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BBC poll ranks Iraq War, Tsunami as the most significant events of 2005

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MUMBAI: A poll of 32,439 people from 27 countries was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland. They were asked “In the future, when historians think about the year 2005, what event of global significance do you think will be seen as most important?” Without prompting, the most common answers were the war in Iraq, the Asian tsunami, and the hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) in the US.

The war in Iraq was volunteered as the most significant event by 15 per cent worldwide. Not surprisingly, this was especially prominent among Iraqis with 43 per cent citing it. It was also relatively high in South Korea (31 per cent), Spain (28 per cent), the US (27 per cent), and Turkey (26 per cent). Given that the UK has troops on the ground in Iraq, it is surprising that only nine per cent of Britons mentioned the war there as the most important event.

The other most widely mentioned event of 2005 was the Asian tsunami, volunteered by 15 per cent worldwide. Not surprisingly, respondents from Asia-Pacific countries remembered it most—Sri Lanka (57 per cent), Indonesia (31 per cent), Australia (27 per cent), South Korea (24 per cent) and the Philippines (21 per cent). But 28 per cent of South Africans mentioned it as well.

The US hurricanes—Katrina and Rita—were mentioned by nine per cent worldwide. Curiously, Americans were not the highest. While 15 per cent of Americans cited it as the most significant event, larger percentages were found in Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Argentina (18 per cent).

The death of Pope John Paul II and the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI was the fourth most widely cited event. Worldwide, 6 percent volunteered this as the most important event of the year. Much of this came from several Catholic countries, where very large percentages cited it, especially Poland (48 per cent), but also Italy (17 per cent). Large percentages also cited it in the Congo (29 per cent) and Kenya (10 per cent).

The London bombings were seen as the most significant event by four percent overall. Interestingly, among Britons, only seven per cent mentioned the London bombings, while in Indonesia, 48 percent mentioned the Bali bombings. The London bombings also figured more prominently among Ghanaians (11 per cent) and Australians, South Koreans, and the Spanish (eight per cent each) than among the British.

Global warming figured prominently in the thinking of 3 percent who cited the earth getting warmer or the international negotiations related to climate change as the most significant event of the year. Concerns about global warming were especially high in Mexico (13 per cent), Finland (11 per cent), Great Britain (10 per cent), Canada (eight per cent), and India (eight per cent).

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