10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya
Between Egypt and Algeria in the northeastern corner of Africa lies Libya, a large desert nation consisting of roughly 6.5 million people. Since 2011, a violent and chaotic civil war has plagued this North African nation and many aspects of Libya’s society are in shambles.

A former colony of Italy, Libya gained independence in the years following the Second World War. In 1969, rebel leader Muammar Gaddafi assumed power, using oil exports to fund an extremely repressive and prosperous regime. Decades later, as Arab Spring protests swept through North Africa, Gaddafi’s grip on power fell and the country descended into civil war. Because Libya’s quality of life is often stunted by the rampant chaos within the country, the following 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya unpack the economic, societal and cultural issues brought on by the conflict.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya

  1. Libya’s total life expectancy is at 71.9 years, 75 for women and 69 for men. The WHO ranks Libya 104th in overall life expectancy, although the chaos within the country often prevents humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations from collecting accurate data.
  2. Despite decades of human rights violations, Gaddafi’s regime upheld one of the more comprehensive and effective health care systems in the Arab World. Funded by oil exports, the government offered free, quality health care to all citizens. Although the conflict has destroyed much of Libya’s infrastructure, remnants of Gaddafi’s health care system are still present today.
  3. The biggest hindrance to improving Libya’s life expectancy is the civil war. The WHO estimates that 1.2 million people are suffering from food insecurity as a result of the conflict and more than 650,000 have unreliable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Roughly 30,000 people have suffered from conflict-related injuries and a sharp rise in gendered violence has severely affected communities across the country. For the elderly, sick and young people of Libya, the long list of hardships brought on by the conflict has complicated an already difficult life.
  4. The conflict has devastated much of Libya’s once flourishing health care system, most notably in the urban centers of Tripoli, Sirte and the rural south. In one year, the U.N. reported 36 attacks on medical facilities and personnel, though many suspect the actual number is higher. Seventeen hospitals have been closed, while only four of Libya’s 97 health care facilities are functioning above 80 percent of their normal capacity. The remaining hospitals are overcrowded, struggling to perform basic procedures as medicines and supplies are often depleted and many health care providers have fled the country.
  5. With up to nine factions fighting within the country, Libya’s official U.N.-backed government has little control outside of Tripoli and Sirte. Therefore, public health and awareness campaigns have been largely absent as the WHO reports that 75 percent of Libya’s public health facilities have shut down. Prior to the start of the conflict, HIV/AIDS rates in Libya were relatively low. However, the lack of public health efforts, compiled with increases of rape and gendered violence have resulted in a higher prevalence of the virus.
  6. Nearly 64 percent of Libyans are either overweight or obese. The study also found that the diet of most Libyans that was already lacking in fruits and vegetables has been heavily influenced by Western food practices. In the past decade, the burger has become a staple in Benghazi cuisine.
  7. Libya is Africa’s largest importer of rolled tobacco and each year roughly 3,500 Libyans die from tobacco-related causes. Though the war has crippled Libya’s tobacco industry, cigarette consumption rates are expected to rise by 25 percent in the coming decade. This could have a significant impact on Libya’s life expectancy as there is a clear correlation between high smoking rates and decreased national life expectancy.
  8. Because Libya’s state-run health care is largely ineffective, organizations like the WHO provide essential medical services. Partnering with a number of Libyan hospitals, the WHO has provided $1.4 million worth of drugs and medical supplies, reviewed 10 Libyan hospitals and upgraded the country’s disease surveillance system. As recently as January 15th, the WHO offered a workshop on noncommunicable diseases, attended by 30 nurses.
  9. Libya and Egypt recently began a cross border partnership monitoring diseases and issuing vaccinations. Facilitated by the WHO, the partnership has made important treatments, including the poliovirus vaccine, available to Libyans and has helped curb outbreaks in the rural Western regions. Since the initiative, no cases of polio, neonatal tetanus, or yellow fever have been reported.
  10. Despite the long list of issues, Libya’s life expectancy is relatively high considering the violence and chaos within its borders. When compared to Yemen (65.3), Afghanistan (62.7), Iraq (69.8), Syria (63.8) and Somalia (55.4), areas currently experiencing some of the most intense conflicts in the world, Libya’s life expectancy is the highest at 71.9.

Most of these 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya revolve around the current civil war that is the main roadblocks in improving the country’s life expectancy. The current government is unable to provide consistent health care, food, water, electricity and other basic rights to Libyans, threatening the lives of the country’s most vulnerable.

After almost eight years of conflict, tensions may be cooling as rival factions met recently in Benghazi to discuss a possible ceasefire. If these recent peace talks prove to be successful, the resource-rich country could become a fully functioning state once again. Yet, Libya still has a long uphill climb, and nongovernmental organizations and foreign aid will still be an integral part of the country’s development.

