Some of you will be familiar with these countries, others less so. I would like to paint a brief picture of the peoples and their culture and the life the live. Sometimes I will give demographic facts, other times a little more colourful information. I hope it is useful to get a feeling of these people and the artisans who continue their traditional handicraft and so perpetuate their culture. The handicrafts are often evolving to meet the modern era and the needs or wants of the international market, but seem to maintain the essential elements of the culture.
I use the United Nations Human Development Index as an indicator of a country’s level of development. The human development index (HDI) is compiled by the UNDP and is a summary measure of a country’s human development. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. The ranked position on the HDI is used to distinguish whether a country is a developed, developing or an under-developed country. It measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions:
These three dimensions are standardised to values between 0 and 1, and the simple average is taken to arrive at the overall HDI value in the ratio 0 to 1. Countries are then ranked on the basis of this value with a rank of 1 representing the highest HDI value.
To give an indication of the relative differences, in the UNDP Human Development Report released October 5, 2009, Australia was #2 of the 182 countries with a HDI of 0.970. New Zealand was 20th at 0.950. Switzerland was 9th at 0.960. These countries are among 38 considered to have very high human development. The next category is high human development and comprises 44 countries. Then comes medium human development with 74 countries including Vietnam (116 out of 182), Laos (133 out of 182), India (134 out of 182), Nepal (144 out of 182). Finally the last category of low human development comprises 23 countries including Timor-Leste at 162 out of 182, and Afghanistan 181 out of 182.
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