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Corruption Perceptions Index - Part III - The Ugly

Dirty money changing hands, Bribery, Corruption
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CPI - Part I - The Good CPI - Part II - The Bad

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Several indices currently show that corruption remains a key issue not only in developing countries but also in many modern societies. How to control it better has thus become a major question of international development. Yet, the common corruption indices tell us mainly about how citizens and experts perceive the state of corruption in their society. They do not tell us anything about the causes of corruption nor about how the situation could be improved.


Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 - Part III (The Ugly)

Below is the list of countries that scored less than 30 points in the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International.

The list includes the countries which scored between 0 and 29 points. The political entities (states, kingdoms, emirates) with the highest level of corruption (perception), the most corrupt countries in the world.

Many of these countries also have the worst records for political rights, civil liberties, and freedom of the press and expression. They are at the top of Freedom House's List of the most repressive countries.

An interesting fact is, that a number of these countries engage in the exploitation of natural resources. Iraq and Venezuela are in the top 10 of the list of countries by oil exports; South Sudan, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Congo (DRC), and Turkmenistan are also in the crude-oil business.
In these countries, not only oil flows but also a lot of money, which, however, hardly ever reaches the population.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
Friedrich Nietzsche

No Flag Score Country Rank
29 Laos 134
Note: The small Buddhist country between Thailand and Vietnam has a communist government and is the only landlocked country in all of Southeast Asia.

Chaos in Laos is rampant corruption, despite recent efforts to eliminate it from the halls of government. According to the country's State Audit Organization (SAO). The organization reported massive losses resulting from "under-the-table" transactions by officials at all levels of government. [RFA]

Laos is a one-party state in which the ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) dominates all aspects of politics and severely restricts civil liberties. There is no organized opposition and no truly independent civil society. Reporting on the country is limited by the remoteness of some areas, the suppression of domestic media, and the opacity of the regime. Economic development has led to a rising tide of disputes over land and environmental issues. In recent years, a broad-based anti-corruption campaign has had some positive effects. [FH]
29 Mauritania 134
Note: Mauritania, a desert country in West Africa with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, is an Islamic Republic and one of Africa's youngest oil producers. Despite an abundance of natural resources, such as iron ore and copper, Mauritania remains poor.

Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981—the world's last country to do so—and criminalized it in 2007. The Global Slavery Index, which measures forced labor and forced marriage, estimates that in 2018 there are 90,000 people living in "modern slavery" in Mauritania, or 2.4 percent of the population, while 62 percent are "vulnerable" to modern slavery. [HRW]
Black Mauritanians, the Haratin population, women, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people face discrimination. The government has taken increased steps to implement laws that address the problem of institutionalized slavery and discrimination but continues to arrest antislavery and antidiscrimination activists. [FH]
29 Togo 134
Note: The Togolese Republic is a narrow country in West Africa with a short coastline on the Gulf of Guinea.

"Corruption is a national sport in Togo." Among the major corruption cases in which the Togolese state is allegedly involved is the concession of the autonomous Port of Lomé. The concession was, allegedly, granted to the Bolloré group in exchange for advice from its subsidiary Havas to President Faure Gnassingbé during his campaign for reelection to a second term in 2010. In addition, in the Petrolegate affair, large sums of money from the sale of petroleum products were allegedly embezzled by leading politicians.
Legally, the Togolese State has often adopted texts aimed at curbing the phenomenon of corruption, but the real problem lies in their application. [Sorbonne University]
28 Dominican Republic 137
Note: The prospect of an inexpensive, all-inclusive, adults-only vacation with a vibrant nightlife in a tropical setting has made the Dominican Republic the most popular destination in the Caribbean.

The island country holds regular elections that are relatively free, though recent years have been characterized by controversies involving the electoral framework. Pervasive corruption undermines state institutions, and discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants, as well as against LGBT people, remains a serious problem. [FH]
28 Guinea 137
Note: The Republic of Guinea on the west coast of Africa is rich in mineral resources and has great potential for hydropower.

