Around the world, 94 per cent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA in 2005.
At least 3,797 people were executed in 25 countries around the world in 2004, according to Amnesty International.
The number of executions in 2004 was the highest since 1996, when 4,272 executions were carried out worldwide.
Some reports have said that as many as 10,000 people are executed every year in China, although this number cannot be confirmed due to state secrecy.
Five countries abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2004: Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal and Turkey. This means that so far 120 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice around the globe.