The literacy rate is the percentage of the adult population that is able to read. Although the literacy rate isn't specifically about a human-environment relationship, it does shed light on the economic and social conditions facing a given population. The more economically well-off a society is, the higher the literacy rates tend to be. Also, the harder the government pushes for social programs such as mandatory education the higher the literacy rates are.
Literacy rates have been steadily improving around the globe for the last hundred years, and in most nations better than half of the population is literate. Unfortunately, in many of the nations currently facing a severe population crunch, the literacy rates are less than 20 percent.
Newsweek Demographic Data. World Thematic Map Data Description. ESRI Website. 2000. this address (23 March 2000).
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