Purple is the least frequently used colour in national flags . Produced from a rare species of sea snail, the hue was time consuming to make and thus prohibitively expensive before the 19th century. Nicaragua and Dominica are the only countries that have purple in their flags as both were introduced after the discovery of cheap synthetic dyes. Lasting the best part of six minutes, the world’s longest national anthem belongs to Uruguay. Thankfully, the South American nation has only ever won two Olympic gold medals. Papua New Guinea hasn’t won any but it is home to about 820 indigenous languages, which is more than any other . Tok Pisin serves as a lingua franca and is relatively easy to pick up: hospital = haus sik ; late = bihaintaim ; quietly = no ken mekim nois . On the subject of indigenous communities, there are more uncontacted tribes in the Brazilian Amazon than anywhere else on Earth. Numbers are diminishing, however, as their land continues to be taken and deforested for beef-cattle pasture. Talking of which, California has more burger joints than any other US state. Mexico is the world’s highest per capita consumer of soft drinks ; residents on the Pacific island of Nauru are the most obese and the pie-loving people of Malta are Europe’s fattest folk . So much for the Mediterranean diet. Belgium is famous for the quality of its chocolate and more chocolate is sold at Brussels airport when it’s fully functioning than anywhere else – about 1.5kg a minute, or two tonnes a day. For a surfeit of superlatives, let’s head to the Louvre, in Paris, where (arguably) the most overlooked painting in the world hangs in the worst location in the gallery. The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by Italian artist Paolo Veronese, is the largest painting in the world’s most visited museum . Unfortunately, the masterpiece is opposite the Mona Lisa , the world’s most valuable work of art , and the gawping hordes have eyes only for Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic portrait. According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2017 was the safest year for air travel . There were no passenger jet crashes anywhere in the world that year. Inspired perhaps by this reassuring news, soon after, New Zealander Andrew Fisher beat the record for circumnavigating the world using only scheduled flights . His January 2018 route took him from Shanghai to Auckland, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and back to Shanghai in 52 hours 34 minutes. Coincidentally, the New Zealand passport is the world’s most powerful , with visa-free, or visa on arrival access to 129 destinations. Japan usually leads the field but Covid-19-related travel restrictions mean Kiwis have more international travel options for the time being. Afghan passports are the world’s worst , offering visa-free entry to just 26 countries. China and Russia each share their borders with 14 other countries while France has the most time zones . Including overseas territories, it has 12. London is the capital of the nation with the longest name , the official title being: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Tokyo is the world’s safest city , based on digital, health, infrastructure and personal security, but when it comes to the risk of natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions), Qatar is the safest country and Japan is the most earthquake prone . Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983 making it the world’s most active . Tijuana and Acapulco, in Mexico, are the planet’s deadliest cities (excluding war zones) owing to score settling by drug cartels. Things aren’t much safer in India – if you’re driving, that is. There were 149,068 traffic- related deaths there in 2019. The safest place to get behind the wheel is Norway, where 110 people died as a result of road accidents in 2019. Back in Japan, we find the most expensive legitimate airport-to-city taxi ride . Expect to pay 20,500 yen (US$196), or 25,721 yen after 10pm, for the 70-minute trip from Tokyo’s Narita. That fare is dwarfed by the one clocked up by Leigh Purnell, Paul Archer and Johno Ellison, who made it into the Guinness World Records for the longest journey by taxi . The British trio travelled 69,716km around the globe in a black London cab from February 2011 to May 2012. The charge on the meter when they arrived back in the English capital was £79,006.80. The poorest nation on the planet is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 80 per cent of the population survive on less than US$1.25 a day each, despite it being one of the wealthiest countries in terms of natural resources. The average monthly salary in Qatar, the world’s richest country , is 20,326 rials (US$5,486). Citizens of the Central African Republic currently have a life expectancy of 53, which is the world’s lowest . That’s an improvement on 2007, however, when political instability leading to violence saw the age drop to 43. By comparison, Hongkongers can expect to live to a ripe old 85.29 years, a world best . The average woman can look forward to 88.17 years in the Big Lychee. Cuba’s largest source of revenue comes not from sugar or tourism but from medical personnel. The Caribbean country leases thousands of doctors to foreign governments, earning around US$11 billion annually while the remittances sent home by 10 million overseas workers are the most important source of income for the Philippine economy. In these Covid-19 times, it’s worth knowing that a television remote control is the dirtiest item in a typical hotel room. A handy mnemonic could be TV = Touch with Vigilance. TV is also the internet domain suffix for the Polynesian country of Tuvalu, the least visited on Earth, which welcomes an average of 2,000 tourists a year. Bratislava, Slovakia, is the only capital that borders two countries (Austria and Hungary) and Hotel Arbez is the only hostelry that straddles two nations . The border between France and Switzerland runs straight through the property, dissecting stairways and guest rooms, and even dividing the double bed in the honeymoon suite. Insert your own joke here.