Remember the Star Trek computer, which yields instant answers to puzzling questions? It is finally happening in the real world – with the WolfranAlpha app, which I bought on the Itunes App store for my iPad. The app uses its vast collection of algorithms and data to compute answers and generates reports for you quickly and across a wide range of topics – from astronomy to physics, mathematics to culture, geography to finance etc.
As an experiment, I started my search asking for places with the highest population density. The top five most densely populated places are, not surprising, small city states. In order of density, they are Macau (19,433 people per sq. km), Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Gaza Strip (at a mere 4,456 people per sq.km).
My next question is on life expectancy and interestingly, Macau – a former Portuguese colony in the South China Sea and now a Special Administrative Region of China – again tops the list at 84.4 years. With the exception of Japan (in third place), the other top places for high life expectancy are small city states – Andorra in second place, Singapore and San Marino respectively in fourth and fifth places.
A question on GDP per capita generates a list of the top five – Monaco (at US$212,000 per year), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Bermuda, and Qatar (at US$89,000 per year). All five are small city states. It seems to be easier to be rich and enjoy a long life if you live in a small place in Europe or Asia.
The difference in wealth between these richest city states and the poorest countries – all in Africa – is staggering. According to another report generated by WolfranAlpha, the poorest five countries show GDP per capita of US$144 per year (Burunda) to US$288 per year (Malawi). The other three in the poorest list are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau.
Download the app and have fun with it.