PA 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Jamaica
The home of Bob Marley and reggae music hosts many tourists each year in its breezy Caribbean, yet not all are aware of the living conditions of Jamaican people beyond the tourist resort walls. Growth and progress are reflected through the development and strides various organizations provide in cooperation with the locals to transform this island nation. In the text below, some facts to know about how each advancement rejuvenates living conditions in Jamaica are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Jamaica

  1. There are 2.89 million people recorded living in Jamaica with around 25 percent of people living in Kingston, the island nation’s capital. This affects living conditions in Jamaica in a big way due to the congestion in the capital.
  2. The World Bank reports that Jamaica’s poverty rate declined from 21.1 percent in 2015 to 17.1 percent in 2016 and is projected to continue to decline up until 2020. Jamaica’s government created a reform program that gained national and international support. Through such support, in 2013 the World Bank provided more than $500 million for development policy and investment financing for private sector growth, transformation and building resilience for the climate and social status.
  3. Due to Jamaica’s freedom of the press, their broadcast media are typically commercial and can carry diverse comment. This provides Jamaicans with a variety of news to reach their locals. Reporters Without Borders rank this island nation in the top 10 nations regarding the World Press Freedom Index.
  4. Jamaica has been a nation with free health care since April 2008. Since then, patients at public hospitals and health centers have benefited from several health services free of cost regardless of their living conditions in Jamaica. Records show that more than 422,000 persons have benefited from the services at public health facilities such as appointments and hospital stay.
  5. Total employment throughout Jamaica increased and unemployment fell from 12.2 percent in April 2017 to 9.7 percent in April 2018. The government had a role in this success. The Ministry of Finance reported that they put an emphasis on the training required for skilled labor so that they could increase the level of high-paying jobs and employment. Further, youth unemployment also fell by 3.2 percent, hitting its lowest rate since 2007.
  6. As of January 2019, employees in Kingston make an average salary of $19,864 per year. The living conditions in Jamaica are affordable whether people rent or purchase a home with a one-bedroom rental going for $360 per month and purchasing a home is on average less than $75,000. Most Jamaicans do not spend a lot of utilities because the cost of kitchen appliances on the island is expensive. Groceries are inexpensive in the area and dining out to eat is on average $40.
  7. The curriculums for primary and secondary education in Jamaica mimic the curriculums in the U.K. Secondary school consists of two stages. The first stage consists of grades from seven to nine, and the second stage of grades 10 and 11. NAFSA reports that upon completion of grade 11, students take the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), with subjects administered by the Caribbean Examinations Councils (CXC).
  8. The World Bank reported imported fossil fuels provided 90 percent of Jamaica’s energy needs in the past. Currently, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) supports BMR Energy, creator of BMR Jamaica Wind Project. It is the largest private-sector renewable energy project in Jamaica. Since BMR Energy reported taking ownership and operation of the 36-megawatt wind farm, Jamaica set goals to generate 30 percent of its energy from local renewable sources to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030.
  9. The government issued several states of emergencies throughout 2018 that led the military and police to now engage in joint security operations. These include checkpoints and curfews to extinguish the violence and restore order. To record, World Nomads reported that the island is littered with gang violence and drug exportation that affect citizens because it interrupts commerce and daily life routines.
  10. According to the latest WHO data published in 2018, life expectancy in Jamaica is 73.6 years for males and 78.5 years for females. That said, the total life expectancy is 76 years, which ranks Jamaica on 59th place on World Life Expectancy. In addition, the possibility of child deaths under the age of five in 2017 was typically 15 to every 1,000 newborn babies.

The improvement of living conditions in Jamaica is developing daily. Even though health care is free in Jamaica, there is still work to be done to make the health centers more accessible. Nevertheless, the employment rate in Jamaica is on the climb for both youth and adults. The literacy rate among the youth in primary and secondary education is a prevalent component to the jobs they seek after they graduate. Since transitioning to renewable energy, the island nation is on its way to further improve the living conditions for its citizens.

– Carolina Chaves

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tunisia
While there is still more work to be done in decreasing employment rates and making housing more affordable, the North African country of Tunisia has made significant strides in improving the living conditions for its citizens. Substantial developments have been made in moving towards universal health care and bolstering Tunisia’s education system. In the article below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Tunisia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tunisia

  1. More work still needs to be done in increasing employment rates for youth and women in the country. Youth employment is one of the main issues that Tunisia faces. One solution is to enhance the capacity for job creation in the formal private sector. The unemployment rate of youth aged from 15 to 30 is higher than 30 percent. The unemployment rate for women is even more than this percentage in some areas. The percentage of the labor force with a college degree increased from 10 percent to 16 percent from 2000 to 2010, and this percentage keeps increasing. One issue facing those who are educated is that their quality of education does not meet the skills required for certain jobs.
  2. Some more progress can be made in Tunisia in decreasing the unemployment rate. In Tunisia, the unemployment rate increased from 15.40 percent in the second quarter of 2018 to 15.50 percent in the third quarter of 2018. The overall unemployment rate in Tunisia was 15.36 percent on average from 2005 to 2018. The largest percentage of the unemployment rate was 18.90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the lowest was 12.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.
  3. Some progress has been made in increasing country’s GDP that has helped to ameliorate living conditions in Tunisia. From  2000 to 2014, Tunisia’s GDP increased from $21.47 billion to $47.59 billion. However, in the last few years, GDP decreased, and was at $40.25 billion in 2017.
  4. Significant strides have been made in decreasing poverty and extreme poverty. From 1995 to 2010, Tunisia has drastically reduced poverty from one million to 0.2 million people. From 2000 to 2015, poverty has decreased from 25 percent to 15 percent, respectively. In addition, extreme poverty has decreased to 3 percent in 2015 from 7.5 percent in 2000.
  5. Economic policies were implemented to decrease poverty in the country and they are the main reason why there was a decrease in poverty during periods where there was no economic growth.
  6. More work still needs to be done in making housing more affordable. Some issues households in Tunisia face is inflation and the small number of microfinance for housing, hindering the access to finance. The primary ways the government helps households finance affordable housing is through financial subsidies.
  7. The Ministry of Health governs the public health care system in Tunisia, bolstered by numerous public institutions. There are three levels of care in Tunisia: primary, made up of 81 clinics and 2,091 basic health centers, secondary, made up of 109 district hospitals, and tertiary, made up of 33 regional hospitals and 24 modern specialized centers and teaching hospitals. The public sector is the main health care provider in Tunisia, providing for 87 percent of hospital bed capacity, totaling to 31,936 beds.
  8. There have been substantial developments in Tunisia in moving towards universal health care coverage, which is in part demonstrated by the work of the National Health Insurance Fund. The annual health care spending in 2013 totaled to 7.1 percent of the country’s GDP. Thirty-seven percent of the cost was spent by Tunisian households, 35 percent was spent by the National Health Insurance Fund and 28 percent was spent by the government.
  9. The Tunisian government places a strong emphasis on education. There are three levels of education in Tunisia that are basic education, secondary education and higher education. The government sees the value in education for growing its human resources and has made primary education mandatory and at free of costs.
  10. Due to the decreasing quality of education and high unemployment rates of young graduates, the government is striving to overhaul its education system. After the 2011 revolution that marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Government of Tunisia has been endeavoring to make reforms in a Strategic Plan for the Education Sector 2016-2020. The objectives of the five-year plan are strengthening quality standards through teacher training, bolstering curriculum and infrastructure and improving the framework for private sector partnerships.

There has been significant progress in ameliorating the living conditions in Tunisia. While still more strides can and must be made in decreasing employment rates and making housing more affordable, the country has increased its GDP substantially, decreased poverty and extreme poverty as well. With more effort, a bright future is on the horizon for further improving living conditions in Tunisia.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a geographically and ethnically diverse island nation located in the Caribbean and shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The past few decades have seen momentous change for the country, both political and economic. This change has been mostly positive, resulting in the more representative democracy and growing economy. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Dominican Republic are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Dominican Republic

  1. The Dominican Republic is a presidential republic, with approximately 10.5 million residents, making it the second most populous nation in the Caribbean. Consequently, it is one of the most influential countries in the region.
  2. A remarkable development of the country can be seen best by looking at the country’s GDP growth rate. The economy grew by 6.3 percent in 2018 and averaged around 5 percent growth in the preceding decade. The country benefits from a large export market in the United States and a service-based economy, particularly tourism. Millions of people visit the country every year for its warm climate and beaches.
  3. Dominicans elect their leaders through democratic elections. The president is elected to a four-year term, and the office is currently held by President Danilo Medina. Democratic elections are certainly an improvement from the country’s history of autocratic rule. However, Freedom House states that elections could be more inclusive if equal access to party funding, media coverage, and vote count efficiency were improved.
  4. Despite sustaining impressive economic growth, the country performs quite poorly in several health metrics. Life expectancy ranks 151th out of 223 countries, infant mortality at 22.7 deaths per 1,000 is well above the world average, and infectious diseases such as dengue fever, AIDS and typhoid remain prevalent.
  5. Primary education in the Dominican Republic is compulsory. Eighty-five percent of Dominicans are officially literate. However, an educational divide exists between the wealthy and the poor. Poorer Dominicans are less likely to pursue a college or vocational degree, likely due to added household responsibilities, such as caring for family and earning money.
  6. Crime remains a concern in the Dominican Republic. As a transit point for narcotics entering North America, gang activity is constantly present. The conflicts among rival gangs contribute to a homicide rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants, ranking the Dominican Republic in the top 10 worldwide homicide leaders.
  7. Pervasive corruption is a grim reality in the Dominican Republic. From multinational corporations bribing government officials for favorable business deals to police officers hoping to make a quick dollar on the side, many Dominicans accept corruption as inevitable. The Corruptions Perceptions Index ranks nations by assigning them a score in a range from zero to 100, zero being least corrupt. The Dominican Republic receives a score of 33, ranking it at the 103rd place out of 167 countries assessed. Such corruption robs citizens of efficient government, as their tax dollars are squandered in favor of preferential treatment for those loyal to the government.
  8. Although poverty is declining, income inequality is a concern for the country. Poverty decreased from 30.8 percent to 28.9 percent in 2016, although still leaving over a quarter of the population poor. Dominican Republic’s GINI coefficient, which measures income inequality, is 45.3, considered to be moderately high.
  9. Another issue plaguing the Dominican Republic is access to efficient electricity. This has consequences for many sectors of society, most critically medicine. The Inter-American Development Bank is providing a $400 million loan to the Dominican government, with a goal of improving energy efficiency. This will be accomplished through improving oversight of the electricity network’s regulatory board and reforming the private electricity market.
  10. Fleeing poverty and devastation from earthquakes, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have immigrated to their neighboring nation in search of a better life. The Dominican government has recently taken drastic measures regarding this issue, including deportation crackdowns and ending birthright citizenship. Tactfully addressing this challenge is paramount for the Dominican Republic, as uncontrolled immigration can strain social services. However, the plight of refugees must also be taken into consideration.

