HOBSON'S CHOICE

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Amount spent on arms by Taiwan last year, making it the world's largest arms purchaser:

$4.6bn

Amount already scheduled by the US government in assistance to the Colombian military, making it the third largest recipient of US aid after Israel and Egypt:

$289m

Number of chemicals needed to extract cocaine from coca leaves:

41

Number of people arrested for cannabis-related offences in the UK last year:

72,000

Number of Britons arrested for Ecstasy possession anywhere in the Balearic islands between 1990 and 1996:

0

Number of Britons arrested for Ecstasy possession in the Balearic islands in 1997, when 600,000 Britons went on holiday to Ibiza:

2

Number of meteorites found in Antarctica in the last 22 years:

16,000

Percentage of the world's freshwater in Antarctica's ice cap:

70

Number of years during which rain has not fallen on parts of Antarctica:

2 million

Percentage of the world's energy used in the US, of which 8 per cent is renewable:

50

Chances that an American child taking a packed lunch to school either swaps it for another lunch or throws it away:

1 in 4

Number of years the Indian Council of Medical Research has been investigating the Union Carbide industrial disaster in Bhopal, which killed 4,000 people, during which time all relevant medical data has been classified information:

15

Number of Aboriginal languages spoken at the time of the first European contact with Australia:

250

Of the 100 Aboriginal languages still spoken, number taught to Aboriginal children:

20

Number of people still speaking the Aboriginal language Yidijn, one of whom is Professor Bob Dixon of the Australian National University:

2

Number of cultures collected by Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems from the gut and saliva bacteria of Russian cosmonauts, which will be used to culture a new type of yoghurt on sale in the autumn:

1,000

Number of species of palm tree, which Linnaeus called the "prince of the vegetable kingdom":

2,800

SOURCES: NATION, BIG ISSUE, GEOGRAPHICAL, NEW SCIENTIST, GUARDIAN WEEKLY, SCIENCE, THES, BUSINESS WIRE, REUTERS, LE MONDE

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