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The 10 Most Corrupt Countries and the 10 Least Corrupt Countries

Determining the level of corruption of countries across the world is an endeavor undertaken by Transparency International (TI), a non-government organization (NGO) devoted to ending corruption worldwide. TI defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. TI works closely with organizations that investigate and expose corruption, however, they have no legal authority over any state.

Transparency International has created a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) based on surveys conducted in 183 countries by 10 independent organizations who each give their own rating.   Information is gathered from various sources including banks, individual residents and businesses as well as other sources and international agencies.

The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is an additional means of attempting to rein in corruption. As of January, 2012 there have been 159 member states. UNCAC seeks to compel states to abide by and be legally bound to follow the principles of the Convention including prevention of corruption, criminalization of corrupt practices, international cooperation in investigations and recovery of assets. States that ratify or accede to the convention are legally obligated, however, those who sign but do not later ratify are not legally bound.

According to 2011 results from the Transparency International website , 183 counties were evaluated and given a score between zero and ten.  

Top Ten Most Corrupt Countries and UNCAC Status (beginning with the worst)

  • Somalia – Has not signed UNCAC
  • North Korea – Has not signed UNCAC
  • Myanmar – Signed UNCAC in 2005 but has not ratified
  • Afghanistan – Signed UNCAC 2004 and ratified in 2008
  • Uzbekistan – Acceded to UNCAC in 2008
  • Turkmenistan - Acceded to UNCAC in 2005
  • Sudan – Signed UNCAC in 2005 but has not ratified
  • Iraq - Acceded to UNCAC in 2008
  • Haiti – Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2009
  • Venzuela – Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2009

Top Ten Least Corrupt Countries and UNCAC Status

  • New Zealand - Signed UNCAC 2003 but has not ratified
  • Denmark – Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2006
  • Finland - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2006
  • Sweden - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2007
  • Singapore - Signed UNCAC 2005 and ratified in 2009
  • Norway - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2006
  • Netherlands - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2006
  • Australia - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2005
  • Switzerland - Signed UNCAC 2003 and ratified in 2009
  • Canada - Signed UNCAC 2004 and ratified in 2007

Ranking of Other Notable Countries

  • Japan - 14
  • Germany - 14
  • United Kingdom – 16
  • United States – 24
  • France - 25
  • Spain - 31
  • Saudi Arabia – 57
  • Italy - 69
  • China – 75
  • India – 95
  • Iran - 120
  • Russia – 143

Of 183 countries evaluated, only 48 scored above a rating of 5.0 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the cleanest rating. High levels of corruption are often seen in countries that are politically unstable and have a high level of poverty. Corruption affect those in poverty the most as it is oftentimes impossible to run a business or even buy necessary goods and services without paying a bribe to someone.  

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Comments (19)

I'm from Australia, so it's nice to see that we made the least corrupt list.

Yes, makes me wanna move there! I found it interesting to see which countries were on the top ten list but also not at all surprised at the bottom ten most corrupt countries. Poverty and political instability go hand in hand don't they.

Judith, this is a very interesting list. Some are not surprising but many are. Excellent work.

I am expecting my country, Philippines is included in the most corrupt list, there is an on-going political crisis with the impeachment trial of a supreme court justice. Two presidents was ousted via people power and one is accused and on-trial as of today, great facts here.

Philippines is ranked number 129 out of 183 on the corruption index with a rating score of 2.6 out of 10 with 10 being the best score. The Philippines did ratify the UN Convention against Corruption in 2006 a reminder that needs to be brought to the attention of the leadership. Although it seems to matter little when corrupt leaders sign a treaty or agreement of any sort. They are after all, corrupt. Even after the Arab Spring, Egypt is persecuting and prosecuting non-government organizations who try to help and compel transparency.

Wow the United States ranks at #24. I've realized long ago that corruption is evident in our system of government but it is still startling to see it in black and white.

#24 while concering is not really that bad when you consider the size of our government - particularly of late. As the government and beauracracy grows, corruption follows right along. It is actually worse now than in previous years and truly I am not trying to make excuses but It would be worth calling our congressmen and women and our senators to remind them that our country ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption and it is disturbing to NOT be counted in the top echelon of least corrupt countries.

keep in mind also that this process involves measuring corruption at the local government and businesses as well.

I agree that corruption is related to economic status. A poor man is susceptible to doing something nasty just to survive. But being poor is not an excuse to doing something bad. So this must be related to some inner belief in the person.

I think more than the poor man being corrupt is that his condition makes his victimization by corrupt individuals more serious. For example a shop owner may have to bribe the local police or pay protection just to be able to stay open and thereby the official who is lining their pockets at the expense of the poor shopkeeper is stealing food from that man's table. On the other hand, you are correct that poverty is no excuse to do bad, evil or corrupt things such as selling drugs and resorting to prostitution or becoming a thief.

without corruption..progress is within reach..shame on all the corrupts

Yeah Canada! I have heard that Pakistan is very corrupt, I have some people as online friends who live there and often write about the corruption there.

Pakistan ranks #134 and is tied with Eritria, Cameroon, Guyana, Lebanon, Maldives, Nicaragua, Niger and Sierra Leone. They all have a corruption index of 2.5

Great info. World is becoming more corrupted. Thank you my sister Judith for this awareness article. Voted.

Like Ron Siojo, I am surprised that the Philippines isn't the Top 10. Interesting article voted up!

Thanks for this info...Glad to see the UK is fairly free of corruption, though you wouldn't think it sometimes! Surprised to see Italy so high...Very interesting - voted up!

nice works Judith, votes

A fascinating, and important article. I remember when Azerbaijaheld the #2 spot for most corrupt nation 15 years ago. They seem tohave come a long way since then or managed to pull the blinds downsomehow. I lived there and you could not leave or enter the countrywithout bribing someone. It really does destroy society.

There are some countries you can almost excuse. Somalia ispretty much a failed state so I would imagine is stuck with the topspot.Sudan does surprise me a bit. Its interesting. I suppose thegovernment is but the people are among the least corrupt I haveworked with. In Saudi Arabia most accountants are from Sudan due totheir honesty and integrity. It made me reflect at corruption atdifferent levels: I have seen the newspaper articles about the''deals'' made at high levels between Saudi Arabia and Britianregarding the purchasing of new jet fighters. Quite astonishing toimagine that British companies would be bribing people who alreadyhave mlllions, if not billions, but I know from experience howinsulted a Saudi or indeed many Arabs would be if you tried to payfor a dinner or insisted on paying them for something in manycontexts. They would feel they have not been hospitable enough.

Now here in Finland, I see corruption at a high level on verylittle things locally, yet on a macro scale not at all. I agreewith your answer about Egypt. Actually it shows how things were notexactly how the media portrayed them to be I think.

Very interesting list. Like Ron, I was also expecting to see the Philippines in the most corrupt country list. Despite the many skilled workers, our country is still in poverty, yet olegarchs live their grandiose lives.

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