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Information Field Notes
Administrative divisionsThe Administrative Divisions entry in a country profile gives the general division of the country into regions. It generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). For example, France has 22 regions: Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, etc. Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
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Age structureThis entry provides the distribution of the population according to age. Information is included by sex and age group (0-14 years, 15-64 years, 65 years and over). The age structure of a population affects a nation's key socioeconomic issues. Countries with young populations (high percentage under age 15) need to invest more in schools, while countries with older populations (high percentage ages 65 and over) need to invest more in the health sector. The age structure can also be used to help predict potential political issues. For example, the rapid growth of a young adult population unable to find employment can lead to unrest.
Agriculture - productsThis entry is a rank ordering of major crops and products starting with the most important.
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AirportsThis entry gives the total number of airports. The runway(s) may be paved (concrete or asphalt surfaces) or unpaved (grass, dirt, sand, or gravel surfaces), but must be usable. Not all airports have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control.
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Airports - with paved runwaysThis entry gives the total number of airports with paved runways (concrete or asphalt surfaces). For airports with more than one runway, only the longest runway is included according to the following five groups - (1) over 3,047 m, (2) 2,438 to 3,047 m, (3) 1,524 to 2,437 m, (4) 914 to 1,523 m, and (5) under 914 m. Only airports with usable runways are included in this listing. Not all airports have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control.
Airports - with unpaved runwaysThis entry gives the total number of airports with unpaved runways (grass, dirt, sand, or gravel surfaces). For airports with more than one runway, only the longest runway is included according to the following five groups - (1) over 3,047 m, (2) 2,438 to 3,047 m, (3) 1,524 to 2,437 m, (4) 914 to 1,523 m, and (5) under 914 m. Only airports with usable runways are included in this listing. Not all airports have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control.
AreaThis entry includes three subfields. Total area is the sum of all land and water areas delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines. Land area is the aggregate of all surfaces delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines, excluding inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers). Water area is the sum of all water surfaces delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines, including inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers).
Area - comparativeThis entry provides an area comparison based on total area equivalents. Most entities are compared with the entire US or one of the 50 states based on area measurements (1990 revised) provided by the US Bureau of the Census. The smaller entities are compared with Washington, DC (178 sq km, 69 sq mi) or The Mall in Washington, DC (0.59 sq km, 0.23 sq mi, 146 acres).
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BackgroundThis entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
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Birth rateThis entry gives the average annual number of births during a year per 1,000 persons in the population at midyear; also known as crude birth rate. The birth rate is usually the dominant factor in determining the rate of population growth. It depends on both the level of fertility and the age structure of the population.
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BudgetThis entry includes revenues, total expenditures, and capital expenditures. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.
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CapitalThis entry gives the location of the seat of government.
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ClimateThis entry includes a brief description of typical weather regimes throughout the year.
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CoastlineThis entry gives the total length of the boundary between the land area (including islands) and the sea.
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CommunicationsThis category deals with the means of exchanging information and includes the telephone, radio, television, and Internet service provider entries.
Communications - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous communications information of significance not included elsewhere.
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ConstitutionThis entry includes the dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to the Constitution.
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Country nameThis entry includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
CurrencyThis entry identifies the national medium of exchange and its basic subunit.
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Data codeThis entry gives the official US Government digraph that precisely identifies every land entity without overlap, duplication, or omission. AF, for example, is the data code for Afghanistan. This two-letter country code is a standardized geopolitical data element promulgated in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication (FIPS) 10-4 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the US Department of Commerce and maintained by the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the US Department of State. The data code is used to eliminate confusion and incompatibility in the collection, processing, and dissemination of area-specific data and is particularly useful for interchanging data between databases.
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Death rateThis entry gives the average annual number of deaths during a year per 1,000 population at midyear; also known as crude death rate. The death rate, while only a rough indicator of the mortality situation in a country, accurately indicates the current mortality impact on population growth. This indicator is significantly affected by age distribution, and most countries will eventually show a rise in the overall death rate, in spite of continued decline in mortality at all ages, as declining fertility results in an aging population.
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Debt - externalThis entry gives the total amount of public foreign financial obligations.
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Dependency statusThis entry describes the formal relationship between a particular nonindependent entity and an independent state.
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Dependent areasThis entry contains an alphabetical listing of all nonindependent entities associated in some way with a particular independent state.
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Diplomatic representation from the USThis entry includes the chief of mission, embassy address, mailing address, telephone number, FAX number, branch office locations, consulate general locations, and consulate locations.