Life in the Dominican Republic can be seen as beautiful, considering the country’s natural riches and beautiful sceneries. However, this island nation still has a long way to go in achieving equality and high living standards for its citizens. Improvements have been made in the past few years, but the government must address various issues, such as crime and corruption, in order to make a country true heaven on Earth.

– Joseph Banish
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Moldova
The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked nation, situated between Romania and Ukraine. It is a former satellite nation of the USSR, gaining its independence in 1991. Moldova’s transition to democracy and a market-based economy has been very challenging. The country still remains one of Europe’s poorest countries, heavily dependent on Russian resources. However, poverty is decreasing at a steady rate. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Moldova are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Moldova

  1. Moldova is a relatively small nation and has around 3.5 million residents. One troubling statistic for its long-term outlook is a negative population growth rate of -1.06 percent. This can be attributed to low birth rates, along with economic migration from citizens to more affluent and developed nations.
  2. Moldova suffers from a phenomenon called “brain drain”, which affects many developing nations around the world. Skilled workers in a country with limited employment opportunities emigrate, depriving their home of talented professionals. According to Deutsche-Welle, it is estimated that every fourth Moldovan work abroad, with many taking advantage of having dual Romanian citizenship, entitling them to work throughout the European Union.
  3. In an effort to retain more of its skilled workforce, both the private sector and Moldovan government are investing in the technology startup infrastructure. Tech giants are investing in Moldova’s universities, along with a plan to contribute $112.000 to each of the 10 best Moldovan startups. Although this may be a nascent industry, building a tech-friendly business environment should help Moldova retain skilled workers, as well as integrate with the Western economy.
  4. Around 19 percent of rural Moldovans live in poverty, versus 5 percent in urban areas. Economic opportunities in rural Moldova are mainly limited to agriculture, with higher paying jobs concentrated in cities such as the capital Chisinau.
  5. Moldova vacillates between allying with its more EU friendly neighbors, and Russia. Linguistically, Moldova is more similar to Romania. However, Russia’s status as an energy exporter subordinates Moldova to its influence. Moldova imports 98 percent of its energy, ranking it the ninth riskiest country in the world in terms of short-term energy security.
  6. Moldova’s system of governance has come a long way since independence from the USSR. Indeed, corruption still persists, but Moldova recently achieved a “partly free” rating from Freedom House International. Additionally, the country signed an Association Agreement with the EU, signifying a commitment to economic reforms in hopes of favorable trade deals with the bloc.
  7. Remarkably, the national poverty rate has dropped from 68 percent in 2000 to just 11.4 percent in 2014. These developments, coupled with an increase in tech startups and the potential for economic cooperation with the EU, bodes well for the country’s future.
  8. The education system in Moldova consists of a preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. Primary education is compulsory in Moldova. Primary school consists of grades one through four, and secondary school is divided into lower and upper education grades five through nine, and 10 through 12 respectively. With high school attendance rates, and a near 100 percent literacy rate, Moldova’s education system appears to be a very successful one.
  9. Pollution remains a concern in Moldova. Heavy industrialization during the Soviet regime resulted in improper disposal of waste. Moldova’s traditionally agrarian economy also results in groundwater pollution and fertilizer runoff into waterways.
  10. The country has a major public health issue. According to the Independent, Moldovans are the heaviest drinkers per capita in the world. The average Moldovan consumes 18.22 liters of pure alcohol per year, around three times the global average of 6.1. These rates of alcohol consumption likely contribute to the country’s relatively low life expectancy that are 67.4 years for males, and 75.4 for females.

Moldova is a country that finds itself in a dilemma between Russia and the European Union. This impacts the country’s economy and development. Due to this reason, young people are leaving the country in search of a better life and stable jobs. Government is recognizing this problem and has various initiatives that are intended for improving the living conditions in the country.

