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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 02:23 GMT
Poll finds surprising optimists
Afghan men in front of teashop in ruins
A "zero hour" mentality is said to make Afghans upbeat
Iraqis and Afghans are among the most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.

Italians join people in Zimbabwe and DR Congo as the most downcast about their future, according to the poll of 37,500 people in 32 nations.

The World Bank gets a clear vote of confidence, with 55% saying it has a positive influence in the world.

Its biggest boosters are in regions where it is most active.

Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Afghanistan showed marked support for the World Bank.

The poll marks a rare boost for the bank's officials, who often are the focus of criticism both from politicians and anti-poverty campaigners around the world.

Canadians are bullish not just about their own finances (64%), but also about the economic prospects of their country (63%).

They are joined in their optimism by the people of two countries devastated by war and civil conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are many countries which offer better conditions in some circumstances but taken in the round we have a very good way of life
Roger Galliant, UK

In Afghanistan, 70% say their own circumstances are improving, and 57% believe that the country overall is on the way up.

In Iraq, 65% believe their personal life is getting better, and 56% are upbeat about the country's economy.

The experts at polling firm Globescan, who conducted the survey, venture the guess that war may have created a "year zero" experience of collectively starting again.

Other countries feeling good about themselves are India, Finland, South Africa, Australia, Senegal and the UK.

Abject Zimbabwe

Among the six countries with unhappy majorities, Zimbabweans stand out as the most miserable lot.

An overwhelming 90% of those interviewed say their country's economy is getting worse, and 84% are dubious about their own financial future.

Perhaps surprisingly, the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo has similar numbers of pessimists to prosperous Italy and South Korea, where nearly 80% worry about their nation's economy and between 53 and 63% believe their own financial future will be difficult.

Indonesians, meanwhile, still feel the economic aftermath of the devastating tsunami a year ago.

And while France appears to sink in gloom, Germans seem to believe that their economy is turning the corner.

The BBC World Service poll was released on the day before the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where issues like poverty and economic success are high on the agenda.

Top company executives and world leaders will discuss how to tackle economic failure in developing countries, and the impact of globalisation in the industrialised world.

The poll surveyed 37,572 people in 32 countries between October 2005 and January 2006.


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