvings are available to tourists. Islanders harvest their own coffee, cacao and award-winning tropical raw honey. They sell stamps, coins, postcards and other merchandise as well to subsidize their incomes.
  4. The Pitcairn Island Tourism Coordinator explains on its website that “…issues and differences pass as quickly as they arise on Pitcairn – smiles, cheek and laughter generally reign and in the face of adversity we all do what we do best, ‘Get off it and get on with it!’” This speaks largely to the culture that shapes the lives of Pitcairn Islanders, especially considering that generations of child abuse had ensued among native inhabitants and most islanders “looked the other way.”
  5. Lack of accessibility and quality with regards to medical care is still a prominent issue for the people of Pitcairn. The island is located 32 hours by yacht from Peru in the Northeast and New Zealand in the Southwest.
  6. Habitants of Pitcairn claim that they are not so isolated since technological advances, such as the phone and internet, reached their island in 2006. Now, Pitcairn Islands even has its products available globally via its official government website. Islanders hope that having an internet connection will help raise awareness about the island and what it can offer for tourists.
  7. Since the highest quality education is not available to the children of Adamstown, many children and teens go away to school. Pitcairners value education highly and so instead of homeschooling the children, the majority attend school in New Zealand to ensure a proper education.
  8. Within the top 10 facts about living conditions in Pitcairn Islands are parts of the island’s history that are not so fortunate. After the year 2000, trials occurred for multiple men on the island for forced sexual acts against children. The Government of Pitcairn Islands argued that this was the British Government’s attempt to depopulate the nearly desolate island, but as one might guess, Britain claimed otherwise. The latest sexual abuse act of Pitcairn occurred in the late 1990s; many changes have taken place since including the implementation of a full child protection system and the stationing of police officials on Pitcairn for additional protection.
  9. Pitcairn Islands once forbid holding hands in public, as well as dancing, drinking alcohol and smoking. Pitcairn has since abolished these laws and even legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. Still, certain behaviors have become uniquely normalized in Pitcairn Island’s culture; behaviors larger civilizations would not typically tolerate. Ever on the verge of extinction, a conventionally inappropriate form of survival sexual behavior has ensued between men and young girls on the island for years. This type of enforced “abstinence” indirectly contributes to the generations of secret rape culture and sexual abuse towards children that have taken place on this remote island getaway.
  10. Pitcairn Island has its own prison. With only two square miles to work with, Pitcairners found a way to seek justice for those who have been wronged. Of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Pitcairn Islands, the fact that it has a functioning prison system is impressive considering the population, or lack thereof. The prison offers accommodations for tourists. Pitcairn’s prison doubles as lodging for travelers for necessary spatial and efficiency purposes.

Pitcairn Islands faces real challenges, but most are due to a dwindling population as opposed to the extreme levels of poverty that exist elsewhere globally. As long as the island continues to receive financial aid from the British Government at the same rate with respect to inflation, the island should be able to stay afloat financially as long as its inhabitants and future immigrants are able to sustain a population.

– Helen Schwie
Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about living conditions in palau

The Republic of Palau is a tropical island country made up of more than 300 islands, of which only nine are inhabited. With the surrounding blue waters, Palau’s marine environment is among the largest and most diverse in the world. This is why supporting the life of these ecosystems is critical for healthy living conditions in Palau. The country has a relatively high standard of living compared to other Pacific Island countries but the greatest risks to living conditions are increasing impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels. The following top six facts about living conditions in Palau concern the environment, economy and society.

Top 6 Facts About Living Conditions in Palau

  1. The government of Palau collaborated with the U.N. and created the Advancing Sustainable Resource Management to Improve Livelihoods and Protect Biodiversity in Palau project to enhance the management of sustainable resources, improve livelihoods of citizens and protect biodiversity in Palau. The project, which began in 2017 and will conclude in 2021, supports ecosystems in the context of small island life. Many national partners support the project and stakeholders from different industries can share different approaches to developing sustainable strategies.
  2. Palau is specifically dependent on foreign grants. In Palau, banks do not lend much domestically and instead, invest most of their assets abroad. A report on Palau by the International Monetary Fund, in conjunction with Palauan government officials, stated that in 2017, the loan to deposit ratio remained low at 12.2 percent. Credit to the private sector stood at 11.9 percent of GDP, despite an increase in domestic credit of 15.4 percent.
  3. Palau is an independent and sovereign state but is in free association with the U.S., which provides Palau with defense, funding and access to social services. Though this has helped levels of development in the country, the dependency could pose a risk if Palau stopped receiving foreign assistance. To manage the economy more closely, the government established the first Palauan financial bodies in the early 21st century.
  4. Education is mandatory for children in Palau between the ages of 6 and 14. The Ministry of Education has created a Palau College and Career Access Program that assists Palauan kids with college and career planning. For example, it hosts a database, Kuder, which allows students to explore different career pathways based on their interests and skills.
  5. The Palau Ministry of Education, both independently and in accordance with the U.S., offers scholarships and grants to Palauans who want to further their education abroad since the country has no higher education institutions. Additionally, the Palau National Scholarship Board created the Palau Fellowship Program to encourage Palauan university students to return to help the Republic and become leaders in their community. In 2019, 26 students were awarded the fellowship to intern at a Palauan organization relevant to each student’s career interests.
  6. Rural communities depend on small-scale agriculture, fishing and selling goods to sustain their livelihoods. Nonprofits like the Palau Conservation Society work to sustain both the citizens and the environmental heritage of Palau. One of its programs, the Conservation and Protected Areas Program, trains Palauans in community-based action to establish management plans and manage conservation sites of their own.

