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Survey: Sweden beats U.S. as top Web-savvy nation

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuters) -- Sweden has overtaken the United States as the Web-savviest nation on the planet, a survey showed on Tuesday.

One other European country, Denmark, was also more aggressive in taking advantage of the Internet than the United States, according to research carried out by IBM and the intelligence unit of British magazine The Economist.

Of the 60 countries surveyed, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were at the bottom of the list with 2.37 and 2.52 points respectively out of a possible 10.

Sweden scored 8.67, up from 8.32 a year ago. The United States was little changed at number three with 8.43 points, on par with the Netherlands and Britain.

The differences were small between the top 14, all scoring more than eight points as a result of plentiful cheap Internet connections, software and technical support, legal and government frameworks and populations which think it is cool to spend time on the Net.

"Northwest Europe, North America and Australia are at virtually similar levels," said Peter Korsten, European executive director at IBM's Institute for Business Value.

Absent from the top 15 were France and Italy, which were clearly second league in "connectivity" and "consumer and business adoption." "They're laggards and that's a bit scary," he said.

South Korea jumped from 21nd to 16th place, overtaking France, Italy, Taiwan, New Zealand and Belgium, as it boasts the world's highest percentage of high-speed Web households.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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