пятница, 20 июня 2008 г.


Information and maps from the Dorling Kindersley World Reference Atlos (30), available from all good bookshops.

Official name: Republic of Paraguay Capital: Asuncion Population: 4.5 million Currency: Guarani Official language: Spanish and Guarani

Land-locked in central South America and a Spanish possession until 1811, Paraguay won large tracts of land from Bolivia in 1835. From then until the overthrow in 1989 of General Stroessner, South America's longest surviving dictator, it experienced periods of anarchy and military rule. The dyer Paraguay divides the eastern hills and fertile plains, where 90 per cent of people live, from the almost uninhabited Chaco region in the west. CLIMATE

Paraguay has a subtropical climate. All parts experience floods and droughts, but the Chaco is generally drier and hotter. Temperatures peak at about 35 degrees Celsius in January. COMMUNICATIONS

Approximately 320,000 passengers pass through Asuncion's Silvio Pettirossi International airport annually. Foreign investment is sought to upgrade the country's roads and antiquated railways. TOURISM

Tourism is at a low level, except for the cross-border day trippers from Brazil and Argentina who come to buy cheap, Far Eastern electrical goods. PEOPLE

Population density: 11 people per square kilometre

Urban/rural population split: 49 per cent/51 per cent

Ethnic make-up: Most Paraguayans are of combined Spanish and native Guarani origin and are bilingual, except in more rural areas where Guarani is spoken almost exclusively. Two thirds of the country's indigenous Indians live in the vast, almost empty Chaco region. POLITICS

In 1993 Paraguay held its first free elections in sixty years of military rule, following a coup led by General Rodriguez in 1989. The old Colorado Party, led by General Stroessner, still received sufficient support to win both congressional and presidential elections. But the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, led by businessman and free-marketeer Guillermo Cabellero Vargas did well in Asuncion and have high hopes for the next elections. WORLD AFFAIRS

Paraguay's main aims are to join the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) and improve relations with the USA. AID

The World Bank and IMF are the chief providers of Paraguay's aid receipts, which total about $99 million. Non-governmental charities run small programmes in rural areas. DEFENCE

High ranking military personnel still control Paraguay's political and economic life and so defence budgets are high, currently over $60 million. ECONOMICS

GNP: $6.3 billion

GNP per capita: $1,400

Balance of payments: $622 million deficit

Inflation: 14.6 per cent

Strengths: Earning from electricity exports cover oil imports. Self-sufficiency in wheat and other staple foodstuffs.

Weaknesses: Agriculture alone accounts for 30 per cent of GDP, 90 per cent of exports and 45 per cent of the labour force. Land-locked and remote, the country is dependent on growth in neighbouring countries. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: The joint Paraguay-Brazil itaipu hydroelectric power project has the world's largest generating capacity

Oil production: Paraguay is not an oil producer but refines 7,500 barrels per day

Livestock: Includes cattle, pigs and sheep

Mineral reserves: Iron and manganese ENVIRONMENT

Apart from the destruction of forests for farming, the chief ecological worry is the smuggling of endangered species abroad. However, the Government has no environmental safeguard policies as yet. MEDIA

The Paraguayan press is theoretically free, but most media is sponsored by one of the political parties. It flourished after the fall of Stroessner, but there is less investigative reporting now. CRIME

Paraguay is the contraband capital of Latin America, with trade in everything from cars to cocaine. Jungle airstrips near Brazil provide a route for drugs. EDUCATION

Literacy rate: 90 per cent Provision is limited in remote rural areas and overall, although an estimated 93 per cent of children attend primary school, only 24 per cent attend secondary school. HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 1,610 people

Only a third of the population has safe drinking water. Half of country's hospital beds are located in Asuncion. WEALTH

After 60 years of monopolising lucrative state contracts, the top ranks of the military still control the country's wealth. Only 2.7 per cent of the population own a telephone.

WORLD BANKING Position in World (91 countries)

Life expentancy 94 Infant mortality 97 GDP per capita 106 Daily calorie intake 93 Literacy 79 School index 90 Educational rank 86 Human dev. index 102

MAP: Paraguay


Information and maps from the Darling Kindersley World Reference Atlas (30), available from all good bookshops.

