Corruption around the world: What are the best countries to live in ?

  • Denmark
Published on 2017-01-30 at 14:00 by Veedushi
If you are looking for the ideal country to move to, there are many factors you should consider, and one thing to remember: There's no perfect land. At the end of the day, you will have to be ready to give up some things in order to get others. But what are your priorities when choosing the right destination? Are you interested in a country that has career prospects, is family-friendly, has rich social life, is secure, or equally distributes wealth and power?

A country's corruption level has a lot to say about the well-being of its people, and according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 by Transparency International, there's always space for improvement – even in countries such as Denmark, New Zealand, and Finland, which rank as the top three least corrupt places on earth.

The least corrupt countries in the world

Denmark along with New Zealand are the least corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International's yearly Corruption Perceptions Index released on January 2017, with an overall score of 90. Several European countries (Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom) have made it into the top ten, boosting Europe's reputation as a fair and secure continent to live in. Moving away from Europe, Singapore ranks 7th and Canada 9th with an overall score of 82 this year compared to 83 in 2015 and 84 back in 2012.

Corruption perceptions around the world

No country can be 100% free from corruption – two thirds of all 176 countries and territories fall below the midpoint of the corruption scale with zero being highly corrupt and 100 very clean. The average score is 43 points, representing mostly the corruption that occurs within countries' public sector.


The 2016 ranking highlights the urgency for committed action, as more countries are falling into corruption, especially in Asia. Cambodia, has dropped down to 21 points, a phenomenon that's attributed to violation of political rights, bribing, and conflict. Thailand's score of 35 is possibly the result of the political turmoil during the past year and the introduction of a new constitution, which seemingly led to the deterioration of rights, repression, and lack of independence.

China remains on the watch list with a poor score of 40 out of 100 despite a slight increase of 3 points thanks to its anti-corruption efforts in the public sector during the past year. With a score of 40 as well, India once again brings up the government's inability to deal with corruption, while large scale scandals are being decried. Corruption perception in India is linked to inequality, poverty and illiteracy.

Middle East

While the United Arab Emirates perform fairly well ranking 24th among the 176 countries, other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have dropped down significantly with a score of 45 and 61 respectively. In fact, 90% of the Middle Eastern countries have known a sharp decline in 2016 compared to previous years partly due to oppression of public freedoms, violation of human rights in some cases, as well as ruling families, which continue to hold the economic and political powers. Transparency International recommends that these countries set up effective transparent systems and secure the independence of the judiciary and auditing bodies.


Europe has known no drastic changes in the 2016 index, with Ukraine showing a slight improvement. It is also worth to note that Ukraine recently launched an e-declaration system that allows its citizens to see the assets of their president, politicians and government officials. Perception of corruption still remains high in the Western Balkans due to weak law enforcement and unstable political systems. However, the European Union countries appear to be cleaner with strong anti-corruption attitude.

South America

While North America performs fairly well (USA comes 18th on the list with 74 points), South American countries such as Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay rank below the global average. The Panama Papers scandal shed much light on the region, followed by the Odebrecht settlement in Brazil in December 2016. Venezuela, the lowest scoring country in the region, was shook by mass protests against the government. Mexico also lost 5 points, now ranking 123rd in spite of a series of reforms.


A small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius performs quite well with an overall score of 54, ranking 50th. At the same time, corruption trends were highlighted throughout the rest of Africa during elections. Countries like Ghana dropped down significantly with an overall score of 43 compared to 47 in 2015 while South Africa ranks 46th along with Senegal. On the other hand, countries like Sao Tome and Principe and Cape Verde have greatly improved by holding democratic elections last year.

Leave us a comment: What are your views about the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016? How clean is the country you currently live in? How does it compare to your home country?