Making Sense of the World: If You Find That Trying to Understand the World by Digesting Facts and Figures Makes Your Head Hurt, Then the State of the World Atlas Is for You. Now in Its Ninth Edition, It Is Unique in Presenting Current Events and Global Trends in a Factual, Graphic and Easily Comprehensible Manner. Stephen Williams Reports

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THE STATE OF THE WORLD ATLAS was compiled and edited by Dan Smith, the secretary-general of International Alert, the international peace-building organisation. Being both meticulously researched and ingeniously designed, it graphically presents almost every key indicator and vital statistic of modern life.

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Here you will find countries and their populations; human diversity and issues surrounding wealth and poverty. So too, the Atlas presents the tough realities of conflict and suffering; human rights and their abuses; the health of the world's population and the wellbeing of the planet itself.

It is not absolutely comprehensive--for examples somewhat surprisingly given the amount of attention the subject has received, it neglects to present the situation regarding youth unemployment. But as Dan Smith told New African, he spent many sleepless nights worrying about what this Atlas contained, and in many ways he was constrained by the lack of reliable statistics.

country's GNI larger than revenue of any transnational

country's GNI smaller  Walmart employs 2.1 million people and
than Walmart ($421.8   sells to 100 million customers a week.
billion) but bigger    Its 2010 sales revenue exceeded the
than: Nestle           combined GNI of the world's 62 smallest
                       economies. 80% of its suppliers are in
                       China. A legal case, started in 2000,
                       sued Walmart for discrimination against
                       1.5 million current and former women
                       employees. In 2011, the US Supreme Court
                       dismissed the case on the grounds that
                       the women could not pursue it as a single
                       group.

country's GNI smaller  Nestle operates in 86 countries and has
than: Nestle ($105.3   30% of the global market for baby food.
billion) but bigger    The way it sells substitutes for breast
Than: Kraft Foods      milk remains controversial. An
                       international boycott started by consumer
                       activists in 1977 is still active in over
                       100 countries.

country's GNI smaller  Kraft sells in 170 countries. 40 of its
than Kraft Foods but   brands are more than a century old. It
bigger than:           started in 1903. Its first-year losses
McDonald's             amounted to $3,000 and one horse, in 1915
                       the company invented pasteurized
                       processed cheese. …