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From nanotechnology to climate disasters and from malaria to higher education, SciDev.Net's most popular stories this year reveal not just the wide-ranging interests of our readers but also how broad is the subject of science for development.

Our top two articles this year were both about nanotechnology and its potential for bringing clean water to the poor — see How nanotech can meet the poor's water needs and Nanotechnology for clean water: Facts and figures. The latter feature was one of our popular "facts and figures" articles — a subject in a nutshell.

Facts and figures features occupied three of our top ten spots this year, the other two being Climate change and insect-borne disease: Facts and figures and Funding for higher education: Facts and figures. Our readers evidently value our ability to gather, analyse and distil.

Nowhere is this more important than when helping you navigate through the sea of information on climate change. Some of our users are science journalists, so we were delighted that our practical guide, Climate change: How to report the story of the century, was our third most popular article of 2009.

Climate also came in at number seven with our article South-East Asian climate map reveals disaster hotspots, which told of a research programme pinpointing which parts of the region may suffer most from climate-related disasters. The surprise finding was Cambodia's vulnerability — its poor preparedness for disasters outweighs its relatively low exposure to the risks.

Another story about maps also came fifth — an article about the first global map of malaria infection in 40 years, a mammoth undertaking that combined information from 8,000 surveys and found that fewer people live in high-risk malaria areas than previously thought (see World malaria map could guide control policy).

Reinvigorating research sectors in the developing world is a hot topic and so our collection of articles on funding for higher education received many hits, with What role for higher education in development? joining our facts and figures article (see above) at fourth and eighth respectively.

The intriguing subject of how the rural poor around the world are managing to connect to the Internet without being online was the subject of a feature (Rural Internet – not online but still connected) that came ninth.

Tapping into this thirst for information is the new agricultural "Wikipedia" launched in India earlier this year, an article about which came tenth in our hit list (see India debuts 'agricultural Wikipedia').

We also assessed which of our approximately 500 news stories you liked most this year. The top ten included several of our immensely popular swine flu science updates (see for example Swine flu science update: 5 October 2009) and two articles on diminishing water supplies (see China's water deficit 'will create food shortage' and World's major rivers 'drying up').

The perpetual confusion about whether biofuels are goodies or baddies in the drive for a cleaner planet may be the reason for the success of Biofuels bottom of the heap in impact study. But who can explain why the fifth most popular news story of 2009 was Tomatoes thrive on urine diet?

What was your favourite SciDev.Net story of 2009? Add your comment below.

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