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Swedes are best at using the internet, says Berners-Lee

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Sweden has won the top prize in a new global index of countries getting the best out of the net socially and politically, with the US second and the UK coming third.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation ranked 61 countries in seven different categories to assess the impact of the internet in each, looking at issues like censorship and broadband prices to figure out which it thinks are the best.

The main criteria appeared to be that lots of people should be able to get on the net and lots of stuff should be there for them to look at. So in a completely unsurprising development, the top 10 in the index were filled out by wealthier democracies with passable technological infrastructure, with Canada, New Zealand and Australia in there along with four other European countries.

In case these results are a surprise to you, the explanation is that they all have very few restrictions on access to the net and all more or less speak English. Six of the top 10 countries are primarily English-speaking, including the fourth European country Ireland. The other four in the top 10 are Sweden and Norway (Scandinavian countries famed for their excellent English language skills) and Switzerland, where everyone speaks three languages or more - particularly those working in the banks, and Finland.

The list in full:

  1. Sweden
  2. United States
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Finland
  6. Switzerland
  7. New Zealand
  8. Australia
  9. Norway
  10. Ireland

The index found that one in three people use the web worldwide, but, in another unsurprising outcome, fewer than one in six do so in under-resourced Africa.

Recently war-torn, refugee-filled Yemen came bottom of the index in three categories, including social and economic, with Asian and African countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe joining the Middle Eastern country in the last 10.

"Each country will see not only where they rank compared to others, but also what the World Wide Web Foundation thinks they need to do to improve," Berners-Lee reckoned.

Which would appear to be learn to speak English so you can understand most of the content already available on the www, as well as get a lot richer so you can a) get broadband into the country and b) have citizens who can afford it.

The index was "seed funded" by Google and is due to be repeated annually. ®

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