Alpha Condé won a third term as president of Guinea in the October 2020 presidential election, made possible by a March 2020 constitutional referendum that allowed him to run despite a two-term limit.
Condé's assumption of power in December 2010 was the first truly democratic transfer of power in his country's 52-year independent history - a history of authoritarian and military rule marked by episodes of severe repression and spectacular brutality. [BBC]
28 Liberia 137
Note: The country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa was founded as a settlement for freed slaves from the US in 1822.

Despite high expectations for Liberian President George Manneh Weah, a Liberian politician and former professional footballer who came to power in 2018 in Liberia's first democratic transition of power in more than 70 years - corruption continues to permeate Liberian politics and public service. Allegations of patronage, nepotism and cronyism plague politics, petty corruption is rife, and judicial independence is weak. [TI]
28 Myanmar 137
Note: Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a Southeast Asian Buddhist country west of Thailand on the Bay of Bengal.

Myanmar once again came under global scrutiny in February 2021 when democratically elected members of the country's ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by Myanmar's military, which subsequently reasserted power over the country. The renewed seizure of power by the army, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, led to nationwide protests, some of which were bloodily put down by the military.
For more than 60 years, Myanmar was in the iron grip of the military.

Min Aung Hlaing, the most powerful person in Myanmar, was little known outside the country's military circles until the villages started burning. Within just a few weeks in 2009, his forces drove tens of thousands of people out of two ethnic enclaves in eastern Myanmar — first the Shan, near the Thai border, then the Kokang, closer to China. Locals accused his soldiers of murder, rape and systematic arson. The methods his forces used in 2009 have all been on display in 2017, as the military has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims out of Myanmar in a campaign the United States has declared to be ethnic cleansing. [New York Times]
28 Paraguay 137
Note: From 1954 to 1989, the landlocked country in the center of South America was ruled by dictator Alfredo Stroessner, a Paraguayan Army officer with German roots. As an anti-communist, Stroessner had the backing of the United States for most of his time in power.
Since the country's return to democracy, Paraguay has held relatively free and regular presidential elections. Today, the country is also known for weak border controls, extensive corruption and money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area; weak anti-money-laundering laws and enforcement. [CIA]
27 Angola 142
Note: The country on the west coast of southern Africa was a Portuguese colony until it achieved independence in 1975.

Corruption remains widespread in Angola due to a lack of checks and balances, insufficient institutional capacity and a culture of impunity. Practices of nepotism, cronyism, and patronage pervade procurement rendering the procurement process opaque and corrupt. The oil and mining sector in Angola is considered particularly vulnerable to corruption. [R&C]
27 Djibouti 142
Note: The small country to the north of the Horn of Africa occupies a strategic geographic location at the intersection of the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden.
The port of Djibouti serves as the main transshipment port for imports and exports to and from landlocked Ethiopia.

The country hosts the largest permanent American military base in Africa and is in talks with China who wants to establish its first official overseas naval base there. [BBC]

