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World Wide Web Foundation releases first-ever global web index (U.S. ranks second)

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Image Credit: Web Index

A trillion public pages and 3.4 billion users, but the goal of connecting the entire world is still only 40 percent complete.

World-wide web inventor Dr. Tim Berners-Lee’s foundation just released its first-ever Web Index, an overview of the web’s availability and impact on countries around the globe. Sweden took top honors, followed closely by the U.S., UK, and Canada.

Sweden ranked high for overall impact of the web on the country, and freedom and access to the web. The downside for the Scandinavian country was the amount of content available online in Swedish — for obvious reasons.

The United States ranked a little lower for social, economic, and political impacts, but shone on web content and web use, as did the UK and Canada. Again, language has a huge impact.

The downside for the U.S. is the number of households connected to the internet, which is lower than countries such as Canada, Ireland, and Japan, and — unsurprisingly for techies — slower internet access speeds. Singapore and Iceland are among the top countries in that category.

(It is, after all, easier to wire up a small island than the bulk of a continent.)

The top countries, unsurprisingly, look like a who’s who of first-world countries. But still only one in three people use the web globally, which drops to one in six in Africa.

Above: Web index top 10 and bottom 10 countries

Image Credit: Web Index

In addition, 30 percent of countries have moderate to severe government restrictions on access to the web, including familiar names such as China, which prohibits anonymity online, filters the web, and censors web content. Pakistan, Egypt, and Ethiopia are even lower on the rankings for web freedom.

In a statement, Dr. Tim Berners-Lee said that “Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web.”

The report highlighted India, which is a country with strong technological growth, but also a long way to go. While the overall internet population is only 121 million out of 1.2 billion, 200 million new internet users are expected to come online in the next two years.

Entrepreneurs take note!

Image credit: Web Index