Official name: The Republic of Namibia Capital: Windhoek Population: 1.6 million Currency: Namibian dollar Official language: English

Located in southwestern Africa, Namibia is flanked in the west by an arid coastal strip, the Namib Desert. After many years of guerrilla warfare, the country achieved independence from South Africa in 1990. But its economy remains reliant on the expertise of the small white population despite the move away from apartheid, a legacy of previously poor educational standards for blacks. CLIMATE

Namibia has an almost rainless climate. Thick, cold fog regularly shrouds the coast, only clearing when the hot, dry berg wind blows. Average daily temperatures peak at 30 degrees Celsius in December and January and reach a low of 5 degrees Celsius in June and July. COMMUNICATIONS

Large-scale industry in Namibia is well-served by road and rail. Over 250,000 passengers pass through Windhoek International airport annually and plans exist to build a new harbour at Walvis Bay. TOURISM

Over 200,000 visitors travel to Namibia annually, a figure that is growing rapidly. However, plans are afoot to limit this number to 300,000 to preserve Namibia's fragile desert ecology. PEOPLE

Population density: Two people per square kilometre

Urban/rural population split: 28 per cent/72 per cent

Religious persuasion: Ninety per cent of the population are Christian. The largest ethnic group, the Ovambo, lives mostly in the north of the country, many as subsistence farmers. The affluent white minority (seven per cent of the population) are largely Afrikaans-speaking and live in and around Windhoek. Despite these differences, there has been little strife between rival groups since independence in 1990. The constitution supports sexual equality and positive discrimination in favour of women, but few have official jobs or own property. POLITICS

When it gained independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia switched from a system of apartheid based on 10 separate homelands to a statewide, multi-party democracy. Since then, the Ovambo-supported South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), whose guerrilla wing fought for and won independence, has had control of the National Assembly. Opposition parties claim that SWAPO has been too slow in reducing wealth inequalities and that white landowners are benefiting from the lack of promised land reform. WORLD AFFAIRS

Namibia quickly joined the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Commonwealth after independence. The dispute over the southern border was settled with South Africa in 1992 and in 1993 South Africa agreed to release control of Walvis Bay, Namibia's only deep-water port. AID

Namibia's aid receipts recently reached $140 million. Most comes from the UN. Education accounts for 31 per cent of aid. DEFENCE

Patrolling fishing stocks that are frequently raided by Spanish and South African trawlers is the main activity of an increasingly limited defence operation. ECONOMICS

GNP: $2.1 billion

GNP per capita: $1,510

Balance of payments: $30 million

Inflation: 11.9 per cent Strengths: Varied mineral resources make Namibia the third wealthiest country in sub-Saharan Africa and its waters encompass one of the world's richest offshore fishing grounds. Walvis Bay has potential as a transit point for landlocked neighbours.

Weaknesses: Almost all Namibia's manufactured goods have to be imported. A lack of skilled labour means only 25 per cent of Namibians participate in the commercial economy. The country is very sensitive to fluctuating mineral prices. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: Hydroelectric power has enormous potential and a new station should ensure self-sufficiency

Oil production: Namibia is not an oil producer and has no refineries

Livestock: Includes sheep, cattle and asses

Mineral reserves: Namibia has the largest uranium mine in the world and is a major lead and cadmium producer. Diamonds are an important source of revenue. ENVIRONMENT

Much of Namibia's fragile ecosystem is protected but illegal poaching and anthrax are threatening the country's elephant population. Government policy is generally sensitive to environmental issues and aims to promote eco-tourism rather than mass market developments. MEDIA

Since 1990 press freedom has been guaranteed under the constitution. But only minor criticism is tolerated in practice. CRIME

About 350 people held by SWAPO before independence are still unaccounted for and crime generally is rising, particularly in urban areas. EDUCATION

Literacy rate: 72 per cent

High illiteracy rates among black adults, a legacy of apartheid, is the education system's main challenge. HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 4,620 people

A new health ministry is trying to balance the white-orientated health service. Most areas lack safe water. WEALTH

Whites still earn, on average, 20 times more than blacks. And returning political exiles often find employment quickly, partly because whites do not like hiring former guerrillas.


