Top 10 countries with most improved child mortality rates
CZECH REPUBLIC: Fourteen of every 1,000 children under age five died annually in the Czech Republic in 1990. That rate has dropped to four deaths annually per 1,000 children today, making it the 10th most improved country over the past two decades. Ranked 37th among all countries in 1990, the Czech Republic is now ranked 19th worldwide. Here, a baby is seen at a christening in Kretin, Czech Republic, in June 2006. Veronika Lukasova/Newscom/FILE
EGYPT: In 1990, Egypt saw 175,208 infant deaths. That dropped to 51,664 deaths in 2009. Its worldwide ranking improved 20 spots over that period, to 100th worldwide for infant mortality rates. Here, a young baby stares at security guards in Cairo, Egypt, in April 2002 as dozens of women demonstrated in front of the US Embassy. Dana Smillie/Black Star/Newscom/FILE
SRI LANKA: The teardrop off the southern tip of India was the eighth most-improved nation in the world. Sri Lanka had 10 deaths per 1,000 children in 2009, down from 35.5 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990. Ranked 80th among all countries in 1990, Sri Lanka is now ranked 53rd worldwide. A girl in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka gives a baby some water here in May 2009 at a refugee camp. Liu Yongqiu/Xinhua/Sipa Press/Newscom
VIETNAM: The Southeast Asian country saw 100,618 children under age 5 die in 1990. That dropped four-fold over the next two decades, to 19,215 under-5 deaths in 2009. The mortality rate dropped from 46.4 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990, to 12.9 deaths per 1,000 children in 2009. Ranked 92 in 1990, Vietnam is now ranked 65 worldwide. In Phan Rang-Thap Cham, Vietnam, a woman from the Coho ethnic group smiles as she holds her baby. Newscom
TURKMENISTAN: The central-Asian nation’s infant mortality rate dropped from 98 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990 to a rate of 26 in 2009. Ranked 134 in 1990, Oman is now ranked 103 worldwide. Here, a family sits outside their home in Dashkhovuz, Turkmenistan. Newscom
OMAN: The infant mortality rate dropped from 37 per 1,000 in 1990 to 9.3 today. Ranked 82nd in 1990, Oman is now ranked 50th worldwide. In Mutrah, Oman, a mother and her child are seen here on a swing. Newscom
PORTUGAL: Ranked 39 worldwide for childhood mortality in 1990, Portugal is now ranked 10 among all countries. The rate dropped from 15 deaths per every 1,000 children in 1990 to 3.3 deaths per 1,000 in 2009. A father is seen here, kissing his baby dressed in Portuguese national football team gear in June 2008. Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Imgages/Newscom
CYPRUS: The Mediterranean island made steady progress in the past two decades, bringing its childhood mortality rate down to 2.8 per thousand children today from 12.8 in 1990. Cyprus now has the fourth-lowest childhood mortality rate in the world. Singapore has the lowest rate, at 2.5 deaths per 1,000 births. Here, a boy plays with a cat outside in Larnaca, Cyprus. Andy Robinson/Splash News/Newscom
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The infant mortality rate in the United Arab Emirates plummeted over the past two decades thanks in part to an economy enriched by oil. The UAE's rate of 16 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990 dropped to 3 in 2009. Ranked 41st in 1990, the UAE is now ranked 6th worldwide. A girl points to baby crabs as children play on the beach here in Dubai, UAE, in December 2004. Kamran Jebreili/AP/FILE
MALDIVES: The tiny island country in the Indian Ocean had 88.5 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990. But the nation’s childhood mortality rate dropped faster than any other country in the past 20 years and the rate is now 14. The Maldives is now ranked 69th worldwide in preventing childhood deaths, up from 130th in 1990. Here, young girls are seen in school uniforms in the Maldives. Newscom
South Korea, long in the shadow of other Asian 'tiger economies,' is suddenly hip and enormously prosperous – so much so that it may have outgrown its thankless dream of reuniting with the North.
Scott Duke Harris, Contributor /
May 19, 2013
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
For months the young emperor to the north has been threatening to turn this thriving metropolis into a "sea of fire." But it's not easy to ruffle the jaunty vibe of 75-year-old Kim Chong-shik as he strolls among young couples and shoppers along the boutiques of the Gangnam District.