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From ABBA To IT?

Sweden has the best "information economy" in the world, according to a recent study.

Pickled herring, meatballs, furniture, and ... information technology? It's true: Sweden's IT infrastructure is among its specialties, according to a recent study by International Data Corp. The research organization has selected Sweden as having the best "information economy" in the world, using an index that measures the ability of a country's citizenry to exchange information.

Sweden took the top spot with its highly developed IT infrastructure, advanced educational systems, and for facilitating growth of geographical business clusters such as "Wireless Valley" and "Telematics Valley," the study reports. Also consider that 74% of Swedes have mobile phones; Sweden has cheap broadband service and high broadband penetration; and a large proportion of its citizens use Internet-based government services to look for jobs, register autos, and get birth and marriage certificates.

In general, Northern Europe outshines the rest of the globe when it comes to IT, including the leader of the free world: The United States ranks fourth behind No. 2 Norway and No. 3 Switzerland. Rounding out the top 10 are Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Finland, Australia, and Taiwan.

The study tracked 55 countries that account for 98% of IT in the world. Among the 23 indicators considered were the number of PCs per capita, percentage of networked PCs, amount of E-commerce, Internet use in the home, secondary-school enrollment, newspaper readership, and civil liberties. The lowest scores went to Egypt, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan (ranked last). Those countries' progress in IT is inconsistent, according to the study, usually because of limited financial resources in relation to vast populations. Nearly 100 additional countries weren't tracked for the study, because their use of IT is almost nonexistent.

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