Live long and prosper: Factbook has the answer

Mon Sep 7, 2009 6:06am EDT
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By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - Searching for the secret to a long and happy life?

Then watch your back in Belize, keep off Qatar's roads and consider moving to Japan, where people live the longest and have access to the most hospital beds.

That's the message from the latest edition of The Economist magazine's annual book of global economic statistics and quirky facts, "Pocket World in Figures."

Often described as the fact-lover's Bible, it covers more than 200 subjects in 189 countries, from GDP figures and exports to internet and obesity rates, and is sold around the world.

Japan tops the life expectancy table with an average of 82.7 years, ahead of Andorra, Hong Kong and Italy. Bottom of the pile are Afghanistan (43.8 years) and Zimbabwe (44.1).

In a quality of life table, Japan was ranked 8th in the world, with Iceland and Norway tied for the top place, followed by Canada and Australia.

"If you don't have the facts, you can never really get close to the truth," its editor Stephen Brough told Reuters. "People love accumulating information and surprising their friends."