Special Report

Most Corrupt Countries in the World

Source: Lucas Green / Getty Images

5. Korea, North
> Corruption index score (0-100): 14
> Population: 25.5 million
> Region: Asia Pacific

North Korea is a closed society completely dominated by the communist party. Transparency International gives the nation a score of 14 based on “widespread and enduring corruption across the country.” A BBC report said aid groups estimate that as many as 2 million people have died since the mid-1990s because of severe food shortages caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement.

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4. Yemen
> Corruption index score (0-100): 14
> Population: 28.3 million
> Region: Middle East & North Africa

Yemen is another country Americans have been told not to visit because of terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict. The nation at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula has been engulfed in civil war since 2011. The conflict has led to the destruction of infrastructure including housing, medical facilities, schools, and utilities. Even before the war, there were concerns about corruption. Conflicts-of-interest safeguards in Yemen were deemed “very weak,” according to a 2010 report by Global Integrity.

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3. South Sudan
> Corruption index score (0-100): 13
> Population: 12.6 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

South Sudan, created in 2011 and one of the world’s newer nations, descended into civil war in 2013. That conflict has displaced some 4 million people. Media is tightly controlled in South Sudan and journalists risk arrest and possibly worse. State-owned South Sudan TV has little competition. Legal institutions in South Sudan are weak.

Source: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons

2. Syria
> Corruption index score (0-100): 13
> Population: 18.3 million
> Region: Middle East & North Africa

The Middle Eastern nation has been racked by civil war since the “Arab Spring” uprising in 2011. The conflict has killed 250,000 and created 5.6 million refugees. President Bashar al-Assad has used heavy-handed methods, including poison gas, against his own people to try and retain control of the country. Besides the human toll, the World Bank estimates the civil war has cost Syria about $226 billion in cumulative GDP losses from 2011 to 2016.

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1. Somalia
> Corruption index score (0-100): 10
> Population: 14.7 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia is a failed state because of civil war, Islamic extremism, and drought, and is at the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The U.S. State Department has issued a “do not travel” advisory to the East African nation because of threats of crime, terrorism, and piracy. More than half of the country’s 15 million people live in poverty.