Position in World
(191 countries)

Life expectancy 142 Infant mortality 157 GDP per capita 143 Daily calorie intake 65 Literacy 160 Schooling index 152 Educational rank 163 Human dev. index 152



Official name: State of Eritrea Capital: Asmara Population: 3.5 million Currency: Egyptian pound Official languages: Tigrinya and Arabic

Lying on the shores of the Red Sea, Eritrea's landscape is dominated by rugged mountains, bush and the Danakil Desert. The country effectively seceded from Ethiopia in 1991, after a 30-year war for independence that left much of its infrastructure in ruins. A failure of the harvest in 1993 compounded the new state's problems, placing 400,000 people at risk from famine. The transitional government is due to hold multiparty democratic elections in 1997.


Average daily temperatures range from 5 degrees Celsius in winter to 25 degrees in the summer. Harvests are dependent on a short, unreliable rainy season from July to September, and droughts are common.


Transport networks are severely limited in Eritrea at present. The railways are inoperable and there are no motorways or navigable waterways. With massive investment, the country could benefit as a transit point for its land-locked neighbours.


There is very little tourism; most visitors are aid workers or on business. Planners are keen to develop coastal resorts for the regional Arab market. However, the task of clearing beaches of mines will take several years.


Population density: 28 people per square kilometre

Urban/rural population split: 20 per cent/80 per cent

Religious persussion: Muslim and Christian faiths dominate (each 45 per cent)

Ethnic make-up: Tigrinya-speakers form the largest of Eritrea's nine main ethnic groups. A strong sense of nationhood has been forged by the 30-year war against Ethiopia. Women played an important role in the war. From 1973, 30,000 fought alongside men, some in positions of command. Their claim to equal rights is likely to be enshrined in the new constitution. Over 80 per cent of the people are subsistence farmers. Few live beyond the age of 45.


Eritrea became a region of Ethiopia in 1952 as a result of European power politics. After years of struggle, Ethiopian troops were driven out by The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) in 1991. A referendum in 1993 gave a resounding 'yes' to independence and democratic elections are planned for 1997. A new constitution will forbid parties based on religious or ethnic affiliations.


Eritrea's secession marked the first major redrawing of the national borders established by Africa's colonisers, prompting fears of other secessionist movements throughout the continent. Eritrea's main concern is to attract Western aid for reconstruction to help develop its role as a transit point for its landlocked neighbours.


Eritrea's economy is almost entirely aid-dependent. Western support is mostly in the form of emergency food aid, responding to the greatest immediate need. But aid for reconstruction is less forthcoming and total aid receipts are tiny compared to Somalia's.


The army is currently unpaid and being demobilised. Ex-soldiers are being reintegrated into the national economy on 'food for work' schemes, whereby they repair the damage wrought by war.


GNP: $393 million (estimated)

GNP per capita: $120

Balance of payments: deficit

Inflation: 12 per cent

Strengths: Strategically important position on Red Sea. Potential for developing mining and oil industries and tourism. Government commitment to reducing dependence on food aid.

Weaknesses: Legacy of disruption and destruction from civil war. Lack of coherent economic policy. Low priority for Western aid. High costs of repatriating refugees who wish to return.


Electricity generation: Limited, prone to surges

Oil production: Onshore and offshore deposits are believed to exist but none are currently exploited. There is a refinery at Assab.

Livestock: Includes sheep, goats, cattle and camels

Mineral reserves: Eritrea has substantial copper reserves and lesser reserves of silver, zinc and gold. High quality silica, granite and marble deposits could be exploited.


There are no protected areas in Eritrea but the new government is conscious of conservation needs. Deforestation and soil erosion are major problems. Approximately 22 million seedlings have been planted since 1991 and the Red Sea coast is a conservation priority.


