The Statesman’s Yearbook Online

edited by Dr Barry Turner


The Statesman's Yearbook Timeline

See how much can happen in the world in 150 years!

Barry Turner

Fact Sheet: 150 Years of The Statesman's Yearbook

Take a look at 150 years of fascinating facts about the book and world.

  • The world population at the time of the first edition in 1864 was 1.25bn., as compared to over 7bn. today.
  • In 1861 the United States reported revenue and expenditure of US$83.2m. and US$84.6m. respectively (so even then the USA had a budget deficit). In 2011 the comparable figures were US$2.3trn. and US$3.6trn.
  • The two most populous states in the USA today, California and Texas, ranked only 26th and 23rd respectively in 1860.
  • The 'Constitution and Government' section for the Confederate States noted: 'The ''institution of negro slavery'' as it now exists shall be recognised and protected by Congress and by the Territorial Governments in the territory.'
  • In 1860 Virginia was the US state with most slaves (490,865). However, the states with the highest proportion of slaves were South Carolina (57.2% of the population) and Mississippi (55.2%).
  • Japan was a land of considerable mystery in 1864, its entry beginning: 'The system of government of the Japanese empire is as yet but imperfectly known.' It was later noted that: 'The port of Hakodadi, in the north of Japan, was deserted, after a lengthened trial, by all the foreign merchants settled there, it having been found impossible to establish any satisfactory intercourse with the natives. Centuries of isolation appear to have made the people of Japan entirely independent of the outer world, and of the immense trade and commerce of western civilisation.'
  • Nor was France's education system well regarded: 'Popular education, although having made great progress of late, stands, as yet, rather low in France. From the returns of marriages in… 1861… 83,905 bridegrooms and 136,447 brides, out of a total of 270,896 marriages, were unable to write their names. Consequently, about one-third of all the men, and considerably more than one-half of the women, married without the fundamental elements of instruction.'
  • As for France's criminal statistics, of the 7,960 convicts sentenced to hard labour in 1861 there were among them 'five ecclesiastics, three comedians, six notaries, and one professor of literature'.
  • A 'curious official return' from Spain for 1859 recorded that the 70,811 citizens of the city of Cádiz consumed 80,646 stones of soap, while the 94,293 citizens of Malaga consumed a mere 98 stones.
  • The 1864 entry for Queensland (an entry for the Commonwealth of Australia not appearing until 1903) recorded that: ‘Great gold fields have hitherto not been discovered, though the metal is believed to be extant in large quantities.’ The colony would enjoy a gold rush later in the decade and in 1871 the Charters Towers goldfield was discovered, which proved to be among the richest in Australian history.
  • The Indians of Mexico, accounting for around half the population at the time of the first edition, were described as 'reduced to a state of abject misery and servitude' in the country's 1864 entry.
  • Switzerland, constitutionally barred from having a standing army, provided military instruction for the 'greater number of pupils at the upper and middle class schools. They not only go through the infantry exercises, but practise gunnery, the necessary rifles and cannon—the latter 2- and 4—pounders—being furnished by the Federal government.'
  • The financial outlook for Greece in 1864 was, as today, stormy: 'At the time of King Otho's departure from Greece [1862], the exchequer was not only empty, but exhibited a deficit of 6,000,000 drachmas.'
  • Coverage of African states did not begin until the Cape of Good Hope, Liberia and Natal were included in the second edition of 1865. Of the 194 nation states covered in the book today, African countries make up the largest share with 55.
  • Of the 18 European nations featured in the 1864 edition, Switzerland was alone in not having a monarch. Of the 50 states in Europe today, only 12 are monarchies.
  • The first mention of the telephone came in the 1883 edition.
  • The 25th anniversary edition of 1888 reported a world population of 1,483m., divided as follows: Africa, 197m., America, 112m.; Asia, 789m.; Europe, 347m.; Oceania, 38m.
  • The same year, the British Empire was recorded as the world's largest in terms of area (9,339,000 sq. miles). However, in terms of population, the Chinese Empire was bigger, with 404m. inhabitants (against 307m. in the British Empire).
  • The population of New York City in 1890 was put at 1,515,301. Its 2010 census population was 8,175,133.
  • The first mention of electricity came in 1891.
  • In New Zealand's 1894 entry it was recorded that females had been 'admitted to the franchise' the previous year, making New Zealand the first country to grant all women of appropriate age the vote in national elections.
  • France's asylums for imbeciles were reported as having 64,639 inmates at the end of 1897.
  • In 1898, 4.1% of births in England and Wales were classified as 'illegitimate'. In the UK in 2008, 45.4% of births were to unmarried women.
  • The salary of the President of the USA is US$400,000 today. In 1900 it was US$50,000—equivalent to about US$1·4m. at current prices.
  • The mortality rate among children under one year of age was estimated at over 26% in Russia in 1900. In 2005 the rate was 1·1%.
  • In 1900 Russia had the world's largest army, numbering 896,000 in peace time but growing to 3.5m. when on a war footing. China, whose standing army of 1.6m. is the world's largest today, had around 300,000 troops in 1900 but its forces were described as 'having no unity or cohesion; there is no proper discipline, the drill is mere physical exercise, the weapons are long since obsolete, and there is no transport, commissariat, or medical service'.
  • In England and Wales in 1901, the average number of persons per inhabited building was 5.2. By 2010, the average British household consisted of 2.4 people.
  • The first mention of the motor car came in 1905.
  • The UK had by far the largest navy at the outbreak of the First World War, numbering 681 vessels either built or being built. The total was almost double the size of its nearest rival, Germany. Today, the USA has the largest navy, bigger in terms of tonnage than those of the next six largest combined.
  • In 1919, provisional casualties of the First World War were put at 6,886,411 killed, 12,616,017 wounded and 6,477,761 missing or imprisoned.
  • The first reference to Hitler came in relation to the election of '2 Hitlerites' to the Diet of Saxony at the election of 31 Oct. 1926.
  • The first mention of the atomic bomb came in 1946.
  • In 1960 details of funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were included, the first indicator of the Cold War space race.
  • Internet usage statistics were first included in 2000, two years before The Statesman's Yearbook's own website went live.
  • Seven states have disappeared since the 1978 edition (the first in which all the countries of the world were included in a simple A-Z format): Czechoslovakia; German Democratic Republic; Germany, Federal Republic of; the Soviet Union; Yemen Arab Republic; Yemen, People’s Democratic Republic of; and Yugoslavia.
  • Thirty-nine new states have been added since the 1978 edition: Antigua and Barbuda; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Czech Republic; Dominica; Eritrea; Estonia; Georgia; Germany; Kazakhstan; Kiribati; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia; Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Moldova; Montenegro; Namibia; Palau; Russia; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Sudan; Tajikistan; Timor-Leste; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Vanuatu; and Yemen.
  • Nine states have been officially renamed since the 1978 edition: Burma (now Myanmar); Central African Empire (now Central African Republic); Fiji (now Fiji Islands); Ivory Coast (now Côte d’Ivoire); Kampuchea (now Cambodia); Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso); Western Samoa (now Samoa); and Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).