On the other hand, Djibouti is a poor, predominantly urban country characterized by high rates of illiteracy, unemployment, and childhood malnutrition. In 1999, Djibouti's first multiparty presidential election resulted in the election of Ismail Omar Guelleh as president; he was reelected to a second term in 2005 and extended his tenure in office via a constitutional amendment, which allowed him to serve a third term in 2011 and begin a fourth term in 2016. [CIA]
27 Papua New Guinea 142
Note: Papua New Guinea consists of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and some neighboring islands.
Papua New Guinea is a democracy in which elections are held regularly, but they are often overshadowed by irregularities and violence. Party ties are unstable, and only two governments have survived a full term in office since independence in 1975. Since the turn of the millennium, however, a boom in mineral extraction has helped each incumbent government consolidate its control. The judiciary is largely independent, and the media are largely free to criticize the government. Corruption remains a serious problem. [FH]
27 Uganda 142
Note: The tropical landlocked country in East Africa encompasses a big part of Lake Victoria.
Uganda's 2021 elections, in which President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, emerged victorious, were marked by widespread violence and repression. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and beat opposition supporters and journalists, killed protestors, and disrupted opposition rallies. There is still no willingness to end the violations of freedom of association, assembly and expression that persist in Uganda. Nongovernmental organizations risk politically motivated charges for allegedly failing to comply with legal provisions that impose vague "special obligations" on independent groups. [HRW]
Uganda's police, judiciary and procurement are areas where the risk of corruption is very high and cash payments are expected under the table. [R&C]
26 Bangladesh 146
Note: The Islamic country in the Ganges Delta was formerly part of Pakistan and became, after a civil war, an independent republic in 1971.
Although Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, the country is plagued by endemic corruption. It is a paradoxical state of affairs, as high levels of corruption go hand in hand with decent levels of economic growth. While laws to address corruption exist, they are not implemented adequately, nor are relevant institutions effective. Grand and petty forms of corruption occur across various sectors: police, judiciary, healthcare and education. [TI]
26 Central African Republic 146
Note: The landlocked country in Central Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world and is grappling with numerous human capital challenges. The country suffers from pervasive insecurity and an absence of state authority in much of the nation. A series of peace deals between the government and various armed groups have not produced improvements in the security situation. Violent attacks against civilians, including sexual violence, are an acute risk in many areas. There is little support for independent journalists, and workers with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), particularly aid workers, operate at great personal risk. Corruption and nepotism have long been pervasive in all branches of government, and addressing public-sector corruption is difficult given the lack of state capacity and political will. [FH]
26 Uzbekistan 146
Note: The independent republic in Central Asia was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union and is one of the six Turkic states.
Uzbekistan remains an authoritarian state with few signs of democratization. No opposition parties operate legally. The legislature and judiciary effectively serve as instruments of the executive branch, which initiates reforms by decree, and the media are still tightly controlled by the authorities. The country's leadership is not freely elected, and the legislature serves as a rubber stamp for the executive branch. Corruption is pervasive. Graft and bribery among low- and mid-level officials remain common and are at times conducted overtly and without subterfuge. However, petty corruption among traffic police and officials granting identification documents and registrations has been notably reduced in recent years by pilot programs that introduced video surveillance and traffic cameras. [FH]
25 Cameroon 149
Note: The Central African tropical country on the Gulf of Guinea is known as "Africa in miniature" because of its geographical and cultural diversity. It is also known for widespread corruption.

The recent arrest of a former official in Cameroon for alleged corruption has sparked a debate over whether the government is actually trying to stamp out corruption, or is cracking down on anyone it sees as a challenger to longtime President Paul Biya.
At least two dozen former government officials have been arrested and imprisoned in Cameroon over the past 10 years, including a former prime minister, several ex-ministers, and heads of state-owned corporations. [VOA]

Paul Biya has been in office since November 1982; he is the longest-reigning non-royal head of state in the world and the oldest head of state in Africa. He was re-elected by large margins in 1997, 2004, 2011 and 2018. Opposition politicians and Western governments have alleged voting irregularities and fraud on each of these occasions. [Wikipedia]

President Paul Biya's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) has held on to power by rigging elections, using state resources for political patronage and restricting the activities of opposition parties. Security forces use force to crack down on anti-government protests. The insurgent group Boko Haram continues to attack civilians in northern Cameroon, and security forces responding to the insurgency have been accused of committing human rights abuses against civilians. [FH]
25 Guatemala 149
Note: Guatemala is a country in Central America, bordered by Mexico to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the south, with a narrow access to the Caribbean Sea to the east.
According to the World Bank, Guatemala has persistently high poverty rates and high levels of inequality, with indigenous peoples remaining particularly disadvantaged.

Despite widespread support from the broader Guatemalan population for an anti-corruption movement, a coordinated effort to reverse this important progress began to take shape among members of the corrupt Guatemalan elite. Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales and some of his allies in Congress and the economic sector began a pro-impunity campaign that stigmatized social leaders and justice officials, passed impunity laws that protected them from prosecution, and suffocated media outlets and businesses that supported the fight against corruption. [WOLA]
25 Iran 149
Note: Iran, formerly called Persia, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia, between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

A powerful system of political patronage, nepotism and cronyism permeates all sectors of the economy. Irregular payments and bribes are often exchanged to obtain services, permits, or public contracts. The Rouhani government has addressed the need to curb corruption, but it is failing to exert sufficient pressure on the hardliners who control key state institutions, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the judiciary. While there are several laws criminalizing various forms of corruption in both the public and private sectors, they are not effectively enforced in practice, and impunity is pervasive. [R&C]
25 Lebanon 149
Note: Lebanon is an Arab country in the Middle East on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea between Syria and Israel.