– Joseph Banish

Photo: Flickr

Top 10Facts about Living Conditions in Algeria
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa and one of the richest in terms of natural resources. The county’s complex history has forged a diverse and vibrant culture. Ever since gaining its independence from France in 1962, the government of the country has fought to improve life for its citizens by rebuilding the economy and improving the political climate. But what is life really like in the country? The article below answers this question by providing the top 10 facts about living conditions in Algeria.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Algeria

  1. From 2000 to 2016, unemployment in Algeria dropped drastically, from 29.8 to 10.2 percent in 2016. In 2017, the unemployment rate went back up to 11.7 percent. This is due in part to a decline of worldwide oil prices and its adverse consequences on the Algerian economy. In general, unemployment remains more prevalent among women and younger populations.
  2. Algeria cut poverty by 20 percent in the past two decades. This victory comes as a result of a booming economy and effective social policies. Nonetheless, 35 percent of the total population still lives below the poverty line. Around 170,000 people or about 0.5 percent of Algerians, are considered to be in extreme poverty. In addition, 10 percent of the population is at risk of slipping back into poverty.
  3. More than four-fifths of Algeria is covered by the Saharan desert, rendering water a scarce commodity. Nonetheless, 83.6 percent of the population has improved access to a clean water source. In urban areas, access to clean areas is even higher, reaching 84.3 percent, compared to 81.8 percent in rural areas.
  4. The Algerian government boasts a system of universal health care, allocating 7.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to health expenditures in 2014. However, rural areas continue to suffer from inadequate access to quality health care facilities. As of 2009, there were 1.2 physicians for every 1,000 people, a considerably low ratio. To combat this, Algeria plans to introduce 172 public hospitals and 377 private clinics within the coming decade.
  5. Algeria’s economy depends greatly on its hydrocarbon revenue. The country has the 10th largest reserves of natural gas on the planet. The oil sector accounts for 30 percent of GDP and 95 percent of earnings through export. These exports help Algeria keep external debt low and maintain a healthy economy. Recently, the decline of oil prices has forced the government to cut funding of public subsidies and provoked an increase in taxes on some imported goods.
  6. Agriculture is a strong contributor to Algeria’s national economy, boasting 20 percent of the labor force and 10 percent of GDP. Nonetheless, arable land (useful agricultural area) is scarce with only 8.7 million hectares available for use, or just under 3 percent of the total surface area. Sustainable development is threatened greatly by water scarcity. This has serious repercussions on Algeria’s food import dependency, rendering food security unstable.
  7. Huge disparities in wealth exist among Algeria’s rich and poor. A small minority control 42.6 percent of the country’s wealth, benefiting from quality health care and education. The impoverished 20 percent of the population control 7 percent of the wealth, struggling daily to provide food and clean water for themselves and their families.
  8. There are 2.66 children per woman in Algeria today on average, compared to seven children per woman in 1970. The drop in fertility rates is contributed mainly to women’s rising age at first marriage and education. Algeria’s current population is an estimated 40.5 million people.
  9. The Algerian government allocates 4.3 percent of its GDP to education. The overall literacy rate is 79.6 percent, as 86.1 percent of males and 73.9 percent of females are able to read and write. Family revenue plays a monumental role in access to quality education, meaning only a few have resources for private and international schools.
  10. Algerians have a strained relationship with their government, a result of poor management and corruption. In the past, this has been the cause of protests and clashes between police forces and Algerian citizens. Despite this, the government continues prioritizing its resources for enacting policies to improve living conditions. This includes developing regional security, unemployment, poverty and the economy.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Algeria detail the nation’s complex political climate and social issues. However, a desire to move toward a more positive future is evident in governmental decisions to enact policies for change. Investments into the health and education sectors, as well as drastic improvements in unemployment rates, are clear steps that the country is heading in the right direction.

– Natalie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions In Sweden
Located in northern Europe, Sweden has long been heralded by the international community as the embodiment of the Nordic Model– a projection of pragmatic socialism, a bastion of human rights and prosperity for all. But is the country really worthy of the laudatory praise? In the text below, this question will be answered by presenting the top 10 facts about living conditions in Sweden.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions In Sweden

