A Fascinating Graphic: Comparing Chinese Provinces With Countries

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Several months ago The Economist released a fascinating graphic on China, titled “Comparing Chinese Provinces With Countries.” As the title implies, this graphic compares each of China’s provinces with different countries. The comparisons are GDP, GDP per person, population, and exports. There are a number of interesting things that the graphic shows.

Unsurprisingly, China does “best” in the population graph. While everybody knows that China’s population is the largest in the world, the sheer size of China’s population can still sometimes come as a shock. The province Anhui by itself has the same population as that of Great Britain, for instance. And there are seven provinces with higher populations than Anhui; the most populated province, Guangdong, has 58% more population than Anhui. On the low side of things comes Tibet, which covers a lot of space but has a mere 3.0 million residents (smaller than some American cities). It’s pretty astonishing to see how small Tibet’s actual population is, given the huge amount of news coverage devoted to it.

The exports graph is also interesting. Most provinces have absolutely tiny exports, belying China’s reputation as an exporting power. Beijing, for instance, exports only 29.2 billion in goods – about the same as Oman. Five coastal provinces account for 77% of China’s total exports; of those five, Guangdong alone is 30% of China’s total exports.

Humorously, the highest rated comment (by far) on the article goes “I cannot find Taiwan.”As a newspaper published by the United Kingdom, The Economist does not include Taiwan as a Chinese province. A Chinese version of the same graphic, of course, would include Taiwan.

Finally, there is one area where China does quite badly: per capita income. The average income each person makes for most provinces reads like a who’s list of Third World, developing countries – Angola, El Salvador, Namibia. This is after thirty years of enormous economic growth, which really makes one think about how poor China was back in the days of Mao Zedong.

The poorest province of China is Guizhou, in which GDP per person is only $3,335. GDP per person in Guizhou is lower than that of the African countries Congo-Brazzaville and Swaziland. But guess which country Guizhou’s GDP is closest to:

India!

GDP per capita in the poorest province of China – a province poorer than several sub-Saharan African countries – is the same as GDP per capita in India. It makes one realize that India, for all its recent economic success, is still really really poor.

 

 

“Re-Greening” the Sahel Through Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration

Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

For centuries, farmers in the Sahel-a band of land that crosses Africa at the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert-used rotational tree farming to provide year-round harvests and a consistent source of food, fuel, and fertilizer. But severe droughts and rapid population growth in the 1970s and 80s significantly degraded the Sahel's farmland, leading to the loss of many indigenous tree species and leaving the soil barren and eroded. With the loss of the trees went the knowledge, traditions, and practices that had kept the region fertile for hundreds of years.

To save the land as well as local livelihoods, many traditional management practices are now being revived. One inexpensive method of farming that helps to restore the Sahel's degraded land is so-called Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) (see also Millions Fed: "Re-Greening the Sahel: Farmer-led Innovation in Burkina Faso and Niger"). By pruning shoots that periodically and naturally sprout from below-ground root webs, farmers can promote forest growth and take advantage of a naturally occurring source of fuel, food, or animal fodder.

The trees produce fruit rich in nutrients and help to restore the soil by releasing nitrogen and protecting the ground from erosion by wind and rain. The cultivated but naturally occurring forest also creates a local source of firewood and mulch, reducing the time spent in gathering fuel for cooking meals and cleaning households (see Reducing the Things They Carry). The practice also cuts down on deforestation as the trees that are used for fuel are replaced with seedlings and tended by farmers.

"Farmer-managed natural regeneration is a fairly simple technique, but it produces multiple benefits," explained Chris Reij, a natural resources management specialist with the Center for International Cooperation (and advisor to the Nourishing the Planet Project), at an Oxfam-hosted panel on locally driven agriculture innovations in Washington, D.C., last October. "Sometimes planting trees make sense, but in terms of costs and long-time success, in many cases it makes more sense to use natural regeneration."

As important as the technique itself is, even more important is making sure that farmers in the Sahel know about it. When farmers learn how they can benefit from the practice, they are quick to adopt it, improving their own livelihoods and food security while regenerating local forests. Reij attributes the overwhelming success of FMNR in Niger-where many villages have 10-20 times more trees than 20 years ago-to the reduced central-government presence in rural areas. With the government distracted by political conflict, forest management now belongs almost completely to the local farmers who benefit from FMNR the most. (See also Aid Groups, Farmers Collaborate to Re-Green Sahel.)

To ensure that even more farmers know about FMNR and its benefits, the Web Alliance for the Re-Greening in Africa (W4RA), a joint project between African Re-Greening Initiatives (ARI), the Web Foundation, and VU Amsterdam, is helping to create web-based information exchanges between farmers. Meanwhile, the organization SahelEco has initiated two projects, Trees Outside the Forest and the Re-Greening the Sahel Initiative, to encourage policymakers, farmers' organizations, and government leaders throughout the region to provide the support and legislation needed to put the responsibility of managing trees on agricultural land into the hands of farmers.

To read more about agroforestry and other ways that agriculture can restore degraded land, see: An Evergreen Revolution? Using Trees to Nourish the Planet, It's About More Than Trees at the World Agroforestry Centre, Trees as Crops in Africa, and Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use.

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Minorities now the Majority in Key States in the US

No wonder our "Xenophobe in Chief" Lou Dobbs is looking more worried each day. While we Democrats talk of turning red states blue, the demographic map  of the rainbow of people who make up the diverse population of the US is shifting, and in many areas of the US, "minorities" (a euphemism for people  of color; blacks, latinos, asians and Native Americans) are now the majority.

The US Census Bureau's  recent report shows interesting shifts in racial/ethnic demographics.

The NY Times reports:
Minorities Often a Majority of the Population Under 20


Foreshadowing the nation's changing makeup, one in four American counties have passed or are approaching the tipping point where black, Hispanic and Asian children constitute a majority of the under-20 population, according to analyses of census figures released Thursday.

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Second Guessing Conservative Tax Theory

Last week the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance released a report based on their interpretation of U.S. Census data.  According to their report, they almost seemed reluctant to admit that Wisconsin's tax burden has gone down for the last several years.  Even so the group ranks Wisconsin as the nation's sixth-highest in taxes for 2004.

Although there is research that demonstrates that this high tax reputation is more hype than fact, there is a different point to be made here.  So for the sake of argument, let's say that the WISTAX ratings are accurate.

Rounding out their list of states with the highest taxes: they rank Vermont in 5th place, then Hawaii, Maine, Wyoming, and the highest taxed state is New York.

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KIVA microlending Update II: Integrated Internet Development Policy Revisited

In my last article on this topic, I reintroduced KIVA and showed how 1.) what they do really can help create successful small businesses in East Africa and how those businesses help the community in which they exist, and 2.) how our efforts on the blogsphere have helped KIVA become so successful that they cannot keep up with the outpouring of help. But they are also bringing on the businesses in need of loans faster than ever, so jeep checking back. Congratulations to all who are making this such a success.


In this diary I want to reiterate the context in which KIVA works and how we also have to help that context. This will partly be a reiteration of diaries I have written before, explaining why I am calling for an "integrated" approach to development that we in the blogsphere can participate in. This is my vision of how you and I can change the world from the bottom up.

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