These top six facts about living conditions in Palau present the many challenges the Republic faces but also the solutions and strategies that have been created as a result. As Palau moves into the future, its government, in collaboration with the U.S., is making strides, especially in protecting the country from possible ecological threats and in offering more opportunities to young Palauan students.

– Melina Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Living Conditions in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, still affected today by the aftermath of colonization and political violence. A history of conflicts has left most of its populace impoverished. These 10 facts about living conditions in Madagascar show some of the larger issues the country is facing, as well as what the future holds for the island.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Madagascar

    1. More than two-thirds of the population in Madagascar lives below the poverty line, with most living on less than $1.90 a day. Three-quarters of the population live in rural areas, and only 13 percent of the population has access to electricity. The country has one of the lowest Human Capital Indexes in the world at 0.37.
    2. In 2009, Andry Rajoelina led a coup that overthrew the elected president at the time. Ever since then, the political system has been accused of corruption. The judicial system in the country is both slow and weak, and this hampers other systems of the government as well as the business sector.
    3. Madagascar is no stranger to natural disasters, and the island experiences three or four devastating cyclones each year. Cyclones cause massive structural and property damage. Madagascar is one of the countries most at risk of natural disasters in Africa. In 2016, a drought caused food shortages that caused widespread starvation, and this still affects the citizens today.
    4. Problems that plague children in poorer nations are unfortunately just as present in Madagascar. The country has the world’s fourth-highest rate of malnutrition, with 50 percent of children growing up stunted or undergrown. Education is in just as poor a situation. In 2012, approximately 1.4 million children dropped out of school because of political unrest in the region, and the numbers have struggled to rise since. Now, Madagascar has the fifth-lowest education rate in the world.
    5. Eighty percent of the population of Madagascar is employed in the agricultural field. Despite improvements to the economy in some areas, this sector has grown smaller by 0.8 percent every year since 2014. Most farmers are unable to use modern technologies, and weather shocks make farming difficult. However, Madagascar has an excellent climate for growing certain crops like clove and vanilla. Vanilla exports have increased significantly since 2017.
    6. Madagascar is the fifth-largest island in the world. It has a landmass of 587,000 square kilometers and 25.5 million inhabitants. The island is also rich in natural resources, including graphite, coal, quartz and salt.
    7. Madagascar has one of the largest numbers of endemic species on the planet with more than 250,000 on the island. But since the 19th century, the rainforests in Madagascar have been depleted by 80 percent. Eighteen million people in Madagascar depend on natural resources: 80 percent of the population uses the forests from everything from food to medicinal remedies. Conservationism aside, the deforestation in Madagascar represents a threat to the way of life of the people who live there.
    8. In more recent years, Madagascar’s economy has been slowly improving. The economy grew by 5.2 percent in 2018 and has seen similar growth these last five years. Inflation was at 8.3 percent in 2017 but went down to 7.3 percent the next year.
    9. The situation for Madagascar may seem bleak, but aid is currently being provided to multiple of its sectors. Some 12,704 schools have received grants in order to purchase new equipment, and 5.1 million students were also provided with much-needed study materials. Recently, 600 schools helped bring meals to 103,608 children, helping to combat the widespread malnutrition in the country.
    10. Between 2015 and 2017, multiple reforms designed to help the business climate have been implemented, and they have shown results in creating new entrepreneurs. Second Integrated Growth Poles and Corridors Project (PIC2) serves to reduce barriers around investing and business creation. So far, 400,000 businesses and business owners have benefitted from this, and there was an 85 percent increase in the number of new businesses in 2017.