Most of the media is controlled by the Government, who run both the radio and TV services. Independent newspapers are not encouraged.


Crime has not been a problem since independence. The judiciary and police answer to the EPLF. There are a number of political prisoners.


Literacy rate: 20 per cent Very few schools functioned during the war. There is one university. To reduce ethnic tension, all children above the age of 11 are taught in English.


Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 48,000 people

The risk of famine overrides normal health concerns. Health provision is basic.


Over 80 per cent of people are subsistence farmers with minimal earnings. The one million refugees who fled to neighbouring countries are destitute. Television and car ownership is limited to a small elite.

Position in World (191 countries)

Life expectancy 182 Infant mortality 175 GDP per capita 190 Daily calorie intake 189 Literacy 127 Schooling index 161 Educational rank 138 Human dev. index 168

MAP: Eritrea


Official name: Republic of Kazakhstan

Capital: Alma-Ata

Population: 17 million

Currency: Tenge

Official language: Kazakh

The second largest of the former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan extends almost 2,000 kilometres from the Caspian Sea in the wes to the Altai Mountains in the east and 1,300 kilometres north to south. Kazakhstan was the last Soviet republic to declare its independence, in 1991. It is min eral-rich and has considerable economic potential. Many Western companies are seeking to exploit its natural resources. CLIMATE

Kazakhstan has a continental climate with large temperature variations between summer and winter. Average January tempera tures drop to -1 8 degrees Celsius on the northern Kazakh steppe while the southern deserts reach 30 degrees Celsius in July. COMMUNICATIONS

Transport networks focus on the north and east, the key economic areas. Railways link into the Russian system and most inter-national flights go via Moscow. Extending the network and reducing dependence on Russia are priorities. TOURISM

Visitors are increasing but are still largely limited to business people. Of the Central Asian states Kazakhstan has cultivated the closest links with the West. PEOPLE

Population density: 6 people per square kilometre Urban/rural population split: 58 per cent/42 per cent Religious persuasion: Muslim (47 per cent), Other mainly Russian Orthodox and Lutheran (53 per cent) Ethnic make-up: Kazakh (40 per cent), Russian (38 per cent), Other (IO percent), German (6 per cent), Ukrainian (6 per cent) Kazakhstan's ethnic diversity is mainly a product of forced settlement during the Soviet era. Ethnic tension has been less than in many other former Soviet states as President Nazarbayev has encouraged a multi-ethnic nationalism. The country has a high birth rate but the proportion of under 1 5s in the population is falling. POLITICS

Kazakhstan is a multiparty democracy with the President having supreme executive power. The 1994 elections saw Kazakhs win 60 per cent of par liamentary seats WORLD AFFAIRS

Kazakhstan is a leading supporter of the CIS, as main taining close ties with other for mer Soviet republics is a priority. The country is also attracting for eign investment, particularly from South Korea. Relations with China are strained as China lays claim to parts of eastern Kazakhstan AID

Levels have risen since independence. It is mainly directed at supporting economic reform and providing know-how and training. The Government is seeking to link the dismantling of nuclear warheads to aid payments from the west DEFENCE

Defence spending last year was down 52 per cent on 1993 to $707 million. As the largest of the five Central Asian republics, Kazakhstan is seen as a poten flat guarantor of regional peace. But the West is concerned about former Soviet nuclear warheads based in the country. ECONOMICS

GNP: $1.8 billion GNP per capita: $2455 Balance of payments: deficit Inflation: 84 per cent Kazakhstan's currency is not convertible and consumer prices have risen steeply since 1991 Kazakhstan hopes to become self-sufficient by 2000. Strengths: Vast mineral resources, notably oil, gas, coal, gold, silver and uranium. Western investors attracted by early introduction of market reforms. Weaknesses: Collapse of former Soviet economic and trading system. Heavy reliance on imported consumer goods. Privatisation limited to small-scale enterprises. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: 81.3 billion kwh/year Oil production: 540,000 barrels/day. Massive new reserves confirmed Livestock: 34.2 million sheep and goats, 9.5 million cattle, 2.6 million pigs Mineral reserves: Oil, gas, manganese, gold, silver, coal, iron, tungsten, chromite Mining is the single most important industry in Kazakhstan. Some of the world's largest oil deposits are located near the Caspian Sea. It also has vast iron ore reserves, the world's biggest chromium mine and one of the biggest goldfields. ENVIRONMENT

