Thursday, May 01, 2008


Some of the most expensive gasoline in the world is in Sierra Leone. Cost is somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 plus a gallon. My mind boggles at the very idea that it could cost $180 to fill my Corolla or a total of $720/month.

I looked up Sierra Leone in the CIA Factbook because all I know about the country is the blood diamond thing and civil war thing and that I believe it's in western Africa. Literacy rate is 35.1 percent (US = 99 percent). The country's a constitutional democracy, which surprised me because I was sure it was a dictatorship of some kind as 70 percent of its population lives below the poverty line (12 percent in the US). Sierra Leone's GDP is $4.83 billion (US = $13.86 trillion) but it has a higher growth rate than the US -- 6.8 percent versus 2.2 percent -- but then Sierra Leone has to deal with an inflation rate of 12 percent versus 2.7 percent in the US.

In 2007, Sierra Leone's GDP per capita was approximately $800 -- or about the amount it would cost to fuel a Corolla for one month. Comparatively, the US GDP per capita is $46,000, which is very close to the average income for an American family. In Sierra Leone, the average income is $200. You put all that together and look at $18 plus a gallon and then you think about what it might cost to feed a family on $200/year and just... wow.

We've got it good.

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