The devastating consequences of corruption in Lebanon were rarely out of the news in 2020. The destruction, injury and terrible loss of life caused by the Beirut port explosion is just the most obvious example of systemic issues that have plagued the country for many years. Despite massive protests against corruption and poverty in October 2019, no major corruption investigations have started, nor have any public officials been put on trial. [TI]
25 Madagascar 149
Note: Madagascar is a tropical country on the fourth largest island in the world, known for its unique biodiversity. The island is separated from the African mainland by the Mozambique Channel.

Madagascar struggles with systemic corruption, a weak rule of law and porous borders. It has an abundance of natural resources, which in turn has led to various organized criminal networks dealing in illicit trade. The ongoing COVID crisis has only exacerbated environmental crime. While extensive research has already been conducted on the rosewood and turtle trades, an understanding of the illegal gold sector is needed. The trafficking routes for wildlife and gems or cannabis appear to be the same, but it remains to be determined if there are overlaps in the crime networks. [TI]
25 Mozambique 149
Note: Mozambique is a southeastern African country with a long coastline along the Mozambique Channel (Indian Ocean).

In the last seven years, Mozambique dropped several points on the CPI. An increase in abductions and attacks on political analysts and investigative journalists creates a culture of fear, which is detrimental to fighting corruption. Home to one of Africa's biggest corruption scandals, Mozambique recently faced indictments of several of its former government officials by US officials. Former finance minister and Credit Suisse banker, Manuel Chang, is charged with concealing more than US$2 billion of hidden loans and bribes. [TI]

25 Nigeria 149
Note: Nigeria is a country in West Africa with a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. A population of 211 million people (in 2021) makes Nigeria the most populous country in Africa.

Governance conditions have broadly improved over the past two decades, yet corruption, ethno-religious tensions, security force abuses, discrimination against women and sexual minorities, and government harassment of political opponents and journalists remain key challenges. In 2015, Nigeria underwent its first democratic transfer of power between political parties when former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari won office on a groundswell of discontent over corruption, economic malaise, and rising insecurity. Buhari won reelection in 2019, in elections that featured historically low turnout, pervasive vote-buying and widespread violence and heightened concerns over Nigeria's democratic trajectory. [CRS]

25 Tajikistan 149
Note: Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. The former Soviet republic borders Xinjiang, an autonomous region of China, to the east.
The Tajik culture is very similar to that of neighboring Afghanistan in terms of language, customs and beliefs.

Tajikistan is a poor, mountainous country with an economy dominated by minerals extraction, metals processing, agriculture, and reliance on remittances from citizens working abroad. Hydropower plants are currently operating well below capacity, even though the country has the greatest potential for hydropower in the world. [CIA]

Tajikistan faces many challenges, including underdeveloped border security, widespread corruption, inadequate health and education systems, and food and energy shortages. Regional threats include violent extremism, terrorism, and the trafficking of narcotics and weapons. [US DoS]
24 Honduras 157
Note: The Central American country occupies a mountainous part of the land bridge that connects North and South America.

According to many analysts, corruption in Honduras is deeply entrenched. Honduran officials, including national legislators, have diverted significant state resources into their pockets and political campaigns and used the state apparatus to protect and direct resources to their private-sector allies.
On 19 January 2020, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández allowed the mandate of the Organization of American States (OAS)-backed Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) to expire. [CRS]
24 Zimbabwe 157
Note: The landlocked country in southeastern Africa was formerly known as Rhodesia.

Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) dominated Zimbabwean politics since independence in 1980, in part by carrying out severe and often violent crackdowns against the political opposition, critical media, and other dissenters.
However, as the ZANU-PF fragmented, Mugabe was removed from power in 2017 through a military intervention, and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president, was installed as president.
The 2018 presidential election, while deeply flawed, restored elected executive power in the country. Endemic corruption, the weak rule of law, and poor protections for workers and land rights remain among Zimbabwe's critical challenges. Zimbabwe's status declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to the authorities' intensifying persecution of opposition figures and civic activists. [FH]
22 Nicaragua 159
Note: Nicaragua is the largest country on the Isthmus of Panama; it borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Nicaragua ranks second to last among Central American and Caribbean countries in the Global Peace Index 2020 (PDF).

