Norway world’s best place to live

I’m not sure if everybody wants to live in Norway, but it’s certainly at the top of the global list. The United Nations Development Program determined this based on data GDP, education and life expectancy – among other metrics – to find the best of the best, as well as the other end of the spectrum. The data’s from 2007, though, so it doesn’t reflect a post-financial crisis world.

Joining Norway are Australia and Iceland, the latter of which was a hot location until a year ago, when the entire country got an International Monetary Fund package normally reserved for the third-est of third-world countries. Yet, even with the recession in mind, Iceland (a favorite destination of mine) is still far better than Niger, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, which sit at the bottom of the list. Several other sub-Saharan African states also ranked toward the bottom because of ongoing war and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS.

The spread is most evident in life expectancy, where a mailing address in Norway would add 30 years relative to Niger. In Niger, the current average life expectancy is 50. And, for every dollar that someone earns in Niger, the same person would pick up $85 in Norway. In Afghanistan, one can expect to live only 43.6 years.

Money matters, still. Lichtenstein continues to boast the world’s highest GDP per capital at $85,383. The 35,000 people who live there share the small principality with 15 banks and more than 100 wealth management companies. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the lowest income in the world: $298 per person per year.

The top climbers on the list for 2007 were China, Iran and Nepal.

Africa is calling: students can win trip in video competition

Students, listen up! Want to win a volunteer service trip to Africa?

Alicia Keys’ charity “Keep a Child Alive” and STA Travel are sending two people in January 2010. If you’re interested, you’ll want to apply by submitting a 60-second video that encourages people to text “ALIVE” to 90999. With every text, $5 gets donated to AIDS treatment for children and families in Africa.

Apply by May 1, 2009. First upload your video to YouTube, then finish the application by uploading it to www.statravelers.com/kca_psa_entries. What types of videos are they they looking for? “Creative, imaginative, innovative, and upbeat.”

To enter, you must be a full- or part-time student of an accredited college or high school, and be registered at KCACollege.com and belong to your local chapter. You must also be 18 years-old by 1/1/10.

The two Grand Prize winners will each get a free round-trip air ticket to work with Keep a Child Alive for one week in January 2010. The winning videos will also be aired on KCA TV (YouTube), on www.KCACollege.com, and at KCA events throughout the next year.

Keep a Child Alive is a charity dedicated to providing life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, care, and support services to children and their families with HIV/AIDS in Africa and the developing world by directly engaging the global public in the fight against AIDS.

The winners of last year’s competition just traveled to South Africa this past January. You can follow photos and videos that previous winners (journeywithtinamarie, SaddlerB, Eila401am) took from the trip, and you’ll soon be able to follow their blogs on STATravelers.com.

Photo of the Day (1.10.09)


First, this from natavillage.org:

On March 4, 2006, Nata made history by becoming the first village in Botswana with a website. natavillage.org is a unique opportunity for the reader to witness the battle to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in an African village. Botswana has the second highest HIV infection rate in the world (37% for ages 15-49). The co-founders, a Canadian traveler, a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, and a local businessman were all frustrated that millions of dollars pour into Botswana due to the AIDS pandemic yet little money reaches remote villages like Nata.

The site offers the visitor 3 videoblogs, a 10 minute documentary, over 350 flickr photos and a blog that gives the reader an intimate look into the lives of the villagers. The reader is given the opportunity to donate directly to the village and the funds are managed transparently by a local 6 member board of trustees with very little overhead cost. The donor can see the results of their generosity through regular photos of what is purchased.

People living with AIDS in Nata must travel 60 miles to reach the ARV (anti-retroviral ) clinic. Many can’t afford the $4.00 bus fare. The trust provides transportation money for all members to reach their life saving ARV’s. The trust also purchased a sound system and generator for an out of school youth group that provides vital HIV/AIDS educational activities to Nata and the surrounding villages. We hope to serve as a model for other villages and change the way aid is distributed in the developing world.

There’s not a lot more to say about this photo from jonrawlinson other than that it’s a perfect shot taken in Botswana of a Masarwa man. The creation of natavillage.org is certainly an inspiring story and a cause worth contributing to in this new year.

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Drink for charity, starting now

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Presents Cocktails for a CureKimpton, that hotel and restaurant group that’s paying your baggage fees, has released their holiday beverages, calling them “Cocktails for a Cure.” You can now donate to HIV and AIDS charities by getting sauced at Kimpton hotels and restaurants all across the U.S. and Canada.

The beverages, created by their master mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout, are:

  • Rouge on the Rocks – Milagro Blanco Tequila, Grand Marnier, raspberries and mint
  • Scarlet Night – Bacardi Rum, Campari and white peach puree
  • Ruby Sparkle – Grey Goose Vodka, Grand Marnier, pomegranate juice and sparkling wine

Each costs $12, and every time you purchase one, $1 will be donated to one of the featured charities (listed after the jump). $1 doesn’t sound like a lot to you? Better have five cocktails. Don’t be stingy.

Kimpton’s “Cocktails for a Cure” promotion is part of an annual Red Ribbon campaign. For more than two decades, Kimpton has assisted HIV and AIDS service organizations across North America through employee volunteerism, educational campaigns, corporate donations, and raising funds through special events.
The Cocktails for a Cure event will continue through the end of December, and may benefit a charity near you:
AIDSCare (Chicago); AIDS Housing Corporation (Boston); AIDS Project (Los Angeles); Bailey House Inc. (New York City); Cascade AIDS Project (Portland); Colorado AIDS Project; Design Industries Foundation fighting AIDS (Dallas); Lifelong AIDS Alliance (Seattle); Mama’s Kitchen (San Diego); Phoenix Children’s Hospital; The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (San Francisco); Utah AIDS Foundation; Vancouver Friends for Life Society; and Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington DC).

Click here to find out where to go drink for a cure.

South Africa Holds Sex Fair

South Africa was once ruled by Puritan Dutch and French settlers. During apartheid, customs officials not only confiscated pornography but occasionally detained people trying to import it. Oh, how things have changed. Now, with one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, the nation held its first-ever sex fair. At “Sexpo SA,” around 40,000 attendees lined up to examine erotic sex toys, learn how to pole dance, and finger some naughty lingerie.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. South Africa has one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics, with an estimated 12 percent of its 47 million citizens infected. 1,000 people a day die from the virus and another 1,500 per day contract it. A “handful” of health advocacy groups set up stands, including LoveLife Trust, the national HIV prevention program for young people.

Read the full story at Reuters.