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vital statistics

More than 150 million people worldwide log on to Internet search engine Google everyday.The popularity of the website is set to net its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page more than $10 billion (£5.9 billion) each when the float their five-year-old company later this year.

The Irish Republic is the most lightly taxed nation in Europe, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Tax revenues totalled just 28 per cent of the country's Gross National Product last year, compared with 35 per cent in the UK and an EU-wide average of 40 per cent.

VisitBritain, the organisation charged with marketing the UK overseas as a tourist destination, has set itself an ambitious target.

It aims to increase tourist revenue from £76 billion last year to £100 billion by 2010.

The number of small businesses going bust rose by more than 5 per cent in 2002, the government's Small Business Survey has said.

In the same time, the number starting up rose by a mere 0.7 per cent.

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