Nicaragua is rated Not Free by the Freedom House. The election of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in 2006 began a period of democratic deterioration marked by the consolidation of all branches of government under his party's control, the limitation of fundamental freedoms, and unchecked corruption in government. In 2018, state forces, with the aid of informally allied armed groups, responded to a mass anti-government movement with violence and repression. The rule of law collapsed as the government moved to put down the movement, with rights monitors reporting the deaths of at least 325 people, extrajudicial detentions, disappearances, and torture. The crisis continued into 2019 as arbitrary arrests and detentions continued, and perceived government opponents reported surveillance and monitoring. [FH]
21 Cambodia 160
Note: The country in Southeast Asia between Thailand and southern Vietnam is best known for Angkor Wat and the mass-killings by the Khmer Rouge.

Under Cambodia's 2010 anti-corruption law, any public official found guilty of corruption faces up to 15 years in prison. Nevertheless, corruption is a major problem in the country, especially in child labor and other cases of human trafficking.

Corruption has pervaded almost every sector of Cambodian public life, with a system of patronage well entrenched in society. Both petty and grand forms of corruption are widespread. Law enforcement agencies are perceived as the most corrupt and inefficient sectors, lacking the independence, resources and capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption cases. [TI] [Khmer Times]
21 Chad 160
Note: The large landlocked country in north-central Africa spans three climatic zones, the Sahara desert zone in the north, the arid Sahel belt in the center, and the more fertile Sudanian savanna zone in the south.

Despite vast oil wealth, Chad is among the poorest countries in the world. The former French colony was ruled with an iron hand since 1990 by Idriss Déby, who was president of the country for more than 30 years until he was killed on 20 April 2021 while commanding his army against FACT rebels.

Corruption, bribery, and nepotism are endemic and pervasive in Chad. High-profile journalists, labor leaders, and religious figures have faced harsh reprisals for speaking out about corruption, including arrest, prosecution, and expulsion from the country. Corruption charges against high-level officials that do go forward are widely viewed as selective prosecutions meant to discredit those who pose a threat to Déby or his allies. [FH]

21 Comoros 160
Note: Comoros is an African island nation consisting of a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between the African mainland and Madagascar.

Comoros' volatile political history includes a series of coups and attempted coups, although recent presidential and parliamentary elections have gone reasonably well.
In 2018, a controversial referendum ushered in a number of major systemic changes, and opponents of the referendum were severely persecuted. Systemic corruption and poverty remain problems. [FH]

21 Eritrea 160
Note: Eritrea is a small state in northeastern Africa with a coastline on the Red Sea. Today's Eritrea was formerly an Italian colony and was incorporated into Haile Selassie's Ethiopian Empire as the province of Eritrea in 1961. After a thirty-year war of independence, Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993.

For almost 30 years, since independence, the country has been run by Isayas Afewerki. No elections have been held since his inauguration, and Afwerki openly admitted that he did not intend to hold elections for the next decades, which is why he is referred to as a dictator by Western media.

The Eritrean society is dominated by the military, with most citizens required to perform open-ended military or other national services. Eritrea's conscription system ties most able-bodied men and women—including those under 18 who are completing secondary school—to obligatory military service, which can also entail compulsory, unpaid labor for enterprises controlled by the political elite. Movement within the country is restricted. [FH]
21 Iraq 160
Note: The Middle Eastern country between Iran and Saudi Arabia is best known for being ruled by Saddam Hussein and "liberated" by the Americans. The Arab country was conquered by the Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS/Daesh) to establish an Islamic caliphate in majority Sunni areas of Iraq.

The country is still in trouble, as the government suffers from a profound legitimacy deficit among the Iraqi people. All three of Iraq's major societal groups, at least at the street level, the Shia Arabs, the Sunni Arabs, and the Kurds, all have rejected the existing political status quo. Especially Shia Arabs, the largest single component of Iraq's society, have taken to the streets in huge numbers to demand a fundamental change to the political system. But the ruling elite has responded to the peaceful protests with violence, arrests, and "disappearances" of protesters. [CSIS]

In addition, an estimated $150 billion of stolen oil money has been smuggled out of Iraq in corrupt deals since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. [CNN]
19 Afghanistan 165
Note: The country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia is known for being one of the most invaded countries in recent history. The landlocked mountainous nation is among the largest opium producers in the world and home to Mujahideen warlords and Pashtun tribesmen known as the Taliban.