– Kyle Dunphey

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Senegal
In the transition from a French colony to an independent nation, Senegal has made substantial progress in regards to improving the living standard of its people. As one of the most politically stable nations in Africa, there has been greater space in the political arena to focus on development. Despite the political stability and continual growth of the economy, there are still key aspects and dimensions in the life of Senegalese people life that can be improved. In the article below, the top 10 facts about the living conditions in Senegal are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Senegal

  1. Senegal’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, as the sector contributes to approximately 15 percent of GDP and 77 of the workforce. Many initiatives to address development in Senegal, such as youth employment, empowerment of women and stability of rural communities are centered around agricultural developments.
  2. Women in Senegal perform 70 percent of the agricultural work, doing predominately manual labor because mechanical agricultural equipment used contemporarily is unavailable to rural communities. Organizations such as the Italian Development Cooperation Agency have trained women in modern technologies and practices, hoping this knowledge will empower women in their communities to teach and be given greater entrepreneurial autonomy over the land and yield.
  3. Climate change is drastically altering the yield and land each season which impacts the food and employment security of the Senegalese peoples. The Senegal Food and Livelihoods Enhancement Initiative (SFLEI) by the World Vision organization is implementing farmer-managed natural regeneration to address degraded soils, erosion and increase farmland fertility.
  4. Senegal has one of the highest electricity access rates, about 64 percent overall. The development of a centralized energy grid could provide more profuse access in the rural communities, but that is a cost-intensive endeavor for the nation. Solar and hydropower would be the most effective renewable sources for the country.
  5. NoPiwouma is the Senegalese offshoot of MeToo movement. It translates from Wolof to: “I will not shut up.” Due to the work of two women, Ndambaw Kama Thiat and Olivia Codouhe, Senegal is slowly beginning the conversation around sexual assault and harassment. The Google form these women created and Thiat’s blog are spaces that allow for women, traditionally suppressed by ideas of familial reputation, to tell of their experiences. Unlike the legal and economic aspects of the MeToo movement in the U.S., the mission of NoPiwouma is breaking the cultural boundaries of silence and submission.
  6. Hip-hop and rap is a medium that confronts Senegalese reality, recounts profound experiences of hardship and calls for actions of change. In Senegal, a 95 percent Muslim country, pervasive division of labor, societal roles and religious norms still exist. Rapping and involvement in this artistic movement allow for an honest, raw, politically charged reflection of these social values. Africulturban, a local youth organization, began a project for formerly incarcerated youth, encouraging access to the arts as an outlet for their stories and a space for stigmas in urban life to be discussed and molded.
  7. More than 60 percent of Senegal’s population is under the age of 25. A critique of many nations is the disengagement of the youth in politics, but the government of Senegal actively continues to try and engage this demographic through initiatives such as Plan of Action for Youth that aims to create coordinated policies through the National Youth Council of Senegal that integrate the youth in decision making and implementation of policies regarding education, employment, culture and health.
  8. Education in Senegal is free and compulsory until the age of 16. In 2000, primary school enrollment was 69.3 percent, and in 2009, it was 84 percent. While the percentage of Senegalese youth attending school is particularly high, there are various aspects that direly need improvement such as the material goods needed for modern education. USAID is working to improve education in Senegal by providing internet access to more rural locations, textbooks for each grade level and renovating schools.
  9. Senegal practices some of the best methods of combating HIV and AIDS. One of the first initiatives that the country enacted was the elimination of an excise tax that made condoms unaffordable, in conjunction with an education initiative to emphasize the importance of safe sexual practices. The religious community took action too, as AIDS became a regular topic in Friday sermons in mosques and religious figures addressed the issue on television and radio. Of the adult population between ages 15 and 49, 0.4 percent suffer from AIDS, indicating positive results from government and religious efforts.
  10. Senegal possesses one of the most developed water infrastructures on the African continent, but due to its location in sub-Saharan Africa, sustained and equal access to water is a challenge. There exists inequality in access and a disparity in the quality of water transportation systems. In 2010, the government and the World Bank began the Water and Sanitation Millennium Program that benefited 654,520 people in five years. Based on this success, the project was renewed for the period 2015-2020.
With Senegal showing and remaining dedicated to progress, the outlook for poverty reduction in the country is hopeful. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Senegal highlight the current situation in the country and are meant to give the face to the burgeoning development happening contemporarily in the country.