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Diplomatic representation in the USThis entry includes the chief of the foreign mission, chancery address, telephone number, FAX number, consulate general locations, consulate locations, honorary consulate general locations, and honorary consulate locations.
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Disputes - internationalThis entry includes a wide variety of situations that range from traditional bilateral boundary disputes to unilateral claims of one sort or another. Information regarding disputes over international terrestrial and maritime boundaries has been reviewed by the US Department of State. References to other situations involving borders or frontiers may also be included, such as resource disputes, geopolitical questions, or irredentist issues; however, inclusion does not necessarily constitute official acceptance or recognition by the US Government.
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Economic aid - donorThis entry refers to net official development assistance (ODA) from OECD nations to developing countries and multilateral organizations. ODA is defined as financial assistance that is concessional in character, has the main objective to promote economic development and welfare of the less developed countries (LDCs), and contains a grant element of at least 25%. The entry does not cover other official flows (OOF) or private flows.
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Economic aid - recipientThis entry, which is subject to major problems of definition and statistical coverage, refers to the net inflow of Official Development Finance (ODF) to recipient countries. The figure includes assistance from the World Bank, the IMF, and other international organizations and from individual nation donors. Formal commitments of aid are included in the data. Omitted from the data are grants by private organizations. Aid comes in various forms including outright grants and loans. The entry thus is the difference between new inflows and repayments.
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EconomyThis category includes the entries dealing with the size, development, and management of productive resources, i.e., land, labor, and capital.
Economy - overviewThis entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
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Electricity - consumptionThis entry consists of total electricity generated annually plus imports and minus exports, expressed in kilowatt hours. The discrepancy between the amount of electricity generated and/or imported and the amount consumed and/or exported is accounted for as loss in transmission and distribution.
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Electricity - exportsThis entry is the total exported electricity in kilowatt hours.
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Electricity - importsThis entry is the total imported electricity in kilowatt hours.
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Electricity - productionThis entry is the annual electricity generated expressed in kilowatt hours. The discrepancy between the amount of electricity generated and/or imported and the amount consumed and/or exported is accounted for as loss in transmission and distribution.
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Electricity - production by sourceThis entry indicates the percentage share of annual electricity production of each energy source. These are fossil fuel, hydro, nuclear, and other (solar, geothermal, and wind).
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Elevation extremesThis entry includes both the highest point and the lowest point.
Environment - current issuesThis entry lists the most pressing and important environmental problems. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry:
acidification: the lowering of soil and water pH due to acid precipitation and deposition; this process disrupts ecosystem nutrient flows and may kill freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions (see acid rain).
acid rain: characterized as containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxide; acid rain is damaging and potentially deadly to the earth's fragile ecosystems; acidity is measured using the pH scale where 7 is neutral, values greater that 7 are considered alkaline, and anything measured below 5.6 is considered acid precipitation; note - a pH of 2.4 (the acidity of vinegar) has been measured in rainfall in New England.
asbestos: a naturally occurring soft fibrous mineral commonly used in fireproofing materials and considered to be highly carcinogenic.
biodiversity: also biological diversity; many species, diverse in form and function, at the genetic, organism, community, and ecosystem level; loss of biodiversity reduces an ecosystem's ability to recover from natural or man-induced disruption.
catchments: assemblages used to capture and retain rainwater and runoff; an important water management technique in areas with limited freshwater resources, such as Gibraltar.
DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane): a colorless, odorless insecticide that has toxic effects on most animals; the use of DDT was banned in the US in 1972.
defoliants: chemicals which cause plants to lose their leaves artificially; often used in agricultural practices for weed control, and may have detrimental impacts on human and ecosystem health.
deforestation: the destruction of vast areas of forest (e.g., unsustainable forestry practices, agricultural and range land clearing, and the over exploitation of wood products for use as fuel) without planting new growth.
desertification: the spread of desert-like conditions in arid or semi-arid areas, due to overgrazing, loss of agriculturally productive soils, or climate change.
dredging: in general, the practice of deepening an existing waterway; more specifically, a technique used for collecting bottom-dwelling marine organisms (e.g., shellfish) or harvesting coral, often causing significant destruction of reef and ocean-floor ecosystems.
drift-net fishing: done with a net, miles in extent, that is generally anchored to a boat and left to float with the tide; often results in an over harvesting and waste of large populations of non-commercial marine species (by-catch) by its effect of "sweeping the ocean clean".
ecosystems: ecological units comprised of complex communities of organisms and their specific environments.
effluents: waste materials, such as smoke or sewage, which are released into the environment, subsequently polluting it.
endangered species: a species that is threatened with extinction either by direct hunting or habitat destruction.
freshwater: water with very low soluble mineral content; sources include lakes, streams, rivers, glaciers, and underground aquifers.
groundwater: water sources found below the surface of the earth often in naturally occurring reservoirs in permeable rock strata; the source for wells and natural springs.
