Freedom around the world: The most (and least) free and tolerant countries

Think Australia's a nanny state without enough personal freedom? Then you might be surprised to learn we're freer than the vast majority of other countries around the world.

After a year in which "post-truth" became part of the common lexicon (so much so that it was was named the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year), it's a good time to have a look at how people's freedoms are holding up throughout the world.

This heatmap sorts the world's countries according to how much "personal freedom" their citizens enjoy. The data comes from The Legatum Prosperity Index, which ranks countries according to a range of criteria. The personal freedom ranking is based on access to legal rights; freedom of speech and religion; and social tolerance, notably towards immigrants and ethnic minorities.

Luxembourg, a founding member of the European Union and seat of the European Court of Justice, tops the liberty charts. It is one of Europe's smallest sovereign states and has a population of a little over half a million.

See: Luxembourg - home of Europe's overlooked party city

In second place is Canada, whose young Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is the envy of disgruntled progressives in the UK and US; the country's immigration website famously crashed after Donald Trump's victory in the US elections on November 9 this year.

Other European entries in the top 10 include Iceland, The Netherlands, Finland and Belgium.

New Zealand, which comes third in the personal freedom ranking, tops Legatum's overall prosperity league table for 2016, which also takes in factors such as education and business environment.

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Australia is behind our Kiwi neighbours in 12th spot, in the middle of the Scandinavia countries - behind Norway, but ahead of Sweden and Denmark. Australia comes sixth in the overall rankings.

Ireland beats the UK to a top 10 spot, coming in fifth for personal liberty, but Britain fares pretty well at 15th.

Uruguay, which has a reputation for liberal legislation, including legalised cannabis - is the only South American country to make the top 20.

"The Land of the Free", the United States only managed to come in at number 25 in the ranking.

The 20 most tolerant countries

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand 
  4. Iceland 
  5. Ireland
  6. Uruguay
  7. Netherlands
  8. Finland 
  9. Belgium
  10. Portugal 
  11. Norway
  12. Australia 
  13. Denmark
  14. Sweden 
  15. United Kingdom 
  16. Spain 
  17. Malta
  18. Switzerland 
  19. Costa Rica
  20. Slovenia 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, conflict-ravaged Afghanistan scores lowest for personal liberty. The economy and infrastructure of the country have been hard hit by decades of instability, and the government set up following the US-led invasion of 2001 has struggled to maintain control across the country, with the Taliban stepping up attacks in the past two years.

Its neighbour Iran comes in the bottom five. Mauritania in northern Africa, as well as Egypt and Sudan, also fare very badly for personal liberty.

Russia, run by domestically popular but internationally controversial Putin, is also in the bottom 10 for rights and tolerance, coming behind Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others. 

The 20 least tolerant countries

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Sudan 
  3. Yemen 
  4. Egypt
  5. Iran 
  6. Libya
  7. Mauritania
  8. The Central African Republic 
  9. Russia
  10. Democratic Republic of Congo 
  11. