Special Report

The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

12. Eritrea
> Corruption index score (0-100):
18 (tied-12th worst)
> Population: 6.8 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> GDP per capita: $1,175.72

With a GDP per capita of just $1,176, Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world. In addition to insufficient economic resources, Eritrea’s corrupt political leadership undermines basic welfare in the country. After more than 30 years of conflict, the country gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. At the time, a legislative body chose Isaias Afwerki to serve as president until formal elections could be held. Afwerki has stayed in power ever since, establishing an authoritarian rule accused of numerous human rights violations. While corrupt governments are known for squandering foreign aid money, Eritrea has on numerous occasions refused aid from international relief organizations. Eritrea ranks 101st in money received through foreign aid. Yet, Afwerki may not have his people’s best interest in mind. The United Nations estimates as many as two thirds of Eritreans suffer from malnourishment.

11. Venezuela
> Corruption index score (0-100):
17 (tied-9th worst)
> Population: 30.9 million
> Region: Americas
> GDP per capita: $15,891.69

The relationship between corruption and income is complicated. Still, most nations that struggle with the most severe corruption problems tend to be extremely poor. Countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Eritrea, for example, have GDPs per capita of less than $2,000. Venezuela’s GDP per capita, on the other hand, is more than $15,000. Still, according to Transparency International, corruption in Venezuela is widespread, and the government’s management of resources is inefficient at best and illegal at worst. An investigative report found that between 2010 and 2014, officials allowed 400 tons of medicine to remain in a warehouse and expire. Another investigation revealed that both the Venezuelan customs and military aided in the smuggling of powdered milk out of the country, resulting in a milk shortage across the country.

10. Guinea-Bissau
> Corruption index score (0-100):
17 (tied-9th worst)
> Population: 1.8 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> GDP per capita: $1,505.94

Like many of the poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture. The country has one of the largest cashew industries on the planet, which comprises a bulk of its total exports. However, another source of the country’s wealth — and ultimately corruption — is illegal drug trafficking. Guinea-Bissau is one of the major transit hubs in the flow of cocaine from South America to Europe. According to a U.N. report, the assassination of the country’s president in 2009 and a coup d’etat the following year may have been partially financed by drug money. With many of Guinea-Bissau leaders complicit in the drug trade, the government has done little to combat the problem. After the most recent coup in 2012, corruption and the associated consequences — drug trafficking, the illegal exploitation of timber and fish, and so forth — have been on the rise.

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