North European countries are the most advanced in terms of information and communication technology (ICT) development, said the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Monday.
According to the UN agency, Sweden tops a list of 154 countries worldwide, which are ranked in the agency's latest ICT Development Index (IDI).
Sweden was followed by the Republic of Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway.
The ICT Development Index compared developments in these countries over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007, using indicators such as households with a computer, the number of Internet users and computer literacy levels.
The Index shows that Western and Northern Europe and North America are the regions with the highest IDI scores.
Poor countries, in particular the least developed countries, remain at the lower end of the index with limited access to ICT infrastructure, including fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and broadband.
"The report shows that overall the magnitude of the global digital divide remains unchanged between 2002 and 2007. Despite significant improvements in the developing world, the gap between the ICT haves and have-nots remains," ITU said in a statement.
Some developing countries, though, have moved up considerably in the Index over the five-year period, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Vietnam.
This is partly due to high mobile cellular growth, coupled with an increase in Internet users, ITU said.
According to the agency, China's ranking rose from 90 in 2002 to 73 in 2007.
The country has made significant progress in increasing the number of fixed telephone lines and mobile subscriptions as well as fixed broadband during the past few years, ITU said.