– Natalie Gates
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy among Italians is close to being the best in Europe and the country arguably has one of the best life expectancy ratings in the world. This is somewhat surprising, having in mind recent economic troubles in Italy that have seen cuts in government funding of health care as well as less disposable income that individuals can use for their health care needs. Hopefully, 10 facts about life expectancy in Italy described below will shed much-needed light on the life of the people in this Mediterranean nation.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Italy

  1. In 2013, the BBC reported that the average life expectancy for Italians was 81.5 years. This rate was among the highest in Europe. More specially, this life expectancy estimate placed Italy in second place in terms of average life expectancy.
  2. This report placed Italy’s life expectancy rate above those of France, Germany and Sweden, all of which are considered very “healthy nations” when comparing life expectancy rates.
  3. However, life expectancy has decreased in Italy recently. Women’s life expectancy has decreased by 0.4 in recent years and men’s decreased by 0.2 in 2017.
  4. Researchers are unclear as to what has brought on the recent decline in life expectancy in the country. Some of the leading hypotheses include lifestyle choices, lack of screening for preventable diseases and lack of access to adequate health care.
  5. In June 2018, the report was released by the Italian Department of Labor and Industry estimated that 5.1 million Italians are living in absolute poverty. That is 8.4 percent of Italy’s total population. The number of Italians living in relative poverty is estimated at 9.4 million, or roughly 15.6 percent of the total population.
  6. The sheer number of Italians living at or below the poverty line could contribute to the recent decrease in life expectancy rates. Unsurprisingly, if individuals are struggling to make ends meet, they may not have enough disposable income for routine medical check-ups, physicals, or preventative tests and screenings.
  7. As a general rule, poverty tends to force people to make less-healthy lifestyle choices, especially regarding food. For example, if people are struggling to pay for groceries or are trying to make their money go as far as possible, they tend to focus on buying the cheaper, unhealthier processed foods. This food is more likely to cause obesity and obesity-related health problems in the country, but in general as well.
  8. Most facts about life expectancy in Italy are positive. In the more industrious northern part of the country, life expectancy has been on the rise. This is probably due to the fact this part of Italy is more economically developed, with a richer general population that can take-on potential medical costs. The average life expectancy in northern Italy is 83 years, compared to only 80 years in southern Italy.
  9. There is little evidence to show that Italians will be deviating from their Mediterranean diet any time soon. This is particularly good news for Italy, considering that the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. Eating plenty of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and cooking with olive oil could explain the high life expectancy rate in Italy.
  10. The number of centenarians, or people that are over the age of 100, has tripled in Italy over the last 15 years. Out of the total number of centenarians, 83 percent are women.

When it comes to discussing life expectancy in Italy, we should consult the oldest living person in the world that lives in this country. While Italy may have issues to address if it wants to see it’s life expectancy rates increase, special attention must be given to the life choices of Emma Morano, oldest living person in the world at 117 years. Leaving genetics out of the equation, Emma watches her diet while remaining active, watches her stress levels and enjoys time with friends and family. With this advice, we could all be a little happier, and potentially live longer and more rewarding lives.

– Raymond Terry
Photo: Pixabay

China’s life expectancy has increased dramatically since 1990. The life expectancy in the country in the 1990s was more similar to that of the developing world, but recently, it resembles that of a high-income nation. China has managed to reduce its burden of disease in the last few decades and has increased its child mortality rate and maternal health dramatically. In the text below, top 10 facts about life expectancy in China are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in China

  1. Newborns from the United States can expect to have a longer lifespan than Chinese newborns. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that Chinese newborns have a healthier life expectancy and that, in the last 10 years of a life of U.S. citizens, health declines steadily. Chinese citizens can expect to live 68.7 healthy years, compared with 68.5 healthy years for U.S. citizens.
  2. China has the potential to lift its life expectancy by three years. This is only possible, however, if the country lowers its smog levels to WHO standards. China has taken strides towards reducing their air pollution and has vowed to reduce the impact of its air pollution in order to raise life expectancy to 79 years 2030.
  3. China has raised its life expectancy from 69.3 years in 1990 to 76.1 years in 2015. The leading factors for this substantial rise is the improvement in China’s child mortality rate and their maternal health. Child deaths due to lower respiratory infections and diarrhea have decreased by 90 percent since 1990.
  4. Tuberculosis (TB) is a major burden for China. The country has over a million new cases each year, more than any country except India.
  5. China carries 10 percent of the global burden of tuberculosis and the presence of drug-resistant TB makes battling the disease that much more difficult.
  6. China faces around 1.6 million premature deaths due to smog and air pollution. This poisonous air pollution is a combination of factories that emit dangerous particles, car pollutants and urban traffic, and indoor pollution in rural areas. Although the country has cut down on their air pollution, some fear that the damage has already affected adults and will continue to affect the vulnerable immune systems of the elderly citizens.
  7. China has made strides in reducing the cases of tuberculosis. TB incidence rate in the country has been declining by 3.4 percent every year since 1990. This rapid decline is due to government implemented programs that focus on the prevention and control of TB.
  8. Some researches show that there was an 11.2 percent difference in income inequality in the country. This kind of inequality can lead to varying life expectancies in different areas of China. It also means that each region faces different kinds of health problems. While one has eradicated an infectious and fatal disease, another may be still suffering under the burden of it.
  9. Tobaccos are one of the highest risk factors in the country. Chinese women use tobacco at an extremely low rate, but a majority of Chinese men smoke regularly and the exposure to secondhand smoke in the country is 72 percent. It has been discovered that there has been a 30 percent rise in tobacco-related deaths in the country since 1990.
  10. As China has reduced the burden of disease, child mortality and maternal health, new problems have arisen. These problems are non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These are chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy. They cannot be passed on from one person to another, but have a great impact on a person’s quality and length of life. There are 15 million annual deaths attributed to NCDs in the country and 85 percent of those occur in low or middle-income countries.

