Web sites worth the click

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Not all information collected by the CIA is top secret. Anyone planning to parachute into terra incognita should first take a peek at the CIA's World Factbook 2001 online. Click one of 267 countries, including Taiwan, which is not officially recognized by the United States, and get the lowdown on its geography, transportation and communications capabilities, as well as information about demographics, politics and transnational issues, such as border squabbles and drug trafficking. For instance, did you know that Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer, surpassing even Burma? Or that Chad's birth rate is over three times that of the U.S. — 48.3 births per 1,000 women, compared with 14.2 per 1,000 women, respectively? On the top navigation bar, click on “field issues� to access additional comparative information, including the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and military spending levels by country.


Based in Florence, Italy, the Unicef Innocenti Research Centre, the main research arm of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is an international resource base and training center focusing on human rights for children. Its Web site explains current research projects, all of which fall into two major areas: economic and social policy analysis, and the application of human rights instruments. Both country-specific and global studies on subjects such as child poverty, child labor, education and teen births are conducted by the Centre, many of which are available in PDF format. The TransMONEE database of socioeconomic indicators for 27 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can be downloaded from the site as well.


Who would have thought that the small southeastern African country of Malawi would have its information and data so well organized? On the official Web site of the National Statistical Office (NSO) of Malawi, users can access pages of statistics about the 9.9 million inhabitants of this former British Colony. Visitors can learn about the country's “economically active� residents, such as the fact that 83 percent work in the agricultural, hunting and forestry industries. In 2000, nearly 13 percent of the country's exports (worth an estimated 2.8 billion Kwacha or US $35.2 million) came to the United States. In return, Malawi imported 555 million Kwacha worth ($6.9 million) of goods from the U.S. Thinking of visiting Malawi soon? You're one of a precious few. According to the NSO only 227,576 international tourists visited the country in 2000.

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