  1. Sweden boasts a high Human Development Index (HDI) score of 0.93, placing the country in the seventh place in world rankings. The HDI aims to measure the overall quality of life in a country and is an aggregate figure comprised of life expectancy at birth, Gross National Income (GNI) and expected years of schooling. Sweden’s HDI is perhaps the best indicator of the overall quality of life and living conditions in the country.
  2. Sweden is geographically varied, which makes the seasons different depending on where you live in the country. Most people think of winter when they hear of Sweden, but because of the warm Gulf Stream, the climate in the country can be much milder than one might expect. The average temperature in Stockholm, country’s capital located in the southeast of the country, ranges from an average of 18 degrees Celsius in July to -3 degrees Celsius in January, low enough to have a dire effect on disenfranchised populations starved for satisfactory housing, heat, or suitable clothing.
  3. Though money cannot buy happiness, it does play a critical role in highlighting a countries’ living conditions. With a GDP per capita of $51,500 in 2017, Sweden ranks 26th in global rankings, behind the likes of the Netherlands, United States and Qatar. As a country, Sweden prides itself on its commitment to reducing economic inequality, reflected in its recent sixth-place ranking in Oxfam’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI). The Swedish government has transferred this good intention into tangible impacts, with Sweden ranking ninth out of the 34 OECD countries in respect to the prevalence of income inequality within the country, as measured by the GINI Coefficient, a leading measure of domestic wealth disparities.
  4. In terms of employment, 76 percent of people aged 15 to 64 in Sweden are currently employed in a paid position, above OECD average of 67 percent. Currently, 78 percent of men are employed and 75 percent of women, which is well above the international female labor force participation rate of 48 percent. Furthermore, only 1 percent of employees work very long hours, compared to the OECD average of 13 percent.
  5. Sweden’s education system is also ranked in the top 10 globally. Education budget amounted to 13.2 percent of total public expenditures, beating the OECD rate of 12.9 percent. Sweden’s school life expectancy, meaning how long the average student stays in school, is 16.1 years.
  6. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the monarch is the head of state but exerts no political power. The country’s constitution dates back to 1809 and was later revised in 1975. It is based on four fundamental laws: the Riksdag Act, the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, and the Freedom of the Press Act. The country’s’ current Prime Minister is Stefan Lofven. His Excellency King Carl XVI Gustaf is the reigning monarch.
  7. Sweden received a perfect 100 aggregate score by Freedom House in its annual 2018 Freedom in the World rankings, being labeled, unsurprisingly, as “free.” For comparison, the U.S. earned a score of 86, placing it 53rd globally, just three ahead of Ghana and Panama.
  8. Sweden’s life expectancy in 2017 was pegged at 82.4 years, good enough for ninth overall in the world. Sweden’s health care system was recently ranked third in the world. Sweden’s universal health care system is importantly decentralized and largely tax-funded, a system that ensures everyone has equal access to health care services.
  9. Today, 1.33 million people, or roughly 14.3 percent of Sweden’s population, are foreign-born. However, Sweden hasn’t always been as diverse as it is today. In the 1900s, for example, only 0.7 percent of the countries roughly 5 million inhabitants were foreign-born. This relatively sudden and palpable demographic change, from a largely white, Christian and homogenous society to a more religiously, culturally and ethnically diverse one has become a topic of heated debate within the country.
  10. In recent years, Sweden’s reputation as a safe, peaceful country has fallen increasingly under threat. Gang-related crime in Sweden is rising, and for many on the right, it is being used as a case study about how migration policy can go horribly wrong. As aforementioned, in 2016, Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other nation. Around the same time, violent gang crime has gone up.

As becomes quickly apparent from the article above, Sweden ranks near the top globally in a variety of crucial aspects that help to piece together a thorough picture of living conditions in the country, from its heavily-funded education and health care system to its commitment to upholding democracy, human rights and thwarting income inequality. Nonetheless, significant social strains continue to threaten the country. Sweden’s large refugee intake and changing demography, for example, has been met with a harsh reprimand by some and a rise in crime. If the country fails to address these major issues, its pristine standing in the international communities may be threatened.

– William Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Macedonia
Macedonia is a small country, only slightly larger than the state of Vermont, located in Southeastern Europe, Balkan to be precise. Often overlooked by major world powers, Macedonia has a population of only 2.07 million but boats a rich and ancient history, similar to that of Greece. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Macedonia are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Macedonia