There are no protected areas in Kazakhstan but Western pressure on the Government may change this. The Aral Sea has shrunk by 40 per cent because of river diversion for irrigation. MEDIA

Direct criticism of the president or the incitement of ethnic tension is not tolerated. There are six daily newspapers, a state-owned TV station and radio station. Satellite TV is available. CRIME

Crime levels are rising, particularly theft. Rural people are starting to grow drug crops to offset falling incomes. EDUCATION

Literacy rate: lower than ex-Soviet average. Education is based on the Soviet model with most teaching still in Russian despite the adoption of Kazakh as the state language HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 245 people There is no social security provision and the health system is limited in both facilities and coverage. Kazakhstan has the highest infant mortality rate in Central Asia. WEALTH

Living standards for many Kazakhs have declined since independence from the USSR. Unemployment has climbed, with the rural population worst affected. For every 1,000 people. 43 own a car and 116 a telephone.



Information and maps from the Dorling Kindersley World Reference Arias (?30), available from all good bookshops.

Official name: Republic of Malawi

Capital: Lilongwe

Population: 10.4 million

Currency: Malawian kwacha

Official Language: Chewa and English

Landlocked in southeast Africa, Malawi occupies a plateau bordering the Great Rift Valley. Lake Malawi, which is 568 kilometres long and occupies one fifth of the country, is among Africa's largest lakes and supports a sizeable fishing industry. Mount Mulanje in the south is the highest mountain in East Africa. Politics in Malawi, a former British colony, is in a delicate transition period following three decades of one-party rule. CLIMATE

The south is hot and humid. The rest of Malawi is warm and sunny in the dry season, but cooler in the highlands. COMMUNICATIONS

The main airport is Kamuzu International at Lilongwe. Malawi does not have a merchant fleet. The national road network extends for 12,215 kilometres and its commercial rail network runs for 789 kilometres. Only Lake Malawi and the Shire river are navigable by commercial craft. TOURISM

Malawi receives 117,069 visitors per year, and this number is increasing. The waters of Lake Malawi, with its 500 species of fish, attract angling, wildlife and water-sports enthusiasts. The national parks and mountain lodges are also popular. PEOPLE

Population density: 74 people per square kilometre

Urban/rural population split: 12 per cent/88 per cent

Religious persuasion: Protestant (55 per cent), Roman Catholic (20 per cent), Muslim (20 per cent), Indigenous beliefs (5 per cent)

Ethnic tensions are few in Malawi as most of the population share a Bantu origin. But northerners are increasingly disaffected at their lack of representation in politics and have become alienated from the ruling party. POLITICS

Malawi became an independent state in 1964 and is now a multiparty democracy. In 1992, international aid was suspended because of the single-party regime of Dr Hastings Banda, which had a poor human rights' record. In 1993, Banda agreed to the introduction of multi-party politics following a referendum. One of the world's longest dictatorships ended in 1994 when Bakili Maluzi won the presidential election. His party, the United Democratic Front, controls 50 per cent of the National Assembly. WORLD AFFAIRS

Malawi is a member of the Commonwealth and the Organisation of African Unity. Its principal concern has been to protect its restored status as a recipient of Western aid. Malawi is the only black African country to have maintained full diplomatic relations with South Africa since 1967. DEFENCE

Defence spending last year was $22.02 million (14.7 million) and is rising. The military has lost confidence in the ruling party and is forcing the pace of democratisation. ECONOMICS

GNP: $1.8 billion

GNP per capita: $200 (?133)

Balance of payments: $-164 million

Inflation: 12.7 per cent

Average exchange rate (against the US dollar over the last year): 4.46 kwacha

Strengths: tobacco accounts for 76 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. Also tea and sugar production. There are unexploited reserves of bauxite, asbestos and coal.