China has made great strides in its mission to increase life expectancy and quality of life. However, the country still faces issues such as inequality, air pollution, tuberculosis and NCDs. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in China provide hope for an ever-increasing life expectancy in a nation that has risen out of poverty and ill-health.

– Olivia Halliburton

Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Lithuania
Lithuania is a country of the rich history that dates as back as in the 1200s. It is home to lush forests, majestic glacial valleys and pristine rivers that flow from mainland Europe to the Baltic Sea. While the country still lags behind its fellow EU members economically, in the decade and a half since the country entered the European Union Lithuania has made a great stride in improving the quality of life for its citizens. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Lithuania will illustrate a place of progress and growth in the country and, most importantly, reasons for optimism.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Lithuania

  1. The future looks bright for the country. Surveys show that 63 percent of Lithuanians are optimistic about their own future, and 69 percent are confident about their children’s or grandchildren’s future. While most responders still found it difficult to make ends meet, they were more confident that they could do so than they were in years prior.
  2. Unemployment has decreased. In 2010, the effects of recession could be seen in the country as unemployment reached almost 18 percent. With improvements to the economy that number has almost been cut in half, as the unemployment rate was around 9.2 percent in 2017.
  3. More people feel in control of their lives in the country. While many people are still ambivalent, since 2011, the number of Lithuanians that see themselves as in-charge of their lives has grown. As of 2016, 28 percent strongly believe they “are free to decide how they live.”
  4. GDP per capita has almost doubled. Over the past 12 years, the country’s economy has grown significantly, from $7,800 to $14,380 and this has significantly shifted the standard of living in the country.
  5. The economy is shifting. Now growing towards a service economy, like many other developed countries, fewer and fewer people are earning a living in the agricultural and industrial sectors. With an increase in service work, more Lithuanians can choose to earn a living in a safer, more comfortable occupations.
  6. Inequality is increasing. Lithuania’s GINI Index, the extent to which the distribution of income within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution, stands at 37,  somewhat unequal, the same as its 2004 rating. For many years, inequality was on the decline, bottoming out at 32.5. Unfortunately, recent trends show inequality on the rise “washing away” progress, a cycle that has happened before.
  7. Hunger is not a major concern. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a measure of hunger that charts undernourishment and waste around the world. Lithuania has a low level of hunger and is one of 15 countries with a GHI score of less than 5. While not prevalent, stunted growth (due to hunger) affects 6 percent of Lithuanian children.
  8. Anemia is still a problem. Characterized by fatigue, weakness and dizziness, this iron deficiency affects almost 25 percent of Lithuanian women, making it a top health issue for the country.
  9. Doctors are more available than ever. Around 20 years ago, the health care system was very poorly organized and largely misunderstood. With a weak referral system, most patients would immediately visit a specialist for routine and often unrelated problems. Recent reforms have improved patient understanding of their own needs and improved the role of general physicians in medicine, resulting in a 45 percent increase in doctor availability nationwide.
  10. Infant mortality is dropping. As part of the overall improvements in health care services, virtually all childbirths are attended to by a skilled physician. Since 2005, the infant mortality rate has dropped by 43 percent.

While Lithuania may never reach the same standard of living as more developed Western Europe countries, the country has many things to look forward to. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Lithuania show that people in the country are optimistic about their outlook and they have a lot of reasons to be.