Highlands Water Project: a series of dams constructed jointly by Lesotho and South Africa to redirect Lesotho's abundant water supply into a rapidly growing area in South Africa; while it is the largest infrastructure project in southern Africa, it is also the most costly and controversial; objections to the project include claims that it forces people from their homes, submerges farmlands, and squanders economic resources.
Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC): represents the 125,000 Inuits of Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland in international environmental issues; a panel convenes every three years to determine the focus of the ICC; the most current concerns are long-range transport of pollutants, sustainable development, and climate change.
metallurgical plants: industries which specialize in the science, technology, and processing of metals; these plants produce highly concentrated and toxic wastes which can contribute to pollution of ground water and air when not properly disposed.
noxious substances: injurious, very harmful to living beings.
overgrazing: the grazing of animals on plant material faster than it can naturally regrow leading to the permanent loss of plant cover, a common effect of too many animals grazing limited range land.
ozone shield: a layer of the atmosphere composed of ozone gas (O3) that resides approximately 25 miles above the Earth's surface and absorbs solar ultra-violet radiation that can be harmful to living organisms.
poaching: the illegal killing of animals or fish, a great concern with respect to endangered or threatened species.
pollution: the contamination of a healthy environment by man-made waste.
potable water: water that is drinkable, safe to be consumed.
salination: the process through which fresh (drinkable) water becomes salt (undrinkable) water; hence, desalination is the reverse process.
siltation: occurs when water channels and reservoirs become clotted with silt and mud, a side effect of deforestation and soil erosion.
slash-and-burn agriculture: a rotating cultivation technique in which trees are cut down and burned in order to clear land for temporary agriculture; the land is used until its productivity declines at which point a new plot is selected and the process repeats; this practice is sustainable while population levels are low and time is permitted for regrowth of natural vegetation; conversely, where these conditions do not exist, the practice can have disastrous consequences for the environment .
soil degradation: damage to the land's productive capacity because of poor agricultural practices such as the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers, soil compaction from heavy equipment, or erosion of top soil, eventually resulting in reduced ability to produce agricultural products.
soil erosion: the removal of soil by the action of water or wind, compounded by poor agricultural practices, deforestation, overgrazing, and desertification.
ultra-violet (UV) radiation: a portion of the electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun and naturally filtered in the upper atmosphere by the ozone layer; UV radiation can be harmful to living organisms and has been linked to increasing rates of skin cancer in humans.
water-born diseases: those in which the bacteria survive in, and is transmitted through, water; always a serious threat in areas with an untreated water supply.
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Environment - international agreementsThis entry separates country participation in international environmental agreements into two levels - party to and signed but not ratified. Agreements are listed in alphabetical order by the abbreviated form of the full name. Links are provided from each agreement to the Major International Environmental Agreements page, which contains the details of each agreement.
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Ethnic groupsThis entry provides a rank ordering of ethnic groups starting with the largest and normally includes the percent of total population.
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Exchange ratesThis entry provides the official value of a country's monetary unit at a given date or over a given period of time, as expressed in units of local currency per US dollar and as determined by international market forces or official fiat.
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Executive branchThis entry includes several subfields. Chief of state includes the name and title of the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government. Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. Cabinet includes the official name for this body of high-ranking advisers and the method for selection of members. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote for each candidate in the last election. In the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
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ExportsThis entry provides the total US dollar amount of exports on an f.o.b. (free on board) basis.
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Exports - commoditiesThis entry provides a rank ordering of exported products starting with the most important; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value.
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Exports - partnersThis entry provides a rank ordering of trading partners starting with the most important; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value.
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Fiscal yearThis entry identifies the beginning and ending months for a country's accounting period of 12 months, which often is the calendar year but which may begin in any month. All yearly references are for the calendar year (CY) unless indicated as a noncalendar fiscal year (FY).
GDPThis entry gives the gross domestic product (GDP) or value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. GDP dollar estimates in the Country Guide are derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations. See the note on GDP methodology for more information.