Weaknesses: agriculture accounts for 80 per cent of GDP, while industry contributes only 14 per cent. Skilled personnel is in short supply, unemployment is widespread and regional instabilities and refugees are a problem. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: 587 million kwh/year

Oil production: none

Livestock: 1 million cattle 260,000 pigs, 200,000 sheep, 2,000 asses

Mineral reserves: coal, limestone and gemstones Malawi has few strategic resources. Three hydro-power plants account for 85 per cent of electricity generating capacity but only five per cent of total use. Over 90 per cent of energy needs are met from fuel wood. A deep-seam coal mine recently began production at Rumphi. ENVIRONMENT

Over 11 per cent of land is conserved by law (although this may be only theoretical) but there are few environmental initiatives. Drought is the major problem and caused agricultural production to fall by 25 per cent in 1992. MEDIA

Any hint of criticism in the media is outlawed by the Government. There is one daily newspaper, no TV service, and the state-owned radio service is effectively a Government mouthpiece. CRIME

The proliferation of guns is contributing to an increase in armed robbery. The death penalty is in use. HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 26,942 people

Infectious, parasitic and respiratory diseases are the major causes of death. There iS a free health service but access to it is difficult. WEALTH

Most Malawians lead a subsistence existence. Two in every 1,000 people own a car, while six in every 1,000 own a telephone. VCR and PC ownership is limited to a small elite WORLD RANKING

Position in world (191 countries)

Life expectancy 174 Infant mortality 188 GDP per capita 180 Daily calorie intake 170 Literacy 157 Schooling index 152 Educational rank 158 Human dev. index 171


Official name: The Republic of Liberia

Capital: Monrovia

Population: 2.8 million

Currency: Liberian dollar

Official language: English

Named after liberated slaves who began returning from the US in 1816, Liberia was torn by civil war between 1990 and 1995. Facing the Atlantic in equatorial West Africa, most of its coastline is characterised by lagoons and mangrove swamps. Inland, a grassland plateau supports limited agriculture -- just one per cent of land is arable. Liberia has the world's largest 'flag of convenience' merchant fleet. CLIMATE

Except in the extreme southeast, Liberia has only one rainy season, from May to October, monthly totals peaking at 100 centimetres in June and July. Temperatures are consistently high. During the October to March dry season, when the dust-laden harmattan wind blows, they rise even higher inland. COMMUNICATIONS

The country's limited road network is mainly unpaved and the railways, built to transport iron ore, still carry little other traffic. The main international airport, Roberts Field, was built by the US during the Second World War. TOURISM

Liberia currently attracts very few tourists and even before the war, it was not a popular destination. PEOPLE

Population density: 29 people per square kilometre Urban/rural population split: 46 per cent/54 percent Ethnic make-up: A key distinction in Liberia has been between Americo-Liberians, the descendants of those freed from slavery (known as 'civilised persons'), and the majority group, indigenous 'tribals'. Early divisions between the two groups have been softened by intermarriage and political assimilation. Inter-tribal tension has been a serious problem in recent years. POLITICS

A military coup in 1980 ended a long period of Americo-Liberian rule and resulted in the execution of the government. A series of armed invasions by neighbouring countries followed, prompting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send in a peace-keeping force in 1990. These forces later tried to seize territory and Liberian politics effectively collapsed into a chaotic, bloody and many-sided conflict. A peace accord between the six main warring factions were signed in August 1995 and elections are scheduled for August 1996. WORLD AFFAIRS

The US was the main influence in Liberia until the arrival of ECOWAS' aggressive forces, backed chiefly by Nigeria and Ghana. Burkina, Ivory Coast and Libya were suspected of backing the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the main group fighting with ECOWAS for control of the country. In 1995, United Nation's military observers helped monitor the peace agreement. AID

International donors have pledged humanitarian and logistical aid. The US continued giving support and aid to the military regime until 1990, despite its apparent misuse of funds. DEFENCE

Most of the non-state run or private armies which operated in Liberia, including the official Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), lived by extortion and intimidating local communities. ECONOMICS

GNP: $1.2 billion

GNP per capita: $430

Balance of payments: Formal economy has collapsed

Strengths: Very few. The Firestone rubber plantation and huge LAMCO iron ore mine are under the control of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Tropical timber, but reserves declining.

Weaknesses: Little commercial activity. Civil war from 1990 to 1995 led to the collapse of the economy. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: 565 million kwh

Oil production: Not an oil producer, but refines 15,000 barrels per day

Livestock: Includes sheep, pigs and cattle

Mineral reserves: Liberia has an estimated one billion tonnes of iron ore reserves at Mount Nimba, but the current state of world demand would not justify exploitation. There are also diamond, gold and manganese reserves. ENVIRONMENT

The NFPL and other armed groups have cut down tropical forests to finance their armies, and only one per cent of land is protected. The civil war made environmental initiatives impossible. MEDIA

Between 1980 and 1991, press criticism of the government was discouraged, but since then has been freer. Generally, though, distribution problems lessen the impact of newspapers. CRIME

Human rights have figured little in Liberian life, and during the war they disappeared altogether. The warring factions regularly massacred civilians, press-ganged armies and displaced thousands into seeking refuge in neighbouring states. Unsurprisingly, no figures are published, although crime was rampant, and there were no enforcing agencies. EDUCATION

Literacy rate: 39 per cent Originally based on the US model, the education system effectively collapsed during the civil war. HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 1,625 people

Only the Americo-Liberian community had ready access to health care before the war, and only the military received adequate care during the conflict. WEALTH

Power and wealth are directly connected in Liberia. All of the recent regimes have seen the state as a source of plunder in the form of well-paid jobs and kick-backs from contracts. Fewer than one per cent of the population have a telephone.


Position in World
(191 countries)

Life expectancy 152 Infant mortality 180 GDP per capita 165 Daily calorie intake 126 Literacy 161 Schooling index 143 Educational rank 163 Human dev. index 161

Reading Eagle, Pa., Area Digest column: TV host will speak at Chamber dinner

Tucker Carlson of MSNBC will be the keynote speaker May 14 at the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry's 95th annual dinner.

The event will be held in the Sovereign Center and will include the organization's annual awards.

More than 1,100 members and guests are expected to attend.

Carlson hosts MSNBC's "Tucker," a daily conversation about news, politics, world issues and pop culture.

The dinner also will feature the "Capitol Steps," a Washington, D.C.-based performance group, which will present a satirical look at the headlines of the day through song parodies and skits.

The dinner celebrates winners of the Greater Reading Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and the third annual Greater Reading Top 50 program.

Nominations for those awards are available online at greaterreadingchamber.org under the "Chamber at work" section of the home page.

The dinner begins at 5:15 p.m.

Tickets will go on sale at a later date and will cost $110 for chamber members and $130 for nonmembers.

For further information, go to the Chamber Web site.


Baldwin gets post with law office

Former Berks County District Attorney Mark C. Baldwin has landed a job working for the law office of Timothy B. Bitler in Gibraltar.

Baldwin of Cumru Township is specializing in corporate investigation, white-collar crime, criminal defense, jury consultation, juvenile and protectionfrom-abuse cases and general litigation.

Baldwin and Bitler declined comment.

The firm at 3115 Main St. also provides services in family and civil areas of the law.

Baldwin, who served four terms as district attorney, was defeated in the November election by Reading attorney John T. Adams.


Teenagers with gun rob stand in city

A Reading taco stand was robbed of $25 by three hooded teenagers, one of whom showed a gun, city police said Thursday.

Rafael Jimenez, 55, of Reading told police that three Latino boys walked up to his stand at Green and Moss streets Wednesday about 10 p.m. He said one took out a handgun and demanded money.

Jimenez said he gave them $25 and they fled south on Moss Street toward Buttonwood Street.

Jimenez described the assailants as about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 150 pounds each.

Police asked that anyone with information about the robbers call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913. Callers will receive a cash reward of up to $5,000 if their tip leads to arrests.