Malta ranked 34th in human
by Times of Malta
Iceland has narrowly taken the top spot held by Norway for the past six years in the Human Development Index, according to a report issued today by the United Nations.
It made it to the top as a result of new estimates of life expectancy and updated GDP per capita figures. Malta is in 34th place, down two from last year.
The HDI assesses the state of human development through life expectancy, adult literacy and school enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level, along with income, based on the most recent reliable data from UN partners and other official sources.
The Index analyses 2005 statistics from 175 UN member countries along with Hong Kong and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Malta's ranking puts it in the middle of the 70-country group having the highest human development.
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria , Romania, Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania are the European countries behind Malta.
Twenty-two countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa, fall into the category of "low human development." In 1-of these countries, two children in five will not reach the age of 40;
in the case of Zambia that figure rises to one child in two. By contrast, amongst the top 20 countries, only in Denmark and the United States will fewer than nine children in ten reach the age of 60.
In most countries, including Brazil, China and India, human development has risen over the last 30 years, but some countries have shifted into reverse gear.
In all, 16 countries have a lower HDI today than in 1990. Three of these countries-the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe-have lower rates of human development than they did in 1975.
This year's HDR, entitled Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world, focuses on the impact of climate change on the world's poor and vulnerable. It highlights the role of energy in human development .
According to the Report, the top 20 countries in the HDI emitted more CO2 in 2004 than all the medium and low human development countries combined.