GDP methodologyIn the Economy section, GDP dollar estimates for all countries are derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations rather than from conversions at official currency exchange rates. The PPP method involves the use of standardized international dollar price weights, which are applied to the quantities of final goods and services produced in a given economy.
The data derived from the PPP method provide the best available starting point for comparisons of economic strength and well-being between countries. The division of a GDP estimate in domestic currency by the corresponding PPP estimate in dollars gives the PPP conversion rate. Whereas PPP estimates for OECD countries are quite reliable, PPP estimates for developing countries are often rough approximations. Most of the GDP estimates are based on extrapolation of PPP numbers published by the UN International Comparison Program (UNICP) and by Professors Robert Summers and Alan Heston of the University of Pennsylvania and their colleagues.
In contrast, the currency exchange rate method involves a variety of international and domestic financial forces that often have little relation to domestic output. In developing countries with weak currencies the exchange rate estimate of GDP in dollars is typically one-fourth to one-half the PPP estimate. Furthermore, exchange rates may suddenly go up or down by 10% or more because of market forces or official fiat whereas real output has remained unchanged. On 12 January 1994, for example, the 14 countries of the African Financial Community (whose currencies are tied to the French franc) devalued their currencies by 50%. This move, of course, did not cut the real output of these countries by half.
One important caution: the proportion of, say, defense expenditures as a percentage of GDP in local currency accounts may differ substantially from the proportion when GDP accounts are expressed in PPP terms, as, for example, when an observer tries to estimate the dollar level of Russian or Japanese military expenditures.
Note: the numbers for GDP and other economic data can not be chained together from successive volumes of the Country Guide because of changes in the US dollar measuring rod, revisions of data by statistical agencies, use of new or different sources of information, and changes in national statistical methods and practices.
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GDP - composition by sectorThis entry gives the percentage contribution of agriculture, industry, and services to total GDP.
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GDP - per capitaThis entry shows GDP on a purchasing power parity basis divided by population as of 1 July for the same year.
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GDP - real growth rateThis entry gives GDP growth on an annual basis adjusted for inflation and expressed as a percent.
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Geographic coordinatesThis entry includes rounded latitude and longitude figures for the purpose of finding the approximate geographic center of an entity and is based on the Gazetteer of Conventional Names, Third Edition, August 1988, US Board on Geographic Names and on other sources.
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GeographyThis category includes the entries dealing with the natural environment and the effects of human activity.
Geography - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous geographic information of significance not included elsewhere.
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GovernmentThis category includes the entries dealing with the system for the adoption and administration of public policy.
Government typeThis entry gives the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
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Government - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous government information of significance not included elsewhere.
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HeliportsThis entry gives the total number of established helicopter takeoff and landing sites (which may or may not have fuel or other services).
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HighwaysThis entry includes the total length of the highway system as well as the length of the paved and unpaved components.
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Household income or consumption by percentage shareData on household income or consumption come from household surveys, the results adjusted for household size. Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons.
Illicit drugsThis entry gives information on the five categories of illicit drugs - narcotics, stimulants, depressants (sedatives), hallucinogens, and cannabis. These categories include many drugs legally produced and prescribed by doctors as well as those illegally produced and sold outside of medical channels.
Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) is the common hemp plant, which provides hallucinogens with some sedative properties, and includes marijuana (pot, Acapulco gold, grass, reefer), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, Marinol), hashish (hash), and hashish oil (hash oil).
Coca (mostly Erythroxylum coca) is a bush with leaves that contain the stimulant used to make cocaine. Coca is not to be confused with cocoa, which comes from cacao seeds and is used in making chocolate, cocoa, and cocoa butter.
Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca bush.
Depressants (sedatives) are drugs that reduce tension and anxiety and include chloral hydrate, barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (Librium, Valium), methaqualone (Quaalude), glutethimide (Doriden), and others (Equanil, Placidyl, Valmid).
Drugs are any chemical substances that effect a physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral change in an individual.
Drug abuse is the use of any licit or illicit chemical substance that results in physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral impairment in an individual.
Hallucinogens are drugs that affect sensation, thinking, self-awareness, and emotion. Hallucinogens include LSD (acid, microdot), mescaline and peyote (mexc, buttons, cactus), amphetamine variants (PMA, STP, DOB), phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust, hog), phencyclidine analogues (PCE, PCPy, TCP), and others (psilocybin, psilocyn).