  1. Macedonia’s population includes a large minority of Romani people, also known as Roma or Gypsies. The Roma often face discrimination and underrepresentation and are often unable to get public sector positions. In 1994, the Macedonian government included the Roma language in its census, and in 1996, four primary schools included the Roma language in their curriculum. Roma representation in government improved by 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent from 2000 to 2010. After a demonstration on the streets of Skopje, the country’s capital, there are now more than 500 Roma students in universities and 50-60 young adults with a college degree.
  2. Almost 15 percent of Macedonia’s population, mostly Roman, lives without legal homes, which means that they do not have access to basic services, such as water or electricity, or even an official ID. Without an ID, these people cannot get insurance, social protection or immunization. Local organizations such as Roma SOS partner with nonprofit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to help people get micro-loans and understand the legalization process.
  3. Since Macedonia gained its independence in 1991, there has been a debate with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia. In January 2019, the Macedonian parliament has approved the name change to North Macedonia and are awaiting the vote of the Greek parliament to make the name official. This name change will bring the country closer to membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As a member of NATO, Macedonia would have assured security and further resources to improve the lives of their citizens.
  4. Five percent of Macedonian children are not attending primary school and 32 percent are not attending secondary school. Poverty often affects children’s school attendance. Thirteen percent of children in the poorest quintile do not attend primary school, compared to almost no such cases in the richest quintile. The gap increases for secondary school as 64 percent of children in the poorest quintile do not attend them, compared to only 7 percent of children in the richest quintile. However, the completion rate for primary school is high, at 74 percent, with a 98 percent transition rate to lower secondary school.
  5. In 1996, Macedonia introduced Continuous Medical Education (CME) that creates health care guidelines and equips facilities. Currently, every citizen has access to primary care through the state. However, those living illegally would not have a state issued ID, thus no state health care. The state health care system that takes taxes from all people working and living in Macedonia, provides free preventive, diagnostic and curative medical services. This includes hospitalization and consultation with specialists and doctors. The private health care system is often too expensive for the average citizen, though it can provide better or quicker treatment and more medical options.
  6. The leading causes of death in Macedonia are circulatory diseases, that made up 57 percent of all deaths in 2004, malignant neoplasm, injuries/poisoning, respiratory diseases and diseases of the endocrine system. Macedonia’s average total life expectancy is five years less than that of countries in the EU and Macedonia’s healthy life expectancy is almost eight years behind that of Greece. These differences stem from a higher rate of cardiovascular diseases caused by high tobacco use, and uncontrolled hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.
  7. Unemployment in Macedonia is at its all-time lowest, dropping from 21.1 percent in June 2018 to 20.8 percent at the end of 2018. In comparison, unemployment in Greece was at 20.20 percent in April 2018. The average monthly wage for a Macedonian worker is $667.55. While Macedonia lags behind many of the U.N. countries, the country has improved in this field since the lowest monthly wage recorded was $370.96.
  8. In 2015, 21.5 percent of Macedonian citizens were living below the poverty line which put Macedonia in 80th place in a ranking of 139 countries. Families with five or more members, or almost 48.5 percent of Macedonians, are most affected by poverty. However, Macedonia has made progress with its market economy, and as the unemployment rate lowered, it pulled the poverty level from around 31 percent in 2011 to its current rate.
  9. Food and water supply in Macedonia is relatively good, as only 4 percent of the population struggles with undernourishment and 83 percent of the drinking water supply is considered safely managed. Agriculture accounts for 13 percent of the GDP in Macedonia. The government owns most of the pastures and farmland, manages and improves them through the Law on Pastures that regulates carrying capacity, drinking pools, construction of shelters, clearing of vegetation and more.
  10. In 2011, 1.8 percent of children were under the proper weight for their height, while 4.9 percent of children were under the proper height for their age and 12.4 percent of children were overweight. The Global Nutrition Report states that Macedonia experiences two main forms of malnutrition– overweight and anemia. About 23 percent of women suffer from anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells in the body. Though these issues exist, Macedonia has made progress to lower the overall undernourishment from 8 percent of the population to 4 percent.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Macedonia show that while the country faces many struggles with ethnic relations and political issues, it has also made significant progress within the last decade with improvements to health care and the economy. Macedonia has resolved its long-lasting name dispute with Greece and it is on the right track of joining NATO and EU, which will benefit all citizens of the nation.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Côte d'Ivoire
The Côte d’Ivoire is just one of those numerous developing countries that, though undoubtedly facing problems, is unfairly regarded by most people. Indeed, peeling back the poverty statistics and tear-jerking photographs, one finds a portrait of a people rich in shared determination towards building a better future. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Côte d’Ivoire and the everyday struggles of the people of the country, are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Côte d’Ivoire