– John Glade
Photo: Pixabay

top 10 facts about living conditions in Belgium
The small country of Belgium is bordering with France, Germany, Netherlands and Luxemburg. This culturally diverse and overpopulated country has largely been shaped by the immigrants drawn to its border. What is attracting people to the uniquely progressive country of Belgium and why are they sticking around? In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Belgium, that will try to answer these and other questions are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Belgium

  1. Belgium has a considerably dense population compared to its small land mass. Belgium is said to be home to 11.5 million people, according to its latest census back in 2015. With 942 people per square mile, the country ranks as the 33rd most densely populated country in the world.
  2. In addition to its high population, Belgium also has one of the biggest tax rates in the world. In 2014, the average worker in Belgium paid 42 percent of his or her yearly earnings back to the government. The money collected from taxes is used to fund government programs and resources like social security.
  3. The country has a great transportation system. Given the high population in the country, the government has invested in a healthy transportation system including highways, waterways and roads that are used to transport goods in and out of Western Europe. Travel is also easy for citizens with its railways and metro public transportation systems.
  4. Belgium’s growing population and modern nuances have given rise to a serious air pollution problem. According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Belgium has second-worst environmental protection in Europe. In 2012, the European Environment Agency reported 11,770 deaths caused by the adverse effects of air pollution in Belgium.
  5. Belgium has mandatory health care that can be issued by the state or by private sector. Similar to the U.S. system, Belgians can select their own providers and pay low upfront costs while insurance covers a large percentage of the rest. Payment is based on the person’s income with a portion of 7.35 percent of gross income being deducted from the employer and the other part deducted from the salary itself.
  6. Belgium has what is known as a compulsory education system that means that no public institution can charge money for school up until the age of 18. Public education is completely free and covered by government funds. The system is so beneficial that private schools don’t even exist in some areas and in adults aged from 25 to 60, around 75 percent have finished some form of secondary education.
  7. Belgium is one of the few countries in the world that has a compulsory voting system. Those that do not vote in elections face a fine. Since the implementation of this system in 1892 for men and in 1949 for women, 89 percent of voters have shown up to cast their vote in elections that were held.
  8. Belgium is a fairly safe and inclusive country because of its liberal political views. In 2003, Belgium became the second country to legalize gay marriage. Belgians also have the right to prematurely choose to die in order to ease the pain and suffering caused by terminal illnesses. Another sign of the country’s inclusivity is the fact that 18 percent of the country’s population was made of immigrants in 2010.
  9. People immigrate to Belgium from all over Europe and, in the past, Belgium has been very liberal with its immigration policy. With the influx of people and a large terrorist attack that occurred back in 2016, Belgium has reigned in some of the masses flooding into the country to keep its people secure. Over the past few years, Belgium received 107,000 applications for asylum and granted only half of them.
  10. The country has a unique political system. Belgium is divided by language and broken up into three regions, all of which have their own government. Each has a parliament, but there are only one monarchy and prime minister that connect all the governments together.

Despite its environmental flaws and dense population, Belgium’s unique way of life and relaxed leadership has set a guideline for economic success that has yet to be outdone by the country’s neighbors. High taxes have allowed the government to take care of its citizens and to enable them to have secure health care and education.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Belarus
The Republic of Belarus is a landlocked nation located in Eastern Europe and a former satellite state of the Soviet Union (USSR). Despite independence and development that came after the USSR’s collapse, Belarus is one of the most repressive countries in Europe. Furthermore, democratic institutions often taken for granted in the West are mostly absent. In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Belarus are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Belarus

  1. Belarus’ economy remains largely state-controlled. According to the Heritage Foundation, 70 percent of the state’s economy is managed by the government. A lack of private ownership inhibits innovation and contributes to government inefficiency.
  2. An aspect of Belarus’ economy that has made its citizens relatively well off is the country’s oil reserves and capacity for refinement. It exports refined petroleum, mainly to Russia, in return for inexpensive natural gas. Trade in fossil fuels contributes to Belarussians having a GDP per capita of $18,100, ranking it 66th out of 214 nations.
  3. Despite Belarus having an above average standard of living, its people are far from free. The country is run by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, the man that is in power since 1994. Widely regarded as the “last dictator in Europe,” his crackdown on dissidents, along with widespread human rights violations, are condemned by the West. A particularly appalling fact about Belarus is the lack of press freedom. Reporters Without Borders ranks Belarus 155th out of 180 in this category, and this is partially due to the imprisonment of 100 journalists in 2017.
  4. Belarus performs reasonably well in major public health indicators. For example, over 99 percent of the country has access to improved drinking water, 94 percent to improved sanitation and its infant mortality rate is a mere 3.6 deaths per 1,000 births. In comparison, the United States has an infant mortality rate of 5.7 per 1,000 births.
  5. A major public health crisis represents disparity between male and female life expectancy. Male life expectancy sits at 66.5, compared to the female rate of 78. Public health experts cite alcohol abuse as a major factor of low life expectancy for Belarussian men. The average man drinks 27.5 liters per year, compared with the worldwide average of 6.2.
  6. Unlike some of its post-Soviet counterparts, such as the Baltic States, Belarus is not closely aligned with the European Union (EU). This isolation has a noticeable impact on Belarus’ economy. EU members have access to one of the largest common markets in the world. Furthermore, citizens of EU member states are generally free to live and work throughout the bloc. Millions of people are taking this advantage and bettering themselves, an option Belarussians do not have.
  7. Overall, the population of Belarus appears to be adequately educated. Adult literacy rates are nearly 100 percent and students spend an average of 15 years in the educational system.
  8. Belarus’ economy is recovering after years of decline. It experienced 2.9 percent annual GDP growth in 2017, with this trend expected to continue through the decade. However, for sustained growth to occur, experts argue that structural reforms must be implemented. These include reducing the debt to GDP ratio and efficiently allocating Belarus’ rich reserves of capital, both physical and human.
  9. Belarus’ leader quells dissent by intimidating and censoring the media. Recently, he has been receiving help from Russia, in the form of state-sponsored propaganda dominating Belarus’ airwaves. The goal of Russia’s campaign, according to World Policy magazine, is to mobilize Belarus’ sizeable Russian population against anti-Russian, pro-Belarussian nationalism. As the Baltic States and unoccupied Ukraine are unequivocally pro-democracy, Russia wants to maintain a friendly neighbor in a region increasingly allied with the West.
  10. The Human Development Index (HDI) ranks nations based on an aggregation of quality of life statistics, including life expectancy, per capita income and education. Based on the quality of these indicators, a country is awarded a score from 0-1. Belarus’ HDI score stands at 0.80, which places the country in 53rd place worldwide. Despite their lack of political freedom, Belarussians have a standard of living well above the world average.

