Which part of the world has the lowest density of population and which the highest? The answer: Western Sahara with just one person per square kilometre and Macau with 24,000 per square
kilometre. World population, which has already increased three-and-a-half times this century, is expected to soar from 5.8 billion to eight billion in just over 25 years.
And life expectancy across the world? An average of 63 for men and 68 for women ú from a high in some countries of 76 (men) and 82 (women) to a low of 52 and 55.
So reports the annual official publication "Social Trends'', published in the United Kingdom. The book paints a picture of an increasingly prosperous Britain. Inflation is only around three per cent
and there is relatively low unemployment compared with many other countries. But, like most other countries, the people in the UK are worried about global warming, acid rain, pollution, and the
effects of economic activity on wildlife, the countryside and beaches. Around half of the UK's land area is now designated or protected as being of conservation value. Nine out of 10 waters off
beaches now meet EU standards.
Noise has become a major concern in recent years with the number of complaints soaring ú not necessarily reflecting an increase, says the report, but more an indication of sensitivity and willingness
to complain about unacceptable levels. Noisy neighbours and organisations should take care: a new UK law gives local authorities power to confiscate noise making equipment in exceptional cases.
On a less serious note the book records that Britons, apparently, are enthusiastic users of video recorders and microwave ovens and have more than any other country in the European Union, but they
are less keen on dishwashers than most of their fellow members.
And one in five UK households has a mobile phone and one in 20 a personal computer. But the people still find time to borrow 500 million books from libraries. The survey also discloses that in their
leisure time they are active walkers, cyclists, swimmers, footballers ú and snooker and billiards players. But the most popular leisure activity is still going out for a drink.
The population is pretty happy with their free National Health Service with two thirds reporting their hospital treatment was satisfactory or good and three quarters said the same about their visits
to family doctors. The survey says that hospitals are now undertaking over 5,000 organ transplants a year. The incidence of killer conditions like lung cancer and heart disease has fallen
The last quarter of a century has seen a boom in the education of the UK's young children with well over half going to school between three or four ú a year before the compulsory age. Three quarters
are in education or training until they are l8 and one in three eventually go on to higher education ú with women now in the majority at these institutions. And only 16 per cent of men have no
qualifications. Government spending on education has increased, in fact, by 60 per cent in real terms in less than 25 years.