Hashish is the resinous exudate of the cannabis or hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).
Heroin is a semisynthetic derivative of morphine.
Mandrax is a trade name for methaqualone, a pharmaceutical depressant.
Marijuana is the dried leaves of the cannabis or hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).
Methaqualone is a pharmaceutical depressant, referred to as mandrax in Southwest Asia.
Narcotics are drugs that relieve pain, often induce sleep, and refer to opium, opium derivatives, and synthetic substitutes. Natural narcotics include opium (paregoric, parepectolin), morphine (MS-Contin, Roxanol), codeine (Tylenol with codeine, Empirin with codeine, Robitussan AC), and thebaine. Semisynthetic narcotics include heroin (horse, smack), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Synthetic narcotics include meperidine or Pethidine (Demerol, Mepergan), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), and others (Darvon, Lomotil).
Opium is the brown, gummy exudate of the incised, unripe seedpod of the opium poppy.
Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the source for the natural and semisynthetic narcotics.
Poppy straw concentrate is the alkaloid derived from the mature, dried opium poppy.
Qat (kat, khat) is a stimulant from the buds or leaves of Catha edulis that is chewed or drunk as tea.
Quaaludes is the North American slang term for methaqualone, a pharmaceutical depressant.
Stimulants are drugs that relieve mild depression, increase energy and activity, and include cocaine (coke, snow, crack), amphetamines (Desoxyn, Dexedrine), ephedrine, ecstasy (clarity, essence, doctor, Adam), phenmetrazine (Preludin), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and others (Cylert, Sanorex, Tenuate).
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ImportsThis entry provides the total US dollar amount of imports on a c.i.f. (cost, insurance, and freight) or f.o.b. (free on board) basis.
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Imports - commoditiesThis entry provides a rank ordering of imported products starting with the most important; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value.
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Imports - partnersThis entry provides a rank ordering of trading partners starting with the most important; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value.
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IndependenceFor most countries, this entry gives the date that sovereignty was achieved and from which nation, empire, or trusteeship. For the other countries, the date given may not represent "independence" in the strict sense, but rather some significant nationhood event such as the traditional founding date or the date of unification, federation, confederation, establishment, fundamental change in the form of government, or state succession. Dependent areas include the notation "none" followed by the nature of their dependency status. Also see the Terminology note.
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Industrial production growth rateThis entry gives the annual percentage increase in industrial production (includes manufacturing, mining, and construction).
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IndustriesThis entry provides a rank ordering of industries starting with the largest by value of annual output.
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Infant mortality rateThis entry gives the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.
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Inflation rate (consumer prices)This entry furnishes the annual percent change in consumer prices compared with the previous year's consumer prices.
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Internet Service Providers (ISPs)This entry supplies the number of Internet Service Providers within a country. An ISP is defined as a company that provides access to the Internet.
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International organization participationThis entry lists in alphabetical order by abbreviation those international organizations in which the subject country is a member or participates in some other way.
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IntroductionThis category includes one entry, Background.
Irrigated landThis entry gives the number of square kilometers of land area that is artificially supplied with water.
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Judicial branchThis entry contains the name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
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Labor forceThis entry contains the total labor force figure.
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Labor force - by occupationThis entry contains a rank ordering of component parts of the labor force by occupation.
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Land boundariesThis entry contains the total length of all land boundaries and the individual lengths for each of the contiguous border countries.
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Land useThis entry contains the percentage shares of total land area for five different types of land use: arable land - land cultivated for crops that are replanted after each harvest like wheat, maize, and rice; permanent crops - land cultivated for crops that are not replanted after each harvest like citrus, coffee, and rubber; permanent pastures - land permanently used for herbaceous forage crops; forests and woodland - land under dense or open stands of trees; other - any land type not specifically mentioned above, such as urban areas, roads, desert, etc.
LanguagesThis entry provides a rank ordering of languages starting with the most frequently spoken and sometimes includes the percent of total population speaking that language.
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Legal systemThis entry contains a brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
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Legislative branchThis entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
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Life expectancy at birthThis entry contains the average number of years to be lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. The entry includes total population as well as the male and female components. Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures.
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LiteracyThis entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition - the ability to read and write at a specified age. Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of the Country Guide. Information on literacy, while not a perfect measure of educational results, is probably the most easily available and valid for international comparisons. Low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.
LocationThis entry identifies the country's regional location, neighboring countries, and adjacent bodies of water.
