In era of e-mail, snail mail still going strong, UN postal agency reports

6 December 2007

Despite stiff competition from electronic communications, snail mail is still going strong, the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) announced today, with letter mail traffic up slightly, more parcels being sent and postal revenue surging.

Despite stiff competition from electronic communications, snail mail is still going strong, the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) announced today, with letter mail traffic up slightly, more parcels being sent and postal revenue surging.

In its worldwide statistics for 2006, the Berne, Switzerland-based UPU reported that with a total traffic of 433 billion mail items, domestic letter-post traffic rose slightly compared to the year before, while international mail was down two per cent.

The number of parcels sent last year numbered 6.235 billion items nationally and internationally, increasing 4.8 per cent from the year before. Domestically, advertising mail contributed to the rise in mail volumes.

The biggest rise in domestic parcels traffic – 11.7 per cent – occurred in Africa, while internationally, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) saw a 21.4 per cent surge.

Global postal revenue climbed 13 per cent to $308.1 billion compared to 2005. More than half of these profits were generated by letter post, while more than one quarter was created by parcels and logistics services.

The statistics were gathered from responses to a UPU questionnaire, to which 163 out of the 191 UPU Member States responded.

The survey showed that the Swiss send the largest number of letters – 713 letters annually – while the Japanese send the most parcels, some 18.1 yearly.

The UPU also found that the world’s postal services employ more than 5.5 billion people. Vanuatu has the smallest postal staff globally with 37 employees, while with 796,199 employees, the United States has the largest.

With four post offices, the Vatican has the fewest number of them, while India, with the most, has 155,333.

The UPU is the world’s second-oldest international organization, created in 1874. The agency acts as the primary forum for cooperation between postal systems worldwide.