The top 10 facts about living conditions in Belarus presented above show a clear dependence of the country on both European Union and Russia, both economically and politically. Despite having autocratic government and being one of the most repressive countries in Europe, the country has seen an increase in economic development that benefited all citizens of the country.

– Joseph Banish
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s 4.8 million citizens enjoy a front-row view of the country’s picturesque coastal views and scenic landscapes. However, more recently, the country has been attracting more than just people looking to relocate for retirement and eco-tourists, as Costa Rica has been expanding a number of government programs in order to boost economy. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Costa Rica are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica

  1. The most thought-provoking fact about living conditions in Costa Rica is that it has one of the longest life expectancy rates in modern Southern America, prevalent among the poorest of Costa Rica’s citizens. On average, Costa Ricans live to be 77 years old, similar to people in the U.S. that live 77.4 years on average. Although there is a large development gap between these two countries, the long expectancy rate in Costa Rica has been attributed to the country’s health care system.
  2. Costa Rica’s universal health care system, known to many as the “Caja”, provides health care to 86 percent of Costa Ricans for a small monthly payment, which is based on monthly income. Under “Caja”, those covered enjoy a wide array of medical services offered in one of the network’s 30 hospitals and 250 clinics around the country. Even those who are not covered by “Caja”, services remain relatively low in cost.
  3. Compared to other civilized Central and Latin American nations, Costa Rica has one of the most developed economies and has one of the highest standards of living. It also has one of the lowest percentages of people in poverty compared to neighboring countries, being at 16 percent. Poverty is more common among those living in rural areas, those indignant to the nation and one-parent households.
  4. Around 24 percent of the country’s population is comprised of children under the age of 14. With an estimated one out of four children living below the poverty line, many of these children are put at risk for poverty conditions due to family and income instability. As a result, 36,000 children are left orphaned in Costa Rica.
  5. By defunding its military in 1948, Costa Rica was able to develop a high-quality public education system. Many benefit from the public institutions and it has even generated a higher rate of literacy among children. However, 30 percent of school-aged children do not attend school because of financial situations or low access in rural areas.
  6. Child labor serves a societal and cultural need in Costa Rica. In older rural societies, it is customary to find children working to support the overall need of the family, especially in the agricultural sector. In larger households, income must be earned more than one earner in order to survive. This is done by the males in the family where 9 percent of boys sacrifice education for the greater good of the family. Overall, 8 percent of school-aged children have no education.
  7. The coffee bean agriculture in Costa Rica is a large source of income for many, so much so that many abandon educational pursuits every year to participate in its profitable harvest. In order to pay for school supplies, teachers and students alike wake in the early morning hours to work the fields, exposing themselves to serious health conditions that pose a risk to still-developing bodies.
  8. Although there is no known cause or reason, there has been an outbreak of HIV and AIDS-related illness among children and teens. Costa Rica has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in Latin America. Experts suspect that the spread of the illness could be prevented with proper education and prevention methods.
  9. Costa Rican government has taken a proactive role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty. By implementing health care, job and environmental policies along with reducing inflation costs and seeking opportunities to grow the economy, the government was able to significantly decrease the number of people living in poverty. In the 1990s, 11 percent of the population was living on $1.90 a day. That number has now been reduced to 2 percent of the total population.
  10. The average American wage earner makes $12,900 a year while the poorest 20 percent of Costa Ricans earn $100 a month. In order to meet the nutritional value someone needs for a healthy life, a person must spend an average of $90 on food per month. Costa Ricans spend 30 percent of their yearly earnings on food and drink, which is roughly around $300 a year, or $780 less than they should be spending on adequate nutrition.

