New York/Prague - Czechs are notorious complainers. "Don´t even ask," can be as good an answer to "How are you doing?" as anything, as far as they are concerned. But if international statistics on the quality of life are to be trusted, people in the Czech Republic really have little to complain about.
The country ranks 32nd among 177 states and territories evaluated for the purposes of the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), released on Tuesday.
With the exception of Slovenia which has finished 27th just like a year ago, there is no other more desirable country to live in across the whole Central and Eastern Europe.
Doing just fine
There is still a long way to go to reach the top of the index, released annually since 1990 and based on the figures for life expectancy, educational levels and real per capita income, but comfort can be drawn from the fact that the country is doing fine.
Its slipping by two bars can be explained not by the things taking a turn for the worse here, but for the progress achieved by Barbados and oil-rich sultanate of Brunei which have both overtaken the Czech Republic in the index.
There have been changes at the very top too with Iceland stealing the crown from Norway and the United States slipping to 12th place from eighth last year.
The bottom of the table is not much different from the past with the AIDS-afflicted sub-Saharan African states flocking at the very tail. Yemen (#153) came out as the least desirable non-African country to live in, whereas in Asia the uncoveted title belongs to East Timor (#150).
Room for improvement
The authors of the survey did have some critical remarks for the Czech Republic in its "Going behind income" part, which is not reflected in the actual rankings.
They noted that 47 countries have a better ratio than Czech Republic's in the so-called gender-related development index, which measures achievements in the same dimensions using the same indicators as the HDI but captures inequalities in achievement between women and men.
They also pointed out more needs to be done in order to fight climate change.
"With 0.2% of the world's population, Czech Republic accounts for 0.4% of global emissions - an average of 11.4 tonnes of CO2 per person. These emission levels are above those of Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS (= Commonwealth of Independent States - former republics of the Soviet Union sans the Baltic states)," reads the part of the report where the global warming issue is dealt with.
"If all countries in the world were to emit CO2 at levels similar to Czech Republic's, we would exceed our sustainable carbon budget by approximately 412%," the report warns.
Not comprehensive, but certainly telling
While the authors of the annual survey agree that "the index is not in any sense a comprehensive measure of human development (not addressing important indicators such as gender or income inequality and more difficult to measure indicators like respect for human rights and political freedoms)", they maintain that it provides "a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being".
Israel (#23) is the only country from the Middle East in the Top 30, Canada (#4) scores best for Americas and Japan (#8) continues to be Asia´s most desirable country to live in.
Seventeen member countries of the UN were not included in the index (Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia among them), because of inadequate data.