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Map referencesThis entry includes the name of the Country Guide reference map on which a country may be found. The entry on Geographic coordinates may be helpful in finding some smaller countries.
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Maritime claimsThis entry includes the following claims: contiguous zone, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, exclusive fishing zone, extended fishing zone, none (usually for a landlocked country), other (unique maritime claims like Libya's Gulf of Sidra Closing Line or North Korea's Military Boundary Line), and territorial sea. The proximity of neighboring states may prevent some national claims from being extended the full distance.
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Merchant marineMerchant marine may be defined as all ships engaged in the carriage of goods; or all commercial vessels (as opposed to all nonmilitary ships), which excludes tugs, fishing vessels, offshore oil rigs, etc.; or a grouping of merchant ships by nationality or register. This entry contains information in two subfields - total and ships by type. Total includes the total number of ships (1,000 GRT or over), total DWT for those ships, and total GRT for those ships. Ships by type includes a listing of barge carriers, bulk cargo ships, cargo ships, combination bulk carriers, combination ore/oil carriers, container ships, intermodal ships, liquefied gas tankers, livestock carriers, multifunction large-load carriers, oil tankers, passenger ships, passenger-cargo ships, railcar carriers, refrigerated cargo ships, roll-on/roll-off cargo ships, short-sea passenger ships, specialized tankers, tanker tug-barges, and vehicle carriers.
A captive register is a register of ships maintained by a territory, possession, or colony primarily or exclusively for the use of ships owned in the parent country; it is also referred to as an offshore register, the offshore equivalent of an internal register. Ships on a captive register will fly the same flag as the parent country, or a local variant of it, but will be subject to the maritime laws and taxation rules of the offshore territory. Although the nature of a captive register makes it especially desirable for ships owned in the parent country, just as in the internal register, the ships may also be owned abroad. The captive register then acts as a flag of convenience register, except that it is not the register of an independent state.
A flag of convenience register is a national register offering registration to a merchant ship not owned in the flag state. The major flags of convenience (FOC) attract ships to their registers by virtue of low fees, low or nonexistent taxation of profits, and liberal manning requirements. True FOC registers are characterized by having relatively few of the registered ships actually owned in the flag state. Thus, while virtually any flag can be used for ships under a given set of circumstances, an FOC register is one where the majority of the merchant fleet is owned abroad. It is also referred to as an open register.
A flag state is the nation in which a ship is registered and which holds legal jurisdiction over operation of the ship, whether at home or abroad. Maritime legislation of the flag state determines how a ship is crewed and taxed and whether a foreign-owned ship may be placed on the register.
An internal register is a register of ships maintained as a subset of a national register. Ships on the internal register fly the national flag and have that nationality but are subject to a separate set of maritime rules from those on the main national register. These differences usually include lower taxation of profits, use of foreign nationals as crew members, and, usually, ownership outside the flag state (when it functions as an FOC register). The Norwegian International Ship Register and Danish International Ship Register are the most notable examples of an internal register. Both have been instrumental in stemming flight from the national flag to flags of convenience and in attracting foreign-owned ships to the Norwegian and Danish flags.
A merchant ship is a vessel that carries goods against payment of freight; it is commonly used to denote any nonmilitary ship but accurately restricted to commercial vessels only.
A register is the record of a ship's ownership and nationality as listed with the maritime authorities of a country; also, it is the compendium of such individual ships' registrations. Registration of a ship provides it with a nationality and makes it subject to the laws of the country in which registered (the flag state) regardless of the nationality of the ship's ultimate owner.
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MilitaryThis category includes the entries dealing with a country's military structure, manpower, and expenditures.
Military branchesThis entry lists the names of the ground, naval, air, marine, and other defense or security forces.
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Military expenditures - dollar figureThis entry gives current military expenditures in US dollars; the figure is calculated by multiplying the estimated defense spending in percentage terms by the gross domestic product (GDP) calculated on an exchange rate basis not purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. However, in the case of Russia, estimates of military expenditures have been made using PPP. Dollar figures for military expenditures should be treated with caution because of different price patterns and accounting methods among nations, as well as wide variations in the strength of their currencies.
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Military expenditures - percent of GDPThis entry gives current military expenditures as an estimated percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
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Military manpower - availabilityThis entry gives the total numbers of males and females age 15-49 and assumes that every individual is fit to serve.
Military manpower - fit for military serviceThis entry gives the number of males and females age 15-49 fit for military service. This is a more refined measure of potential military manpower availability which tries to correct for the health situation in the country and reduces the maximum potential number to a more realistic estimate of the actual number fit to serve.
