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Czech Republic gets top UN Rating

Copenhagen, July 17 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Development program's seventh annual report says the Czech Republic is the best country in Central and Eastern Europe to live in 1996, in terms of life expectancy, national prosperity, and literacy.

The UN Develoment Program (UNDP) surveyed 174 countries worldwide and made its findings public early today in Copenhagen.

The report makes recommendations on how to combine economic growth with a rise in the quality of life. It says economic growth is only part of the key to raising living standards. The UNDP says there must also be investment in the development of human resources.

The report concludes that the gap betwen rich and poor countries is widening. Of the 174 countries surveyed, 89 have declined economicaly in the last decade. That includes all of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The report finds the Czech Republic 38th overall on its 1996 chart of human development among the countries surveyed. In Eastern and Central Europe, the other nations in what the report calls its "high" human development category world-wide are Slovakia 41st, Hungary 46th, Latvia 55th, and Russia 57th.

Medium are Belarus, Bulgaria , Estonia, Romania, Ukraine, Lithuania, Turmenistan. Armenia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Albania, China, and Mongolia.

The UN report says that the best countries in the world in human development are Canada, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. It says the worst is Niger, a landlocked nation of more than five million population in West Africa.