Special Report

The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

More than half of the world’s population believes corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Liberia and Mongolia are the two most corrupt countries in the world, according to a recent study. In both countries, 86% of residents believe corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Residents in the vast majority of countries around the world believe corruption has only gotten worse in the past two years.

Anti-corruption nonprofit Transparency International has released its 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, which surveyed residents in 107 countries. The world’s corrupt nations differ in many ways. Four are located in Africa, three in Latin America and two in Asia. These nations also vary considerably in size and population. Mongolia has just 3.2 million residents, while Mexico, Nigeria and Russia are three of the largest countries on the globe, each with more than 100 million people. Based on the percentage of surveyed residents that reported corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem, these are the world’s most corrupt nations.

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What many of these nations do have in common is that their people are largely opposed to corruption. Globally, 69% of people questioned by Transparency International said they would report corruption if they encountered it. In seven of the nine nations with the worst corruption, residents were at least slightly more likely to oppose corruption. In Paraguay, one of the countries with high corruption, 90% of citizens said they would report corruption, while 87% and 86% said they would do so in Mexico and Russia, respectively.

Many of those surveyed in the highly corrupt countries also felt their governments were not holding up their end of the bargain. In seven of the nine countries, more than half of those questioned felt their government was ineffective at fighting corruption. In Liberia, 86% of residents surveyed said their government was ineffective at fighting the problem. This was the largest proportion of any of the 107 nations Transparency International surveyed.

While corruption appears to affect every part of the public sector, certain segments were much worse than the rest. Globally, at least 60% of respondents claimed political parties and police were corrupt. Additionally, more than 50% of people stated their legislature, their public officials and their judiciary were corrupt.

In the world’s most corrupt nations, those institutions were, naturally, even worse. In Nigeria, 94% of people claimed their political parties were corrupt, the most in the world. Similarly, 96% of Liberians reported their legislature was corrupt, also the most in the world. In eight of the nine most corrupt nations, more than 80% of residents considered the police to be corrupt.

Many of these nations remain among the world’s less-developed, and they lack the resources of the United States, Japan and the European Union nations. Among the most corrupt nations, only Mexico, Russia and Venezuela had an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita over $10,000 in 2012. None were among the top 50 nations measured in GDP per capita. By comparison, the U.S. per capita GDP was estimated to be nearly $50,000.

Based on figures published by Transparency International, 24/7 Wall St. determined the nations with the highest percentage of respondents who claimed corruption was a very serious problem. Transparency International also provided other figures on corruption perception. Data on GDP by nation came from the International Monetary Fund. Population statistics are from The CIA World Factbook.