Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist

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Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist

Category: Reference
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The 22nd edition of this annual best-seller is fact-filled, interesting and thought-provoking as ever.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 236 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Economist Books
ISBN: 978-1846685996

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Pocket World in Figures 2013 is the twenty-second edition of the annual bestseller and once again it follows the tried and tested format. It opens with world rankings and is straight into natural facts - the largest this, the longest that and the highest of the other. The facts are largely incontrovertible, mostly unsurprising and they're going to be the same year after year. Populations do change though as do their rate of growth. India looks set to overtake China as the largest population by 2025 but even India doesn't have the fastest growing population - that's Niger, with an average annual growth of 3.52%. By contrast, Russia which currently has the ninth largest population, is declining at 0.1% annually. If you're looking for the place with the densest population (as in people per square kilometre rather than in terms of intelligence!) then that's Macau.

There are facts and figures on over two hundred topics and these are followed by detailed profiles of most of the world's major economies. The figures are obviously not completely up-to-date but they're as good as you could expect. There are fewer than seventy of these profiles but more would make the book rather more than pocket-sized - but I still worry about Iceland's finances and I would have liked to have had a closer look.

As with all Economist books there's an absence of fluff and padding - or, as some might call it, explanation and this is the book's strength and its weakness. Is the UK's rail network nearly as large as the one in France? Canada is a surprising absentee from the countries with the most air travel and do more tourists arrive in Indonesia than the United States? The figures might be surprising but correct, but I would love to have known a little more of the background.

There are some new features this year. Top of the world rankings for mobile banking is Kenya where it's apparently used by 68% of the population. This is the percentage of people who used a mobile phone to pay a bill or send or receive money. There's a footnote which says that high-income economies are excluded, but in a country where there are just nine cars per thousand population it's a pointer to the way the world is changing. Less surprising is the list of the most popular museums and art galleries - the most popular by a long way is the Louvre.

I don't think the book's perfect but it would be hard to beat as a concise source of information whether you want it for work or just for interest - I can waste hours just looking through it and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

We're consistently impressed by books by The Economist – you might like to have a look at what they offer.

Buy Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2013 by The Economist at Amazon.com.


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