While poverty is still an issue that many Costa Ricans are facing, the policy makers of Costa Rica are taking an active role in trying to alleviate this issue and improving the living conditions of citizens. With life-changing initiatives, the number of people living in poverty has gone down drastically while setting an example for others to do the same.

– Catherine Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Somalia
Somalia, located at the Horn of Africa, is a country with colorful and diverse traditions, but harsh conditions. Life is not only affected by the climate, but also the treacherous political environment. In this article, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Somalia

  1. Somalia has four seasons, two rainy and two dry ones. These seasons are combined with some of the highest mean temperatures worldwide. These conditions make farming incredibly difficult, in fact, only 0.05 percent of the land is inhabited by permanent crops. Most agricultural employment takes place through livestock. Somalia is also a large exporter of bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts and rice. However, without consistent trade, much of this has gone to waste and has created a famine.
  2. There is virtually no infrastructure in many parts of the country due to the ongoing civil war. This affects the ability of a community to access clean water. Only 34 percent of individuals have access to sanitation services and, because plumbing is uncommon in many rural areas, 50 percent of individuals in these areas practice open defecation. Currently, progress on this issue is created through building wells, as well as implementing community programs to improve sanitation. Mercy USA has built over 580 wells in order to improve water access in Somalia. The WASH program is implementing underground wells that are attached to solar-powered sanitation systems.
  3. Another one of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia relates to clean water access and adequate health care facilities. In 2017, there were over 79,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea or cholera alone. Only 6 percent of Somali residents have access to antenatal doctor’s appointments. The transmission of infectious diseases is amplified by the nomadic tendencies of pastoral clans, and the presence of large refugee camps. The WHO and UNICEF have been able to decrease measles outbreaks by administering vaccines to over 45,000 children in these camps. Nearly 50 percent of children under the age of 1 have been vaccinated for this disease.
  4. Women and children face danger on a daily basis. Armed men often take sexually violent acts against women and girls without prosecution. Children are recruited and indoctrinated by the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. Somalia is ranked as one of the worst five places to be a woman in the world due to the widespread practice of Sharia law and restriction of gender-based freedoms. There is also limited access to health care and the prevalence of human trafficking. The Somali federal government did implement an incredibly comprehensive Sexual Offences Bill in May 2018, the bill that criminalizes sexual offenses.
  5. According to the WHO, the average life expectancy of a Somali individual is 53 years. The average expectancy of an individual to live a healthy life is only 45 years. Due to a lack of access to health care services and adequate sanitation, most adults die of infectious disease. Upon birth, only 9 percent of women are attended by a health professional. Maternal, neonatal and nutritional deaths account for approximately 18,000 deaths across both genders.
  6. The federal government only controls part of the country and formal economic activity is limited to the urban areas. Businesses are scarce due to the probability of looting and high inflation. It is 137 percent more expensive to live in Mogadishu, country’s capital, than in Tokyo. The main income of the country is international trade, but constant civil discourse prohibits this sector from experiencing significant growth. The new Public Financial Management bill should increase the government’s revenue security and control of expenses.
  7. There are two seceded states in the north: Somaliland and Puntland created after the civil war. Constant border disputes between the three regions have created unrest and violence. Around 2.1 million individuals have been displaced by federal government evictions, random acts of violence and climatic conditions. Foreign aid has made efforts to provide assistance to displaced peoples, but Al-Shabaab placed sanction prohibiting humanitarian organizations.
  8. The split between Puntland, Somaliland and the Somali Republic causes constant border disputes. There is no judiciary system to solve these issues and these disputes devolve into violent attacks. The influx of pastoral clans and refugees into major cities and ports during the dry season cause looting and disease.
  9. The government provides exponentially less health assistance than nongovernmental organizations. Regions within WHO jurisdiction have nearly twice the utilization of health services than regions without it. Maternal and child mortality rates are also much lower in these areas. Less than 50 out of 1,000 children die versus approximately 150 out of 1,000 in regions without aid. The Somali federal government has increased spending on health care services and has had 88 percent of the population for tuberculosis tested in regions without organizations’ assistance.
  10. Around 2.1 million people have been displaced internally in refugee camps. The surrounding countries have placed sanctions on incoming peoples seeking asylum due to limited resources. Those seeking asylum are also unable to travel across the disputed borders of Somaliland and Puntland because of convoys along them. With large numbers of people moving around so sporadically, it is also hard to create a consistent source of nutrition.

