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Number of Internet Users by the End of 2006




Note: Population of Europe includes the European part of Russia.

Source: Guardian, December 30, 2006, United Nations Population Division, US Census Bureau

While the United States of America is still leading in Internet penetration, Europe is not far behind and China is rapidly closing the gap. In fact, many small countries of Western Europe, such as Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, or Austria have a far better Internet infrastructure than the US. China's population of Internet users increased by almost one-third during 2006.

Although human rights groups continue to criticize what they call China's Internet censorship there is still a remarkably diversity of Internet content behind the country's "great firewall" - with vibrant chat rooms, rich educational web sites and a growing commercial sector for gambling and shopping.

The great plurality and openness of the Internet in Europe and the United States is, of course, its major asset. However, many people are also outraged about the huge amount of pornographic filth and commercial trash (in the form of intrusive advertising) that is invading this infrastructure. Many governments in Europe and the US are also concerned that the Internet is increasingly used for economic and criminal scams and as a tool to promote terrorism.

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This data section was updated on 18 December 2011

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. - 18 April 2012