  1. Hunger has become a real problem in Côte d’Ivoire after post-election violence disrupted cyclical planting and regular harvesting times for farmers. With so much of the population suffering from food insecurity, it is just as unsurprising as it is regrettable that the country received a Global Hunger Index Score with the score of just 25.7 out of 100.
  2. In addition to the various initiatives of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, organizations like the World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger have provided food for a combined one million Ivorians. The positive forward momentum is strong but gradual.
  3. Poverty in Côte d’Ivoire has led to the prevalence of substandard housing that further led to an increase in diseases as poorly constructed lodgings have granted malarial mosquitoes and similar infectious-insects easy opportunities to spread illness. Most families live in traditional homes made of mud walls and thatch roofs. However, local Habitat for Humanity office has succeeded in helping to break that deadly cycle. Since setting out on their mission 20 years ago to provide safe and secure homes with decent sanitation to the poor, their team of almost 10,000 volunteers have built or repaired over 6,000 homes, as well as provide around 10,500 local people with additional sanitation.
  4. The education problem in Côte d’Ivoire is reflected by one powerful statistic: in 2007, nearly one in two children did not attend primary school. Public schooling is both painfully underfunded and frustratingly overcrowded, owing to previous civil conflicts that shattered the national economy, and with it, the chance at a solid educational infrastructure.
  5. Through the concerted efforts of the UNICEF and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, over two-thirds of children now attend primary school. Their accomplishments range from improving up to 200 schools with better furniture and more extracurricular activities, to a four-year national development plan to make the push for education a priority.
  6. The Tai Rainforest is one of the last primary rainforest left in West Africa and it is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, including the endangered pygmy hippo, chimpanzee and leopard. But similar to such defining features of Côte d’Ivoire, its teeming, verdurous rainforests have also become one of its most vulnerable, regularly encroached upon and deforested by ambitious cocoa farmers. As country relies primarily on cocoa for its economy and is the world’s largest cocoa exporter, serious concerns surround the remaining, protected 4 percent of the rainforests as illegal farmers continue to make moves.
  7. The government has worked with large chocolate companies to help stop the farming of protected land, but faces economical and ethical dilemmas as 40 percent of cocoa farms are estimated to be on such protected territory, and ending them would land a big punch to the country’s economy. Additionally, most farmers are poor and use the farm to support themselves and their families. One bill proposes legalizing cocoa plantations in reserves, which would create a place where new trees are planted while farmers continue to grow cocoa, dubbed as “protected agroforests” and is hoping to be footed soon.
  8. In 2011, when the Second Ivorian Civil War broke out, forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, battled against supporters of the internationally recognized president-elect, Alassane Ouattara. While Ouattara’s forces were victorious in the end, horrific human rights violations were reported on both sides. As a result, tensions between supporters of the two camps have increased ever since. Going into the new elections in 2020, Ivorians are hoping that the tension doesn’t lead the country into a new crisis. Nevertheless, Ouattara maintains that the 2020 elections will “take place in excellent conditions”.
  9. The standard of Côte d’Ivoire health care and health facilities is poor, especially in areas outside of the major cities and this problem is in no small part exacerbated by the previous abolishment of free public health care by the government in response to the political upheaval. At the start of 2015, Ivorians got their health care back, but endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria still run rampant. As the HIV/AIDS problem is largely attributed to the lack of sexual education, UNICEF stresses the importance of information and awareness related activities when educating youngsters. So far, hundreds of thousands of kids have been educated and sensitized.
  10. One of the Côte d’Ivoire’s most endearing traditions is the Festival of Masks, held each December in the city of Man. In this well-known “fête”, competitions are held between villages to find the best dancer and homages are paid to the forest spirits that are represented on their decorated masks. In a politically divided country, Festival of Masks has helped to unify a people who are occasionally at odds with each other. Indeed, after suffering from two civil wars within the last 20 years, Côte d’Ivoire has been an at-times hotbed of political turmoil.

In conclusion, Côte d’Ivoire has its problems, but just as the country is experiencing them, innovative ways and solutions exist side-by-side. Hunger, poverty, disease, political strife and other discouraging statistics that the Ivorians are facing have not stopped the country’s improvements in many fields and various organizations are there making sure that the grim realities do not stop the citizens from sparking breathtaking change.

– William Cozens
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Singapore
The Republic of Singapore is an island city-state located off of Southern Malaysia with a global financial center in a tropical climate and a multicultural population. As a developed nation, Singapore has been experiencing exceptional growth in its life expectancy, that is, due to its government’s commitment to health and the care of the elderly population, one of the largest in the world. In the article below, 10 facts about living expectancy in Singapore are presented.

10 Facts About Living Expectancy in Singapore

  1. Singapore, with a population of 5.88 million people, is ranked 3rd in the world in life expectancy with an average lifespan of 83.1. The country is only behind Switzerland and Japan that have expected lifespans of 83.4 and 83.7 years, respectively. The country ranking has steadily raised an average of 0.2 every year since 2000 and by 0.1 every year since 2010.
  2. In healthy life expectancy, the statistics that refers to the number of years people live in full health, Singapore is ranked 2nd in the world at 73.9, behind only Japan at 74.9. As of 1990, the country earned a ranking of “good” by WHO in full health category.
  3. Women have a higher life expectancy than men, as they are expected to live until 85.2 years, while men are expected to live up to 80.7 years. In comparison to other countries, the women’s ranking is 2nd in the world, while the men’s ranking is 10th in the world. Life expectancy for the country, in total, is 83.1 years.
  4. Part of the reason that the Republic of Singapore has been able to establish itself as such a dominant force in life expectancy and health is the country’s expenditure on research and development in health and medical sciences as a percentage of the GDP, which is second only to South Korea. Advancements in health care and medical technology, as well as improved living conditions and better nutrition, access to sanitation and reduced risk of epidemic infectious diseases, are all benefitting the population of the country.
  5. Singapore is ranked at the first place globally in terms of the proportion of births that are attended by skilled health personnel. The infant mortality rate is down to 2.2 percent in the country. The fertility rate is 1.2 and the crude birth rate is 9.4 percent.
  6. Singapore is third globally for the lowest road traffic mortality rate and fourth in deaths related to air pollution. The country has the lowest mortality rate for cardiovascular or chronic respiratory diseases and the ones that are attributed to unsafe water or lack of hygiene.
  7. As it relates to common health risk factors, Singapore boasts good ratings in these categories as well. Its people drink an average of 2.0 liters of alcohol per year, ranking them 145th in the world. Out of the total number of men in Singapore, 28 percent of them smoke, which gives them a rank of 81 in the world, while 5 percent of women smoke, giving them a ranking of 82. Only 5.8 percent of men are obese in Singapore, ranking the country in 139th place worldwide, while the women are at 6.3 percent (182nd). Their overall happiness score is 6.34 or 33rd on a global level.
  8. Singapore has started to promote frequent check-ups to help detect illnesses early and raise awareness of preventive medicine to help its population as they continue to age. With the support of this community, seniors are leading more active and productive lives, keeping in mind the value of being busy and working longer.
  9. Studies have shown that societies with a large senior population volunteer more and value connecting with their communities. They have the time and the inclination to be deeply engaged in their communities and seniors find that it keeps them young and active. Governments could create opportunities for the elderly to contribute. Singapore’s elderly have started at home, helping with child care, and have been branching out into society ever since. They are finding that this helps strengthen the intergenerational bonds while keeping them mentally active.
  10. Singapore’s government found that people are not starting to save early enough for retirement and that they need more assistance in financial and retirement planning. Now that they are living longer, they need clear financial adequacy tools to help people address such questions. They also found that older people need to focus on eating balanced diets and regular fitness while staying busy and mentally active so that they can live full lives as they continue to live longer.