Now the United States and its international partners are withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan, heralding a possible end to nearly two decades of US military presence in the country. [CRS]

The withdrawal of international troops will leave a power vacuum that the Afghan government will have difficulty filling without help.

19 Burundi 165
Note: Burundi is a central African country located south of Rwanda and bordering the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika.

Since Burundi became a republic in 1966, state capture, mostly by the Tutsi elite, was at the center of politics, and the unfair wealth distribution fuelled conflict. While the 1993-2003 civil war has not threatened the Tutsi political and economic domination, it has increased corruption and favored the rise of an ethnically diverse oligarchy.
When the CNDD-FDD rebellion came to power in 2005, it intended not only to transfer political power from the Tutsi to the Hutu but also to improve governance. The new authorities pledged to fight corruption and created state structures to this effect. However, the first corruption scandals involving the CNDD-FDD dignitaries and state officials watered down the hope of a more equitable wealth distribution. [International Crisis Group]
19 Congo, Rep. of 165
Note: The Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, is a country in Central Africa bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest.

Corruption is widespread in the Republic of Congo. Almost every sector of the economy suffers from rampant corruption. President Sassou Nguesso has a firm grip on power, making all state institutions vulnerable to political influence and patronage.
The government has created a set of rules to combat corruption; however, implementation remains very poor and government officials commit corruption with impunity. [R&C]
19 Guinea-Bissau 165
Note: Guinea-Bissau is a small tropical country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa.

Guinea-Bissau's lack of ability to control its porous land, sea, and air borders and offshore territory, weak state structures, political instability, and widespread impunity make it a safe haven for organized crime networks. [UNODC]
19 Turkmenistan 165
Note: The worst-rated Central Asian country is one of the six Turkic states, located between the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan.

Turkmenistan is a repressive authoritarian state where political rights and civil liberties are almost completely denied in practice. Elections are tightly controlled, ensuring nearly unanimous victories for the president and his supporters. The economy is dominated by the state and corruption is systemic, religious groups are persecuted, and political dissent is not tolerated.
There are no independent institutions tasked with combating corruption. Anticorruption bodies have allegedly been used to extort revenue from wealthy officials and businesspeople. Crackdowns on corruption are typically selective and related to conflicts within the ruling elite. [FH]
18 Congo (DRC) 170
Note: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a large multi-ethnic country in Central Africa, was formerly known as Zaire.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has historically experienced violence and extensive abuse of power. Protracted civil wars combined with persistent mismanagement of state resources have placed the DRC in the group of fragile states with the world's worst infrastructure. Bribery, lack of political integrity, and weak oversight institutions exacerbate patronage politics, rent-seeking, and instability throughout the country. [TI]

Because of the many problems DR Congo has faced since independence, a United Nations peacekeeping force (MONUSCO) has been monitoring the peace process in the second Congo war since 1999; it is the largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping mission in the world. [CIA]
18 Haiti 170
Note: The worst-rated Caribbean country occupies the western third of Hispaniola; it shares the island with the Dominican Republic.

Political instability [...] continued to hinder the Haitian government's ability to meet the basic needs of the population, resolve long-standing human rights problems, and manage humanitarian crises.
Corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, resurgent gang violence, and disproportionate use of force by police against protesters remain major human rights concerns in Haiti. [HRW]

18 North Korea 170
Note: Worst-rated socialist state. North Korea is the bogeyman of the world.
North Korea occupies the northern half of the Korean Peninsula; it borders South Korea in the south, China in the north and shares an 18 km (10 mi) long border with Russia in the northeast.

It is one of the most secretive countries in the world. The list of presidents of North Korea is short. Since 1948, the country has been ruled by three men from the same family. Few foreigners are allowed to visit North Korea, some of them do not survive.

North Korea was founded as a classless society, but a new, privileged elite of high-ranking military and KWP officials has emerged.