Military manpower - military ageThis entry gives the minimum age at which an individual may volunteer for military service or be subject to conscription.
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Military manpower - reaching military age annuallyThis entry gives the number of draft-age males and females entering the military manpower pool in any given year and is a measure of the availability of draft-age young adults.
Military - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous military information of significance not included elsewhere.
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National holidayThis entry gives the primary national day of celebration - usually independence day.
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NationalityThis entry provides the identifying terms for citizens - noun and adjective.
Natural hazardsThis entry lists potential natural disasters.
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Natural resourcesThis entry lists a country's mineral, petroleum, hydropower, and other resources of commercial importance.
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Net migration rateThis entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons (based on midyear population). An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration (e.g., 3.56 migrants/1,000 population); an excess of persons leaving the country as net emigration (e.g., -9.26 migrants/1,000 population). The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population change. High levels of migration can cause problems such as increasing unemployment and potential ethnic strife (if people are coming in) or a reduction in the labor force, perhaps in certain key sectors (if people are leaving).
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PeopleThis category includes the entries dealing with the characteristics of the people and their society.
People - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous demographic information of significance not included elsewhere.
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PipelinesThis entry gives the lengths and types of pipelines for transporting products like natural gas, crude oil, or petroleum products.
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Political parties and leadersThis entry includes a listing of significant political organizations and their leaders.
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Political pressure groups and leadersThis entry includes a listing of organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
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PopulationThis entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: starting with the 1993 Country Guide, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account the effects of the growing impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. These countries are currently: The Bahamas, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
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Population below poverty lineNational estimates of the percentage of the population lying below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group. Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.
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Population growth rateThe average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as threatening by neighboring countries.
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Ports and harborsThis entry lists the major ports and harbors selected on the basis of overall importance to each country. This is determined by evaluating a number of factors (e.g., dollar value of goods handled, gross tonnage, facilities, military significance).
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Radio broadcast stationsThis entry includes the total number of AM, FM, and shortwave broadcast stations.
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RadiosThis entry gives the total number of radio receivers.
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RailwaysThis entry includes the total route length of the railway network and component parts by gauge: broad, dual, narrow, standard, and other.
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ReligionsThis entry includes a rank ordering of religions by adherents starting with the largest group and sometimes includes the percent of total population.
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Sex ratioThis entry includes the number of males for each female in five age groups - at birth, under 15 years, 15-64 years, 65 years and over, and for the total population. Sex ratio at birth has recently emerged as an indicator of certain kinds of sex discrimination in some countries. For instance, high sex ratios at birth in some Asian countries are now attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for sons. This will affect future marriage patterns and fertility patterns. Eventually it could cause unrest among young adult males who are unable to find partners.
SuffrageThis entry gives the age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted.
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Telephone systemThis entry includes a brief characterization of the system with details on the domestic and international components. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry:
Africa ONE: a fiber-optic submarine cable link encircling the continent of Africa.
Arabsat: Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
Autodin: Automatic Digital Network (US Department of Defense).
CB: citizen's band mobile radio communications.
cellular telephone system: the telephones in this system are radio transceivers, with each instrument having its own private radio frequency and sufficient radiated power to reach the booster station in its area (cell), from which the telephone signal is fed to a regular telephone exchange.
Central American Microwave System: a trunk microwave radio relay system that links the countries of Central America and Mexico with each other.
coaxial cable: a multichannel communication cable consisting of a central conducting wire, surrounded by and insulated from a cylindrical conducting shell; a large number of telephone channels can be made available within the insulated space by the use of a large number of carrier frequencies.
Comsat: Communications Satellite Corporation (US).
DSN: Defense Switched Network (formerly Automatic Voice Network or Autovon); basic general-purpose, switched voice network of the Defense Communications System (US Department of Defense).
Eutelsat: European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Paris).
fiber-optic cable: a multichannel communications cable using a thread of optical glass fibers as a transmission medium in which the signal (voice, video, etc.) is in the form of a coded pulse of light.
GSM: a global system for mobile (cellular) communications devised by the Groupe Special Mobile of the pan-European standardization organization, Conference Europeanne des Posts et Telecommunications (CEPT) in 1982.
HF: high-frequency; any radio frequency in the 3,000- to 30,000-kHz range.
Inmarsat: International Mobile Satellite Organization (London); provider of global mobile satellite communications for commercial, distress, and safety applications at sea, in the air, and on land.