– Owen Zinkweg
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Papua New Guinea

With hundreds of ethnic groups indigenous to Papua New Guinea, the nation is made up of predominantly rural villages with their own languages. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Papua New Guinea gives an insight into what life in these communities is like.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Papua New Guinea

  1. Papua New Guinea’s vast natural resources are being threatened. While 80 percent of Papua New Guinea is covered in forest, the resources are predicted to be used up in a generation, possibly just a decade. Home to what conservationists call “the last rainforest,” Papua New Guinea is home to massive resources loggers are rushing to exploit due to it being one of the last nations to legally permit the exportation of raw logs. As Vincent Mutumuto, a local of rural Papua New Guinea told the Gazette, the foreign logging is destroying many tiny farms such as his banana tree and watermelon farm, which brings in his family of 16’s only income. While loggers are thriving on the nation’s resources, Papuans and the economy of their nation are suffering from it.
  2. Papua New Guinea has failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. With an average life expectancy of 62.9 years, the nation is ranked 157 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Healthcare, water and sanitation, civil unrest and education are all behind this statistic. The nation is one of only a handful to not reach these goals.
  3. Tuberculosis incidences are highest in the region. Humid air and weak immune systems due to malnutrition allow the disease to stay strong. While much of the world sees tuberculosis as a thing of the past, it remains one of the most infectious killers in Papua New Guinea. The region of Daru Island in the country has been called by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “global hotspot” for drug-resistant tuberculosis. The World Bank has contributed $15 million in the form of aid in screenings and programs diagnosing and treating the disease. Results of this multi-nation effort have proved positive thus far, and the programs are seeing expansion.
  4. Vaccinations aren’t accessible. For the population of 8.25 million, vaccinations must be helicoptered into the remote areas many locals live, if they are available at all. The World Health Organization has been sending aid to the authority on vaccinations in Papua New Guinea, the 1981-born Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in the form of cleaner injections, safer waste disposal, accessible screening processes and setting up effective domestic production. Additionally, the WHO sent a score of important immunizations, such as those for maternal and neonatal tetanus, measles and hepatitis B.
  5. Water is a luxury. Many towns across Papua New Guinea have no central water supply system. Children must travel long distances to lug jugs back to their families. According to data from the World Bank, Papua New Guinea’s increase in accessible drinking water increased by an insignificant six percent while its overall sanitation index decreased by one percent, and that overall Papua New Guinea has the lowest water and sanitation access indicators among the 15 developing Pacific Island nations. Furthermore, the lack of water is impacting children’s education. As one teacher explained to World Bank, “I have seen that the problem of water is a major problem that affects many of our students in learning especially during the dry season.” Students are sent home early (around 12 p.m.) in order to help their parents gather water. During the dry season, students often miss school for days at a time.
  6. Violence is a side effect of poverty. Physical and sexual abuse are common in Papua New Guinea, and many occurrences committed by the police themselves. According to Human Rights Watch, police beat 74 men and slashed their ankles after a street brawl in the capital of Port Moresby this past May.
  7. Papua New Guinea is living in the dark. Only 20 percent of the nation’s population had access to electricity as of 2017. While PNG Power Ltd, the company running the nation’s electricity, is working with rural communities to provide power, development is still necessary.
  8. Businesses are improving. Rural wellbeing is being raised by a ‘bottom-up’ approach. This entails private sector involvement in isolated villages, focusing on improving family businesses such as local farms where the majority of citizens make their livelihood. This is not only generating entrepreneurship but also improving living conditions for the communities. Roberta Morlin is leading the trend of young entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea. She said, “When I first started in 2015, I had 30 different ideas and I had to validate (reduce) those ideas down to 15. I had to further validate over the next 15 months down to four, which I am currently working on.”
  9. Papua New Guinea is experiencing economic growth. With abundant national reserves and improving family businesses, Papua New Guinea has experienced 14 years in a row of positive GDP growth. Between 2003 and 2015, the nation’s economy grew and proved that with the right involvement the country can develop further.
  10. People are migrating to Papua New Guinea. A new trend for Australians to move to the country is bringing Papua New Guinea hope. According to People Connexion, the decision is due to the slower pace of living and sense of community present there. This new trend to move and work in Papua New Guinea could hopefully greatly boost their economy.

As Papua New Guinea strives to meet future Millennium Development Goals, there must be an improvement in the economy, education and healthcare. Attention must be focused on locals, preserving natural resources, and helping improve productivity within small businesses in order to improve overall living conditions in Papua New Guinea.

– Maura Byrne
Photo: Wikimedia Commons