The UPU publishes its world postal statistics for 2006
Letter volumes are stabilizing, the growth in parcel volumes is continuing, and postal revenue is sharply up: these are the three major trends highlighted in the worldwide postal statistics for 2006, published today by the Universal Postal Union.
Since 1875, the UPU has gathered statistics from the operators designated by UPU members around the world to provide the universal postal service. Of the 191 UPU member countries, 163 responded to the 2006 questionnaire. The figures are therefore based on information provided by participating Posts and UPU estimates.
With a total of 433 billion mail items, domestic letter-post traffic was slightly up compared to 2005, returning to the same level as in 2000. The strongest growth was in Africa (+2.1 pct), while the Arab countries saw the biggest drop (-2.5pct). Generally speaking, advertising items had a positive impact on mail volumes, which have faced heavy competition from electronic communications over the past few years.
Volumes of international letter post (5.5 billion items) were down 2pct overall, though there was wide regional variation, with volumes up 8.1pct in the Caribbean, and down a full 15 pct in Africa.
With a total of 6.235 billion items in the domestic and international services combined, parcels traffic was up 4.8 pct compared to 2005.
The biggest rise in domestic parcels traffic was seen in Africa (+11.7). For the international service, it was Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which saw the biggest increase (+21.4pct). The delivery of merchandise ordered via the Internet is thought to be one of the growth factors.
With a total of 204.8 billion SDR* (equivalent to 308.1 billion USD), worldwide postal revenue was up 13pct compared to 2005. This growth was shared by three-quarters of UPU member countries. Letter post still generates more than half (52.3pct) of operating revenue, but this figure was 7.7pct lower than in 2005. Meanwhile, revenue generated by parcels and logistics services rose by 6pct to contribute 27pct of global revenue. Financial products accounted for 14pct of revenue.
*SDR = Special Drawing Right, the UPU's official unit of account. At 31 December 2006,
1 SDR was worth 1.5044 USD.
A few key figures for 2006 (countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants)
Average number of letters sent per inhabitant (domestic and international)
1. Switzerland (713) 2. United States of America (667) 3. Norway (573) 4. Finland (533)
5. Luxembourg (483) 6. Slovenia (476) 7. Great Britain (343) 8. Australia (254) 9. Czech
Republic (248) 10. Estonia (195)
Average number of ordinary postal parcels sent per inhabitant (domestic and international)
1. Japan (18.1) 2. Switzerland (14.1) 3. United States of America (7) 4. Norway (4.9)
5. Finland (4.7) 6. Australia (4.6) 7. Republic of Korea (2) 8. Estonia (1.3) 9. Ireland (0.9)
10. Slovakia (0.9)
Average number of inhabitants served by a post office
1. Cyprus (739) 2. Maldives (1,397) 3. Belize (2,041) 4. Sweden (2,257) 5. Latvia (2,326)
6. Estonia (2,376) 7. Bulgaria (2,576) 8. Uruguay (2,665) 9. Ireland (2,755) 10. Czech
Other key facts for 2006
• The world's postal services employ over 5.5 million people. With 37 employees,
Vanuatu Post has the smallest staff and the United States Postal Services have the
biggest (796,199 employees).
• There are some 660,000 post offices, forming one of the most extensive networks in
the world. Just under half of these offices are managed by people from outside the
public postal operator. The Vatican has the lowest number of post offices (4), and
India the highest (155,333).
• The worldwide number of letter-post items posted per inhabitant was 66.7.
Industrialized countries had the highest average (403.7), sub-Saharan Africa the
lowest (3.0). In around 30 developing countries, the number of items sent per person
was less than one.
• For parcels there is even greater variation in these averages: worldwide, an average
of 947 parcels were posted per 1,000 inhabitants. Industrialized countries: 6,375;
Arab countries: 5. Logistics services are offered by the Post in 28pct of member
countries (26pct of developing countries and 36pct of industrialized countries).
• Internet-based services are offered by 60pct of operators around the world (56pct in
developing countries and 86pct in industrialized countries).
• 69.1pct of permanent or mobile post offices offer financial services.