Intelsat: International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Washington, DC).
Intersputnik: International Organization of Space Communications (Moscow); first established in the former Soviet Union and the East European countries, it is now marketing its services worldwide with earth stations in North America, Africa, and East Asia.
landline: communication wire or cable of any sort that is installed on poles or buried in the ground.
Marecs: Maritime European Communications Satellite used in the Inmarsat system on lease from the European Space Agency.
Marisat: satellites of the Comsat Corporation that participate in the Inmarsat system.
Medarabtel: the Middle East Telecommunications Project of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) providing a modern telecommunications network, primarily by microwave radio relay, linking Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen; it was initially started in Morocco in 1970 by the Arab Telecommunications Union (ATU) and was known at that time as the Middle East Mediterranean Telecommunications Network.
microwave radio relay: transmission of long distance telephone calls and television programs by highly directional radio microwaves that are received and sent on from one booster station to another on an optical path.
NMT: Nordic Mobile Telephone; an analog cellular telephone system that was developed jointly by the national telecommunications authorities of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden).
Orbita: a Russian television service; also the trade name of a packet-switched digital telephone network.
radiotelephone communications: the two-way transmission and reception of sounds by broadcast radio on authorized frequencies using telephone handsets.
PanAmSat: PanAmSat Corporation (Greenwich, CT).
satellite communication system: a communication system consisting of two or more earth stations and at least one satellite that provides long distance transmission of voice, data, and television; the system usually serves as a trunk connection between telephone exchanges; if the earth stations are in the same country, it is a domestic system.
satellite earth station: a communications facility with a microwave radio transmitting and receiving antenna and required receiving and transmitting equipment for communicating with satellites.
satellite link: a radio connection between a satellite and an earth station permitting communication between them, either one-way (down link from satellite to earth station - television receive-only transmission) or two-way (telephone channels).
SHF: super-high-frequency; any radio frequency in the 3,000- to 30,000-MHz range.
shortwave: radio frequencies (from 1.605 to 30 MHz) that fall above the commercial broadcast band and are used for communication over long distances.
Solidaridad: geosynchronous satellites in Mexico's system of international telecommunications in the Western Hemisphere.
Statsionar: Russia's geostationary system for satellite telecommunications.
submarine cable: a cable designed for service under water.
TAT: Trans-Atlantic Telephone; any of a number of high-capacity submarine coaxial telephone cables linking Europe with North America.
telefax: facsimile service between subscriber stations via the public switched telephone network or the international Datel network.
telegraph: a telecommunications system designed for unmodulated electric impulse transmission.
telex: a communication service involving teletypewriters connected by wire through automatic exchanges.
tropospheric scatter: a form of microwave radio transmission in which the troposphere is used to scatter and reflect a fraction of the incident radio waves back to earth; powerful, highly directional antennas are used to transmit and receive the microwave signals; reliable over-the-horizon communications are realized for distances up to 600 miles in a single hop; additional hops can extend the range of this system for very long distances.
trunk network: a network of switching centers, connected by multichannel trunk lines.
UHF: ultra-high-frequency; any radio frequency in the 300- to 3,000-MHz range.
VHF: very-high-frequency; any radio frequency in the 30- to 300-MHz range.
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Telephones - main lines in useThis entry gives the total number of main telephone lines in use.
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Telephones - mobile cellularThis entry gives the total number of mobile cellular telephones in use.
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Television - broadcast stationsThis entry gives the total number of separate broadcast stations plus any repeater stations.
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TelevisionsThis entry gives the total number of television sets.
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TerrainThis entry contains a brief description of the topography.
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Total fertility rateThis entry gives a figure for the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age. The total fertility rate is a more direct measure of the level of fertility than the crude birth rate, since it refers to births per woman. This indicator shows the potential for population growth in the country. High rates will also place some limits on the labor force participation rates for women. Large numbers of children born to women indicate large family sizes that might limit the ability of the families to feed and educate their children.
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Transnational IssuesThis category includes only two entries at the present time - Disputes - international and Illicit drugs - that deal with current issues going beyond national boundaries.
TransportationThis category includes the entries dealing with the means for movement of people and goods.
Transportation - noteThis entry includes miscellaneous transportation information of significance not included elsewhere.
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Unemployment rateThis entry contains the percent of the labor force that is without jobs. Substantial underemployment might be noted.
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WaterwaysThis entry gives the total length and individual names of navigable rivers, canals, and other inland bodies of water.
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