Hobson's choice

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The Independent Culture
Ranking of Sweden, which has 7 per cent of its population classified as being in poverty, in a list of the world's most equitable countries: 1

Square kilometres of forest for each 1,000 of the world's inhabitants in 1970: 11.4

Square kilometres of forest for each 1,000 of the world's inhabitants in 1998: 7.3

Number of red colobus monkeys left on Zanzibar: 2,000

Length of a red colobus monkey's feet relative to the length of its legs, enabling it routinely to jump 25 feet between treetops: 1:2

Length of time in years that the President Yasser Arafat Airport in Gaza has been ready for business but, until the Wye River Memorandum, unauthorised to open: 1

Chances that a crime in Britain will involve a car: 1 in 4

Average number of call-outs per week by the RAC and AA last year to

breakdowns caused by faulty engine immobilisers: 1,700

Number of private investigators in the UK: 10,000

Amount Kenneth Starr spent on a photocopier: $56,810

Number of US states in which oral sex between consenting, married, heterosexual adults is illegal: 15

Number of girls under 16 in England and Wales who become pregnant every year: 9,000

Number of McDonald's restaurants opening around the world a day: 6

Number of sparklers needed to generate the heat of a blowtorch: 3

Number of American college and high school students using Ritalin, the drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder: 2.5 million

Hour at which a woman prescribed slimming pills, "Black Bombers" by her G.P. in the 1950s - a period of her life she described as "Oh, it was just go, go, go" - used to get her children out of bed to wash their sheets: 3 am

SOURCES: UN Human Development Report, National Geographic, The Asian Age, Daily Telegraph, Girl About Town, The Guardian, Red, Times Educational Supplement, International Herald Tribune, TES, Channel 4/Daily Telegraph, Department of Trade and Industry.