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For Your Un-Bucket List: the World’s 10 Most Corrupt Countries

Just as there are many reasons to visit some countries, so too are there many reasons to avoid other countries. When it comes to travel planning, corruption, and all that implies, should be a red flag, at least, if not a definitive deal-breaker.

Transparency International makes it its business to assess corruption levels around the world, and has published a Corruption Perceptions Index that ranks 168 countries according to their perceived level of corruption in the public sector. (The “perceived” qualifier is used to acknowledge that corruption can’t be quantified with a high degree of precision or objectivity. The rankings, then, are based on informed judgment.)

Corruption, as Transparency International points out, isn’t just about self-dealing politicians and bribe-taking police officers. It goes hand in hand with child labor, human trafficking, child mortality, poor education standards, environmental destruction, and terrorism. It’s not just distasteful and unethical; it’s potentially dangerous.

Here are the 10 countries judged the most corrupt:

  1. Somalia (tied for worst)
  2. North Korea (tied for worst)
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Sudan
  5. South Sudan
  6. Angola
  7. Libya
  8. Iraq
  9. Venezuela
  10. Guinea-Bissau

At the other end of the corruption spectrum, the top five were Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, in that order.

The U.S. ranked 16th, tied with Austria. Canada was 9th, and Mexico was 95th.

Reader Reality Check

Are any of the worst-ranked countries on your bucket list?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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