Attributed, in part, to an evolution away from hardline 'iron fist' policy approaches to crime and violence, El Salvador and Guatemala saw homicides fall in 2012 from record highs.
In 2011 the number of fatalities per vehicle miles traveled was the lowest ever, the Department of Transportation said. Technology and education are credited with the improved US road safety.
Women are slowly making inroads in the gender pay gap. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data for full-time workers show women earn 82 percent as much as men, up from 64 percent in 1980.
More adults might be completing college degrees because it’s been so hard for young people to find jobs during difficult economic times. But the rise is also part of a historical trend.
It's getting easier to do business in many countries, according to a World Bank report, with Eastern Europe and Central Asia making significant strides this year.
As the Afghan government struggles to develop, the post office has quietly managed to become one of the nation's most efficient institutions - and with extremely limited international assistance.
An international goal is to set aside 10 percent of coastal and marine waters as protected areas by 2020. Although much work remains to reach the goal, areas are being added at an accelerated pace.
Despite sustained drought and population growth, global hunger has decreased over the past two decades. Food aid is smarter and 'host' governments are focusing more on local farmers.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools has been steadily chipping away at the achievement gap. After being a finalist four other times, the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education on Tuesday.
Nine out of 10 high-schoolers chose not to drink and drive in 2011, according to the CDC. Safety advocacy groups and government agencies have worked with youths and parents on the issue.
For the first time ever, the two nuclear rivals have introduced tourist visas, sparking excited Facebook posts from Pakistanis eyeing a trip to the Taj Mahal and Indians looking to visit Harappa.
Under Taliban rule, fewer than 50,000 girls attended school in Afghanistan. Today, 3.2 million attend.
The United States Achievers Program provides funding and moral support for promising but disadvantaged students from 13 countries on four continents to pursue their educational goals.
Every year, Internet access via broadband becomes available to millions more Americans, up from 92 percent last year to 94 percent, a recent report shows. Rural and tribal areas are the outliers.
One year after the ouster of the Islamist militia, the capital city prospers. But Al Shabab remains a threat.
Some three-quarters of the world now has access to mobile networks. What does this mean for those in the developing world?
Many US college campuses are becoming tobacco-free as US schools institute total bans, indoors and out, on cigarettes and related products. Some smokers say the bans infringe on their choices.
The widely-watched Kids Count annual survey on the state of America's children shows gains in health and education despite the poor economy. But advocates say raised poverty rates merit more attention from lawmakers.
Development agency points to social gains.
More countries are taking modern-day slavery seriously and more people are being prosecuted, says the annual State Department report on Trafficking in Persons.
Between 2003 and 2008, the gap in life expectancy between white and black men fell from 6.5 years to 5.4, Canadian researchers found. For women, it fell from 4.6 years to 3.7.
Although crime historically spikes during hard economic times, the US is currently bucking that trend. Both the national violent crime rate and murder rate were down in 2011, reports the FBI.
Some 89 percent of the global population is now using 'improved' water sources, that are protected from outside contamination. But the finding is controversial.
Reports by the African Development Bank, World Bank, and McKinsey show how Africa continues to offer a bright spot in the global economy.
Declining the revolutionary model that Egypt established in overthrowing Mubarak, Saudi reformers are working for a shift in mind-sets as well as policies – and making headway.