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Accountable: if you are accountable, you can be held responsible for what you do, and punished if you have done something wrong (to be held accountable for something)

Agriculture: farming
Agribusiness: very large scale farming, where the focus is on making a profit (often carried out by multinational corporations)

Amnesty: an order that people will not be tried or punished for crimes that they have committed
Amnesty International:an organisation that campaigns for human rights and the release of political prisoners

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Cash crops: crops that are grown to sell, not to feed the farmers

Ceasefire: a break in a war or fighting (a ceasefire is usually temporary)

Civil war: a war that is fought between people in the same country

Climate: the kind of temperatures and weather conditions that an area typically has

Constitution: a formal set of rules about how a country will be governed, the rights of its people, and so on

Corrupt: if someone is corrupt they use their position and power for their own gain, rather than doing their job honestly and fairly (noun = corruption)

Crops: plants grown on farms

Cultivated land: land on which crops are grown

Currency: the money of a country
Hard currency: a currency that keeps its value and does not change very much, for example, the US dollar

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Debt service: the amount of interest and the amount of the capital that must be paid on a debt every year

Deforestation: the loss of trees (usually by cutting or burning)

Delta: a delta is a flat area where a large river divides into several smaller rivers before it flows into a sea or ocean

Demobilisation: for countries or armed groups to dismiss their soldiers

Democracy: a political system in which the people choose their leaders

Dependent: if you are dependent on something you need it, you cannot do without it

Descended from: who we come from genetically (through our genes): the people we are descended from are our ancestors; we are their descendants

Disarm: to give up your weapons (noun = disarmament - for example, nuclear disarmament)

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Ecosystem: the relationship between different parts of a natural environment, for example plants, animals, weather, rivers and so on

Election: a time when people vote in order to choose the people who will represent them and govern them
a Presidential election is to elect the President of a country

Elite: a small group of people who have more advantages or privileges than everyone else; a small number of people who are "above" everyone else

Ethnic: relating to someone's race or national origin
Ethnic minority: a group of people who belong to a different ethnic group than the majority of people in a country or an area
"Ethnic cleansing": an organised attempt by one ethnic group to clear an area of people from another ethnic group, using murder, terror and so on (Cleansing comes from the verb to "clean")

External Debt: money that is owed to other countries and to institutions based in other countries

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Fertile: fertile land is land where things grow easily

Flee: to run away (past = fled)

Fuel: something that is burned to produce heat or energy

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G D P: Gross Domestic Product - the total value of the goods and services produced inside a country in a year

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Habitat: the natural surroundings in an area, often used about the environment where a particular species lives - its natural habitat

Hides: the skins of animals

Hurricane: violent circular winds that bring severe storms ( in the Western Atlantic; in other places similar storms are called typhoons or cyclones)

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IMF: = "the International Monetary Fund", a UN agency dealing with international finance

Income distribution: how equally or unequally a country's money is shared among its people

Independent: for a country to govern itself, not to be ruled by another country (to become independent)
Declare independence - when the country that is ruled says that it is independent, without the agreement of the ruling country

Individual rights: rights that guarantee the rights of each person

Industrial action: actions (for example strikes) taken by workers in order to get better pay and working conditions

Infant mortality: the number of babies who die when they are aged 0 - 12 months. This figure is usually given as the number of babies who die for every 1,000 live births (infant = young baby; mortality = death)

Infectious: an infectious disease is caused by a bacteria or virus, and spreads easily

Inflation: a general increase in prices

Integration: for people of different ethnic backgrounds to mix and live together peacefully (verb = integrate) Reintegration: for people to become integrated again, for example, after a civil war.

Irrigation: taking water from natural sources (rivers, wells and so on) to use for growing crops

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Jute: a plant grown for making rope & cloth

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Life expectancy: how long someone can expect to live, from birth

Literate: being able to read and write (noun = literacy; the opposite is illiterate)
Literacy rate: the percentage of a country's population aged over 15 years who can read and write

Livestock: animals kept by farmers, ranchers, herders

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Migrants: people who move from one place to another place
Migrant workers i) people, like agricultural labourers, who move from place to place, doing seasonal work;
ii) people who move to another country in order to work, but do not settle in that country

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Nomads: people who do not live in one place, but move from place to place (often in order to graze their animals)

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Oppose: to be against something (noun = opposition)
Opposition /Opposition parties: in talking about politics, we often use these words to refer to parties which are not part of the government

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Per capita: for each person. This is used to give an average figure - for example: the GDP per capita for a country is the total value of the GDP divided by the population of the country (basically)

Plain/plains: a large area of flat land

Plateau: a flat area of land, high above sea-level

Poaching: to catch animals illegally

Population: the number of people living in a country or area (adjective = populated)
Densely populated: crowded; a lot of people per square kilometre

Privitisation: when a government sells state-owned industries /services /resources and so on to privately owned companies

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Reform: to change something - a law, a system, an organisation - so that it works in a better way. For example: political reform; financial reform. (In reality, different people may disagree about what is better, but the use of the word "reform" always carries the meaning of making something better.)

Refugees: people who have fled from their homes because of war, disaster, or for political reasons

Revenue: regular income that a government receives (from taxes & other sources)

Rural: of the countryside (the opposite is urban - of towns or cities)

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Savannah: a large area of flat and grassy land

Self-reliance: how far a country can support its own needs

Sewage: waste from toilets, washing and so on
Sewage facilities: systems that collect and treat sewage so that it does not harm people or the environment

Soil: the top layer of earth, in which things can grow
Soil erosion: is when the soil is lost because of the actions of wind, rain and so on.( Deforestation makes this happen more quickly.)

Source: where something comes from ( for example: a source of information; a source of energy)

Structural Adjustment: major changes made in a country's economic system usually to satisfy international agencies and lenders

Subsistence farmers: farmers who farm in order to produce what they and their families need to live on, rather than producing things to sell

Swamp: land that is very soft and wet (adjective = swampy)

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Torture: using pain to make people do what you want, or to get information from them

Toxic: poisonous

Trade unions: organisations of workers to help them get better pay and working conditions

Traditional: (adjective) shows the same ways of thinking and doing things as in the past

Treat: to make something safe (treated; treatment): for example, treating water makes it safe to drink; treating sewage makes it safe to dispose of.
(Medical: to treat is to do something to make a sick or injured person better)

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Unstable: if something is unstable, it is not steady or secure, it can change easily. (noun = instability; the opposite is stable; stability)

Urban: (adjective) belonging to towns or cities: urban areas are the opposite of rural (countryside) areas

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NI Global issues for Learners of English > Country Profiles > Vocabulary

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Last modified 13 January 2001