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Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Lichtenstein

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

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Liechtenstein

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

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

– Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

education in belizeIn developing countries, education is the most important sector for governments to direct resources to. In Belize, a Central American country south of Mexico, the education system has major ties to the British system. Belizeans lived under British rule until 1981, and as a result, the country often uses Britain as a model. Quality education in Belize is particularly important considering that almost two-thirds of Belizeans are under the age of 20, so the future of Belize rests on the shoulders of the young.

The education system in Belize can be divided into three parts: primary education, secondary education and tertiary education. Primary education is mandatory for children until they turn 14, and is free if the school is public. Parents face the possibility of fines if they do not send their child to primary school, but these fines are comparable to the fees associated with the “free” education. Some public schools are in bad neighborhoods and many parents cannot afford to buy their children uniforms or books, so a number of children still leave school to work before the age of 14. Secondary school takes about four years to complete on average and is similar to an American high school education. Universities comprise tertiary school.

While most young children are enrolled in primary school, many question the quality of education in Belize. Teachers are paid very little, and many of them are inadequately trained. In Belize, there is no official separation of church and state, so Christian churches have the largest influence on education in Belize. This results in uneven quality among educational facilities, as more money is poured into schools run by the Roman Catholic Church.

While the lack of a divide between church and state widens the gap between good schools and poor schools, the church has contributed a lot to improve education in Belize. A prime example of this trend can be observed at Unity Presbyterian School in Belize City.

This author had the opportunity to visit Belize City and converse with Pastor Ernest Betson, an ordained Creole minister. Betson founded a church in one of the poorest areas in Belize City in 2006, along with his wife Carolyn. They saw the lack of educational opportunities for children in the area and decided to build a school alongside the church in 2007.  At first, the school only offered preschool programs, but today it accommodates children through grade six.

With the help of the organizations Help Another National Develop Schools and Mission to the World, the school has improved immensely, and each year it educates hundreds of children who would otherwise not be in school. Unity Presbyterian School has a large playground, a computer lab and music programs, as well as classes for basic subjects. In an area affected by human trafficking and gang violence, the school has brought a lot of hope to the young people in the area. Unity Presbyterian School is particularly inspiring in that it serves as an excellent example of Belizeans helping improve the lives of other Belizeans with the help of foreign aid but not dependent on foreign intervention.

While there are still many obstacles for impoverished children seeking education in Belize, there are many organizations, religious and non-religious, seeking to bridge the gap. With people like Pastor Betson spearheading the campaign for better education in Belize, the country can expect to see more improvements in future years.

– Julia McCartney

Education in Vatican CityLocated in the heart of Rome, Italy, Vatican City is the smallest independent nation-state in the world. Its borders surround an area of just under 110 acres, and a majority of the nation’s citizens are members of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. There are roughly 800 people living in Vatican City, and because of the religious practices of the Roman Catholic clergy, there is no annual birth rate. There is no primary education in Vatican City; however, the governing body runs over 15 institutions of higher education. Most of these schools are located outside of the walls of the Vatican, the Ethiopian College being the only exception. Operating within Vatican City, the Ethiopian College guides young African men towards priesthood. One of the largest Vatican-run schools in Rome is Gregorian University, a school which boasts 16 popes and over 19 canonized saints as graduates. Gregorian University was founded in 1551, and the university offers religious educations in topics like canon law and theology.

One cannot discuss education in Vatican City without mentioning the library. The Vatican Library represents one of the largest existing sources of information on the development of the Western world. In 1548, Pope Paul III became the first Cardinal Librarian of the Vatican Library, and it has since served as a tool in the education of thousands of patrons. The American Friends of the Vatican Library was started in 1981, and since then they have raised money and awareness for the treasure trove of information that is the Vatican Library. The American Friends of the Vatican Library is based in Orchard Lake, Michigan, and funds projects like restorations and repairs of the Vatican Library.

Vatican City is by no means a conventional country; however, it is undeniable that education is and has always been something highly regarded by the Vatican City government. Poverty and poor education go hand and hand, and the Roman Catholic Church operating in Vatican City has provided the tools for the education of millions of people since its conception.

Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

AIDS-in-Africa
For many of us in the developed world, places like Swaziland or South Africa seem so far off that the problems they face fall to the wayside of our own concerns. In today’s world, fraught with distractions, it is increasingly difficult to inform people that issues facing even the most remote corner of the globe bear the possibility of becoming our own concerns, especially when it comes to public health.

Every year concerns are raised about West Nile Virus, and it is not difficult to understand why. In less than a generation, the virus had made its way from the Nile all the way to California. Although only those with specific genetic predispositions are susceptible to the disease, even the slightest change in the global climate is a boon to the disease.

Similarly, in 2003, the global health community went into panic at the prospect of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) becoming a pandemic. Overnight, airports around the world transformed into what looked like surgical conventions.

While each new disease understandably has its time in the limelight, one in particular remains a constant source of illness in some areas and an ever-postured threat in others.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that each year 50,000 people are infected with HIV. Moreover, the CDC estimates that, of the one million people living with HIV/AIDS, a fifth are unaware that they have the disease. In countries such as the United States, a mark of development is the ability to adequately quell the spread of disease. Through education, treatment, and preventative measures, HIV/AIDS has not reached the heights of its potential.

In developing nations, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa, the story is much more bleak. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan famously declared that between 1999 and 2000, more Africans died as a result of HIV/AIDS than from all of the wars on the continent combined.

Without adequate education, sufficient intervention is made nearly impossible. When Pope Benedict XVI traveled to sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 and publicly decried the use of condoms, global health officials were sent into frenzy. With 22 million infected, dissuading the use of condoms greatly inhibits efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

With clear indications of the dampening effect education has on the spread of disease, many are compelling global health organizations to shift the brunt of their resources toward education in the sub-Saharan region. A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that through formal education, residents in Sub-Saharan Africa are able to make cognizant decisions about the disease.

In a recent release, the researchers explained that “more educated people have the cognitive tools to make better sense out of facts presented to them. We have shown that when there is sufficient information, and no misinformation, people with education adopt healthy strategies to avoid infections.” While global health organizations are doing compelling work with the disease, the researchers at Penn State believe they are simply treating the symptoms rather than the disease itself. “The kind of information being supplied by NGOs is scandalous because it is so simplistic and minimalist, particularly for low-educated people, that they are not going to figure this disease out in time to prevent their own infection.”

The rate of HIV/AIDS in Africa will remain a source of concern for even the most developed nations in the world into the foreseeable future.

– Thomas van der List 

Sources: NCBI, Aids.gov, National Academy of Sciences, The Guardian, Penn State
Photo: Made4LLCom

pope

Over half of the 118 cardinals that will soon pick the new Pope are from European nations, hinting that the majority of the world’s Catholic members hail from European nations.

Yet, worldwide demographic trends show a different picture.  According to the CNN Belief Blog, growth of the Catholic population in European nations is practically stagnant. Whereas, Africa is seeing significant membership growth to the Roman Catholic Church. This increase in new membership in African countries creates a stronger voice for Catholicism outside of Europe, making it seem as if the next Pope could be African.

Posters have even been spotted in Rome endorsing a top African Pope contender, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Cardinal Turkson seems to be the most ideal and viable papal candidate coming out of Africa because of his age (by Vatican standards, being 64 is young), as well as the pastoral and Vatican exposure he has from running an archdiocese and being appointed by Pope Benedict to head the Council for Justice and Peace.

But should geographic background even be a part of the decision to find the next Pope? Reverend Emmanuel Katongole, a Ugandan Catholic priest, believes that “choosing the next Pope is an issue that must rise above geographic borders” because geography should theoretically have nothing to do with faith or loyalty to the Church.

Those 118 cardinals that will pick the Pope from amongst themselves should be basing their decisions on who they could see in that chair, leading the Roman Catholic Church. This seems to be the focus of the top ranking officials within the church who are focused on having a global vision. According to Bishop Thomas Paprocki, “The Pope has to be the visible shepherd of 1 billion Catholics in the world,” thus the nationality of the Pope is not the number one concern.

In the next 10 days, the cardinals will meet and the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church will be chosen. Yet, the discussion surrounding whether or not the next Pope will be African shows a changing, more open, world.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: CNN Belief Blog, Voice of America, African Celebrities
Photo: Voice of America