Special Report

Most Miserable Countries in the World

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10. Malawi
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 82.0%
> Residents who say they have social support: 52.7%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 79.9%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 53.6 years

Malawi is one of the least developed nations in the world, with roughly 85% of the population residing in rural areas. The country had among the five largest drops in happiness level. Just three years ago, nearly 20,000 people in the country died in one of the worst floods in recent memory.

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9. Haiti
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 39.5%
> Residents who say they have social support: 59.7%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 75.5%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 53.1 years

Haiti is no stranger to turbulent politics. Not only hurricanes and earthquakes disrupt the country — the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — every few years, but so does political turmoil. Who can forget Jean-Claude Duvalier — Haiti’s despotic ruler from the ’70s and ’80s? Haiti is one of three countries on this list where fewer than 40% of people surveyed believe they have the freedom to make life choices.

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8. Liberia
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 72.7%
> Residents who say they have social support: 65.6%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 89.1%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 52.4 years

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who served in office from 2006 to 2018, has gone on record to say that the country’s corruption levels permeate every level of the government. That is reflected in the UN survey, which found more than 89% of residents polled believe corruption is widespread in their government, second-highest on the list. That, as well as tribal and sectional divide and poverty are the biggest threats to the country’s stability.

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7. Syria
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 44.8%
> Residents who say they have social support: 46.2%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 68.0%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 61.0 years

Syria was among the countries with the five largest drops in happiness. That’s understandable given that the country has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011. Casualty reports range from at least 100,000 civilians killed to more than 400,000. Prior to the civil war, many Syrians were vocal about high unemployment rates, corruption, and the fact that President Bashar al-Assad has stamped out political freedom. Profound violations of human rights laws continue in the war-torn country.

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6. Rwanda
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 90.9%
> Residents who say they have social support: 67.2%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 12.6%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 56.6 years

Rwanda is a country of people whose resilience is undeniable. The 1994 genocide left the country in despair. Yet, Rwanda managed to pick itself up, even teaching the world what gender equality looks like. The country takes the top prize for the largest share of women in politics, with 64% of its legislature seats held by women. But word is that in daily, practical living, feminism is not actually looked upon favorably and still needs to trickle down from the top.