The Western media likes to portray North Korean society as brainwashed automatons who blindly follow their Supreme Leader. This may be true in parts. But the North Korean famine of the 1990s contributed to the emergence of a black market economy (jangmadang) that could change the social structure of the country, if it has not already. A fundamental shift has been taking place: an economic revolution led by a generation of millennials who grew up as capitalists in a theoretically communist state. [WP]
17 Libya 173
Note: The worst-rated North African country. Libya is a large oil-rich deserted country; its population is concentrated mainly along the Mediterranean coast and in the immediate hinterland, where the de facto capital Tripoli (Ṭarābulus) and Banghāzī (Benghazi), another major city, are located.

Muammar Gaddafi, another Supreme Leader (brotherly leader and leader of the revolution of Libya) ruled the country for 42 years before he died in a drain pipe, shot by one of his followers to save him from capture (so the legend goes).

Since Gaddafi's death, Libya remained trapped in a spiral of violence involving armed groups, sectarian, ethnic groups and external interference that have led the country into absolute chaos.
The country was divided between rival governments in the east and west, and among multiple armed groups competing for quotas of power, control of the country and its wealth. [Telesur]

On 10 March 2021, an interim unity government was formed, and is slated to remain in place until the 2021 Libyan general election in December.

16 Equatorial Guinea 174
Note: Equatorial Guinea is a small, tropical, oil-rich country in west-central Africa. It consists of a mainland area (Río Muni), Bioko Island and four small offshore islands. Its capital, Malabo, is located on Bioko Island.

In the 1980s, substantial oil and natural gas reserves were discovered beneath the seabed of Equatorial Guinea's offshore waters. The discovery of oil made the country one of the richest states in Africa. Oil revenues account for four-fifths of the country's GDP. Despite the bubbling source of money, the standard of living for most people has not improved.

Companies engaged in oil and gas exploitation in Equatorial Guinea include Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil Corp, Kosmos Energy, and Noble Energy. [REUTERS]

The list of presidents of Equatorial Guinea is also very short. Teodoro Obiang is the 2nd president of Equatorial Guinea since independence in 1968 (from Spain). He deposed his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema, the country's first president and one of the most brutal dictators in history, in a military coup in 1979.

Obiang's four decades in power should not be misunderstood as a sign of peaceful stability or prosperity. Human Rights Watch and other independent groups have for years documented the Equatorial Guinean government's relentless repression of civil society and political opposition groups, and the staggering corruption that has siphoned off the country's oil wealth. [HRW]

16 Sudan 174
Note: Sudan is a vast country in northeastern Africa south of Egypt, with a coastline on the Red Sea. It became an independent republic in 1956, but suffered greatly from the protracted civil war between the Islamic government in the north and separatist forces in the south and the west, particularly in the Darfur region. In 2011, the southern part of the country became independent South Sudan.

Sudanese President and longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed and arrested by the military in 2019 after nearly 30 years in power. Bashir led a revolt that overthrew Sudan's elected government in 1989. When he seized power, Sudan was in the midst of a 21-year civil war between the Arab north and the African south.
Although his government signed an agreement to end that conflict in 2005, another broke out at the same time - in the western region of Darfur, where Mr. Bashir is accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of organizing war crimes and crimes against humanity. [BBC]

15 Venezuela 176
Note: The worst-rated South American country. Venezuela is located on the northern coast of the South American continent and borders the Caribbean Sea. The country has been an oil producer since 1914, when the first commercial oil well was drilled in the Mene Grande field on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo.

Venezuela's democratic institutions have deteriorated since 1999, but conditions have worsened dramatically in recent years due to the continued concentration of power in the executive branch and the crackdown on opposition.
The authorities have closed virtually all channels for political dissent, restricting civil liberties and prosecuting perceived opponents without regard for due process. The country's severe humanitarian crisis has left millions struggling to meet their basic needs and driven into mass emigration.
Government corruption is pervasive, and law enforcement agencies have proven incapable of curbing violent crime. [FH]
15 Yemen 176
Note: Yemen is located in the south and southwest of the Arabian Peninsula; it is one of the poorest nations in the Arab world. The country has been devastated by a civil war that began in 2004 and, with brief interruptions, continues to this day.