Large contributions to the 10 facts about life expectancy in Singapore are the health system and how important health issues are addressed. With the intense focus has been put on making the lives of the country’s citizens better, life expectancy is only getting longer and elderly citizens must now learn how to finance their retirement to provide for themselves longer. The government is taking steps to help its aging population deal with their new reality by stressing the importance of mental and physical activity.

– Michela Rahaim

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Kosovo
Kosovo is a small, partially recognized country located in Balkan that has existed since its separation from Serbia in 2008. Despite being a young and still developing nation, it is rich in culture from its diverse populace. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Kosovo are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Kosovo

  1. Kosovo’s citizens are the second poorest in Europe. The country suffers an unemployment rate of 33 percent and youth unemployment near 60 percent.
  2. Around 45 percent of Kosovo’s population live below the poverty line, with 15 percent living in extreme poverty. Most of the population lives in rural areas, living on small plots with limited industrial tools. This leads to much of the country’s citizens being forced to live on near-subsistence farming.
  3. The country does not have enough doctors. Kosovo started new health care reform in 2010. These include universal, the state ran health insurance with a network of family health centers. The latest reports found 2,664 doctors in the program with an additional 1,457 doctors in the private sector. This totals 2.2 medical doctors per 1,000 citizens, far below the European average of 3.4.
  4. Personal hygiene is a huge problem in the country. Massive inequalities exist in the lower economic classes of the country in access to hygiene and sanitation. Lack of electricity exists for only 0.1 percent of university-educated people and 10 percent of people without an education. Meanwhile, lack of personal bathrooms are reported in large numbers and are usually divided by ethnic lines (0.3 percent of Albanian households compared to 20.2 percent of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian ethnicity households).
  5. Ethnic minorities face many legal barriers that compound their hardships. Minorities such as Roma, Ashkali and Balkan Egyptians suffer problems in obtaining personal documents needed to access health care, social assistance and education. This hinders these citizens from obtaining many of the programs designed to help low-income citizens, further trapping them in the vicious cycle of poverty.
  6. Many women face domestic violence as around 68 percent of women in Kosovo report having experienced domestic violence. This is due to a few and inadequate police and prosecutors responses. The government, however, has created a new National Strategy and Action Plan against Domestic Violence to fight against these crimes.
  7. People with diseases and injuries are at greater risk for inadequate homes, water and income. Inadequate housing is reported by 11.6 percent of those with diseases or injuries and inadequate water by 7.4 percent. Even more citizens in this situation, however, face problems with affordable conditions: 26.6 percent of citizens with health-related outcomes report inadequate affordability conditions.
  8. Kosovo’s courts are packed and overloaded. The latest reports from the International Monetary Fund showed the courts had 264,193 pending cases and a backlog of inventories ranging from 25.7 to 71.7 percent in different cases. They have 29 percent of their judicial positions filled and only five specialized judges in the lower court and only one in the appellate court. These statistics show a slow and inefficient court, hindering the legal action of citizens in the country.
  9. Kosovo is a fairly safe country. Kosovo has a crime index of 33.37. The same index is 37.27 in Serbia, 39.29 in Macedonia, 40.3 in Albania and 40.48 in Montenegro, all neighboring countries of Kosovo. In 2017, 72 citizens have been convicted of murder related crimes and 218 were convicted of robbery-related crimes in a country of 1.8 million people.
  10. There is not enough housing in the country as 21.5 percent of households report having two or more people per room in the house, and 28.7 percent have between 1.5 and 2 people per room. The United Nations had long been at work to address this problem, specifically in Prishtina. The project started in 2015 and in on-going.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Kosovo are meant to highlight the problems that urgently need to be addressed in the country. Despite the problems presented in the text above and other problems facing the country, many laws and initiatives are in the works to alleviate citizens’ poor situation. Both international and local programs are currently working to improve conditions in the country, so far successfully. This, combined with a seemingly stable economy, provides a hopeful future for the citizens of Kosovo.

– Zachary Sparks
Photo: Flickr