Poverty and civil war are rampant issues that result in many consequences for Somalia. Humanitarian aid is the main source of help in improving living conditions for over 5.4 million people that are in desperate need. Between the assistance of these organizations and the growing effectiveness of the federal government, the people of Somalia may have a decent chance to live in a comfortable environment.

– Emily Triolet

Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Tanzania Tanzania is an East African country best known for its safaris, the Serengeti National Park and the “big five” game, or the elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino. But what does it feel like to live and work in this country? How do natives of Tanzania go about everyday life? In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Tanzania that will try to answer these and other questions, are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tanzania

  1. The land is a very important asset in safeguarding food security. The nine main food crops in Tanzania are maize, sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, beans, cassava, potatoes and bananas. The Tanzanian government encourages 25 million young people to choose agricultural industry as their line of work. Tanzania’s agricultural industry makes more than $1 billion in crop export per year and contributes to nearly 30 percent of the country’s GDP.
  2. Self-employment is very popular in the country. One out of every three Tanzanians runs a small business such as a restaurant, shop or a consulting company that employs less than nine employees. Entrepreneurship is a major stepping stone for the citizens of the country as it allows them to be self-sustainable.
  3. Tanzania’s urban population is mostly concentrated in Dar-es-Salaam, the biggest city, who has 4.3 million people and Zanzibar with 1.3 million. Both cities have metro areas and a port of entry. Even though these two cities are urban meccas, 80 percent of Tanzanians still live in rural areas.
  4. Tanzania has a fast population growth and a high fertility rate. In 2012, Tanzania had a population of 49 million and today the population is around 60 million. Tanzanian women have five children on average. In addition, the death rate is falling, and citizens are living well into their late 60’s. It is projected that Tanzania will have 100 million citizens by 2035.
  5. The Government of Tanzania pays some of its deficits thanks to its minerals industry. Gold is a major commodity with $1.46 billion being exported in 2017 and around one million people being employed by the mining industry, making Tanzania the third largest African nation to produce this mineral. The Minerals minister wants at least 10 percent of the mineral company’s earnings to go to the country’s GDP by the year 2025. This stemmed from a tax issue with Acacia Mining Plc, one of the largest gold mines in the country. 
  6. Thirty percent of Tanzania land is a national park and the country is surrounded by three of the largest lakes in the world. However, Tanzania is struggling with water scarcity in rural areas. Only half of the population has access to clean drinking water. There are organizations who aim to fix this problem. The Water Project raises money to build new wells, fix neglected wells, build rain tanks and protect springs. They work with the communities and locals to determine what are the best options and solutions.
  7. Tanzania’s climate ranges from tropical to temperate. Farms and livestock depend on the rain, but years of drought have brought famine to the country. Tanzania has had a drought period since 2017 and is suffering from less than 30 percent of its normal rainfall. Due to the lack of water, almost 4,000 livestock have been killed, With the dying animals and lack of crops, there is a fear this will lead to food shortages in an already poverty-stricken country.
  8. Over 35 percent of Tanzania’s population lives in extreme poverty. A major cause of this is the country’s low pace of urbanization. Around 34 percent of the population lacks basic amenities such as electricity, sanitation and education.
  9. Former president and father of Tanzanian independence Julius Nyerere was a teacher. Today, the country ranks at the bottom in terms of education. While 94 percent of children enroll in school at the primary level, 20 percent of students drop out before finishing, and only 15 percent complete secondary school. Some reasons for this are lack of trained teachers, lack of money and not lack of space in schools. In 2015, Tanzania abolished school fees and tuition in hope that more children would be able to attend school. But even though official school fees are no longer required many students still can not afford to attend lessons due to other costs such as uniforms, transportation and books.
  10. In Tanzania, psychology does not represent a discipline. Psychological services are not yet regulated and universities do not even have a department named for it. Bloom Consultancy is a local organization that is hoping to educate Tanzanians on how to be mentally healthy and keep maintaining good mental well-being. Most natives would compare mental health with having a mental illness. Recently, with technology development, there has been an increase in awareness of this issue. Tanzanian Psychological Association has been founded in 2009 and Muhumbili National Hospital in Dar has also started providing support groups and psychology educational seminars for Tanzanians.

Some of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Tanzania are hard to comprehend while others show signs of hope for the country. Even though Tanzania has areas that need improvement, like education and universal access to clean water, it has made strides in improving mental health acceptance, self-employment and usage of natural resources. The country is improving with help from the government and the people who call Tanzania home.

– Jennifer O’Brien

Photo: Unsplash