Ali Abdullah Saleh was president of northern Yemen from 1978 to 1990 and president of the reunified Yemen from May 1990 until his (forced) resignation on 25 February 2012. Saleh spent years setting up a complicated network of alliances between the country's military, civil and tribal groups, fuelling societal divisions by playing enemies off one another in a bid to weaken his opposition.
After his removal, the UN Security Council found that he had amassed between $32bn and $60bn through corruption during his 33 years in power. [Al Jazeera]
14 Syria 178
Note: The worst-rated Middle Eastern country and the lowest-ranked Arab country. Syria borders the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel (Golan Heights).

It took the al-Assad family 50 years to completely ruin the country, once the site of various early civilizations, most notably that of the Phoenicians. In 1971 Hafez al-Assad became President of Syria. After his death in June 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad succeeded him.

It took Hafez al-Assad three coups to become the undisputed leader of Syria. During the Cold War, he sided with the Soviet Union in return for support against Israel. Although he had abandoned the pan-Arab concept of unifying the Arab world into one Arab nation, he sought to make Syria the defender of Arab interests against Israel. During his tenure, Assad, an Alawite, organized state services along sectarian lines (Sunnis became the heads of political institutions, while Alawites took control of the military, intelligence, and security apparatuses). [openDemocracy] [REUTERS] [Stratfor]
12 Somalia 179
Note: Somalia is located in the east of the African continent, in the Horn of Africa on the Somali Peninsula, which borders the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The country was formed from the merger of the colonial territories of British and Italian Somaliland, which became jointly independent in 1960.

Somalia is considered an extremely fragile and undeveloped state, both in terms of political and economic development. After the fall of the authoritarian government under Siad Barre in 1991, no functioning central government existed for more than 20 years due to the still ongoing civil war.
The transitional governments formed from 2000 onward under the protection of the international community were largely unsuccessful; at times, they were barely able to keep the capital under their control.

The country's territory is divided among an internationally supported national government, the Shabaab militant group, a fledgling federalist system with states often at odds with the central government, and a separatist government in Somaliland. No direct national elections have been held to date, and political affairs are dominated by clan divisions. Amid ongoing insecurity, impunity for human rights abuses by both state and nonstate actors is the norm. However, citizens have experienced modest gains in civil liberties in recent years as the government and international troops have reclaimed territory from the Shabaab. [FH]
12 South Sudan 179
Note: South Sudan is a landlocked country in northeastern Africa, west of Ethiopia and south of Sudan. After years of civil war, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but violence rages on in the world's youngest nation.

Abuses against civilians, including appalling levels of sexual violence, have forced more than four million people to flee their homes and left seven million South Sudanese – over half the population – in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018. Prospects for peace are uncertain, as South Sudan's government has shown a reluctance to end the fighting or to prioritize the needs of its citizens. [US DoS]

The country descended into civil war in 2013, when a rift between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, whom he sacked, sparked fighting between their supporters and divided the country along ethnic lines. A peace agreement reached in 2018 further delayed overdue national elections and led to an uneasy division of power among political elites responsible for rampant corruption, economic collapse, and atrocities against civilians, journalists, and aid workers. [FH]

CPI - Part I - The Good CPI - Part II - The Bad


The top-ranked countries (with a score of 50 to 100) are the nations with the lowest level of corruption (perception) or the least corrupt nations worldwide.

The lowest ranked countries (with a score less than 30) are the political entities (states) with the highest level of corruption (perception), the most corrupt countries in the world.

The CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 100 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).

The lowest ranked countries in the CPI, with a score between 0 and 29 points, are the political entities (states, kingdoms, emirates) with the highest level of corruption (perception), the most corrupt countries in the world.


Related Categories:

Corruption Perceptions Index 2016
Corruption Perceptions Index 2005

Countries and Press Freedom
The Press Freedom Index.
Human Development Index (HDI)
Countries by standards of the UN Human Development Index.
First, Second and Third World
A list of states of the first, second and the third world, with an explanation of the terms.
Nations in Transit
Comparative study of post-communist nations in transit to democracy.



Countries by Continents
Africa | Asia | Australia-Oceania | The Americas | Europe