From the Reference Desk

The beauty of working at a reference desk is that I have access to all kinds of information, and I can easily grab a reference book at random and review it.

Today I pulled off the shelf The Illustrated Book of World Rankings. (5th ed. Kurian. Edited by George Thomas. Armonk: Sharpe, 2001). It ranks the world’s countries according to various economic, labor force, and educational statistics. With these types of rankings, I usually look right away at which country is ranked first and which is ranked last. So here are the First and Last ranked countries in the world according to various statistics that I found interesting, with some commentary added.

First and Last countries in producing chickens:


First and Last countries in miles of railroad:
United States/Monaco

Monaco has 1 mile of railroad within an area of 0.75 square miles (Encyclopedia of the Nations). The Vatican doesn’t even register.

First and Last countries in the number of heads of cattle:

According to this book, the islands of the Seychelles and American Samoa each have only one cow in the whole country. Cow is the lonliest number.

First and Last countries in the number of nurses:
United States/Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe, a small island nation near the coast of Africa, registers only one nurse in the entire country.

First and Last countries in area of forested lands:
Russia/United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Six countries actually register only 1 sq. km of forested area: El Salvador, Gambia, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and the UAE. El Salvador??

First and Last countries in average farm size:
Mongolia/Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s average farm size is only 0.3 hectares.

First and Last countries in burglary rates:
Gibraltar/Myanmar (Burma)

Apparently people don’t burglarize much in a military dictatorship.


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