Interest in the special problems of rural areas and concern with rural development in general have increased substantially throughout much of the world in the years since about 1960. Attesting to this has been the dramatic increase in attention to rural problems in the scholarly and popular literature and by government agencies. At first the dominant focus was on development projects and the creation of new jobs. It was not long, however, until other related issues came to the fore, in particular the availability and quality of public services essential to achieve economic growth and improvement and having a direct bearing on the well-being of rural peoples. Most nations of the world have developed plans and launched pro-jects to improve rural public services and narrow urban-rural dif-ferentials in their provision. As one would expect, there have been great differences between nations in the severity of problems, foci of attention, program strategies and their general effectiveness, and degree of commitment and effort. Given this diversity, it seems ap-propriate to examine and compare rural service problems and efforts to ameliorate them in a sample of contrasting societies. Implicit is the conviction that (1) all nations can learn at least something from the experiences of others, and (2) by taking an international, com-parative view of the subject, certain generalizations can be established.