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Help BBC International News Services go to Extremes
Japanese people live the longest lives, with an average life expectancy of 83 years – almost twice as long as the people of Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, who can expect to live to 42*. Contrasts such as these will underpin a new series of special reports on the BBC’s international news services, called Extreme World, beginning in December. The series, on TV, radio and online, will study some of the world’s most dramatic divides, highlighting the extraordinary disparities in people’s lives and lifestyles.

Focusing on the boundaries of the planet, as well as cultural, social, geographical, political and religious topics, Extreme World explores just how different, and how alike, we really are – and asks whether one country's problems can be measured alongside another when other key factors vary so dramatically.

From December 2010 to June 2011, eight key themes will be explored; the extremes in climate, corruption, dying, education, crime, business, waste and religion. In an increasingly connected world, Extreme World examines how great the world's divides really are and if these divisions can be clearly defined.

On Wednesday 1 December, Extreme World launches from two very different parts of the planet; with journalists reporting from one of the hottest places on earth, and one of the coldest. Adam Mynott visits Siberia, while Pascale Harter travels to the Republic of Djibouti, for BBC World Service and BBC World News, to discover how local residents live in such extreme conditions.

The subject of extreme temperatures will be given special treatment by BBC World Service’s language and regional services. The African News and Current Affairs output will include a piece from Mount Kenya, looking at how people cope with extreme temperature fluctuations every day. There will be a report from eastern Kenya – the country’s hottest region - where most people have to stop working in the afternoons when the heat is highest, and a report from the country’s coastal area, asking if people really have to lead laid-back lives because of the heat.

BBC Hausa will report on the hottest place in Nigeria, Maiduguri, and the coldest, Jos, exploring the impact of the local climate on people's lives. During the peaks of the hot season, residents of Maiduguri wrap ice around their heads in order to cool down – unsurprisingly, this is when the ice-making business is booming. The programming will include text messages from audiences about their experiences of the coldest or hottest places they have visited.

Multimedia content on BBC Russian will report on the competition between Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk in Yakutia, Russia, for the status of the Northern Pole of Cold, and on life on the “Vostok” station in the Antarctic, the Southern Pole of Cold.

BBC Uzbek service’s video report in English from Yakutia looks at how people literally go to extremes, travelling to the coldest place on Earth in order to feed their families back home in Central Asia. BBC Uzbek will also report from the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. Known for its stiflingly hot summers and bitterly cold winters, this city in the middle of step now boasts some of the best architectural design the country’s oil and gas money can buy. In another story, a former inmate of Jaslik prison in Uzbekistan will talk about this cold, bleak location of extreme hardship.

A special edition of the global interactive show, World Have Your Say, will be broadcast on BBC World News television, presented by Chloe Tilley, and on BBC World Service, presented by Ros Atkins, from Sierra Leone on 1 December. World Have your Say will be talking to audiences around the world about the idea of Extreme World. Do audiences think about the world as a place marked out by dramatic differences, such as the tension between the rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, or is this a concept that has no relevance to their own personal lives?

On 9 December, Extreme World will examine the issue of corruption, focusing its impact on all facets of life in different corners of the world, from politics, government and business, to the first-hand experiences of people facing issues of bribery in their daily lives.

World Have your Say will be broadcasting a special programme on 9 December, presented by Ros Atkins, on the issue of corruption. Audiences can join in the debate via, Twitter (@BBC_WHYS) and Facebook (World Have Your Say).

BBC World Service will also broadcast a range of new documentaries focusing on the issue of corruption. For more than a century Chicago's history has been marred by patronage, bribery and venality. In Oiling the Machine, on BBC World Service from Monday 6 December, local journalist Steve Edwards takes to the streets of his hometown, meeting its political bosses, investigating the so-called 'machine' that controlled democracy for decades and asking why Chicago is still seen by many as such a hotbed of political corruption.

Extremes of Corruption, on BBC World Service on Thursday 9 December is a new two-part programme examining Sweden and Somalia - two countries that routinely occupy opposing ends of international corruption league tables. The series will ask if these reputations are deserved; is Sweden's image so flawless? And, after two decades of civil war, is it even fair to levy allegations of corruption against Somalia? Award-winning journalist and presenter Pascale Harter examines these extremes and questions whether corruption can be measured in such black-and-white terms.

Looking at how creative corruption can be, BBC Mundo will bring audiences 10 stories from across the world. These include a report about an Afghan man who claimed to be a Taliban negotiator, and a report about a Peruvian security adviser who recorded on videotape every single bribe that he offered to his political enemies.

BBC Azeri, BBC Kyrgyz and BBC Uzbek will feature a discussion with International Crisis Group’s Central Asia Programme Director, Paul Quinn-Judge, and Latin America Programme Director, Silke Pfeiffer, who will talk about the similarities and differences in how corruption manifests itself in Latin America and Central Asia, how it is eating away at national institutions and what can be done to tackle it. BBC Azeri will focus on Georgia, looking at the country’s success in dealing with corruption.

BBC Hausa will look at the impact of corruption on national development in Nigeria – the country described by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt in the world – and do some prospective analysis on how Nigeria would do if it were free of corruption. BBC Swahili will be talking to John Githongo who investigated fraud and bribery as a journalist, and then fought corruption as a government official in his home country Kenya. A special report on BBC Afrique (French for Africa) will explore the temptations of corruption in a day in the life of a police officer in Cameroon.

BBC Persian will broadcast a radio and TV report about corruption in Tajikistan. The subject of corruption, as well as other themes of the Extreme World season, will be discussed in BBC Persian live TV and radio debates and online forums. will feature a range of multimedia content, as well as a special interactive picture wall, allowing audiences to discover different Extreme World facts and figures about topics that impact on people’s lives, from birth and date rates, to differences in education and health care.
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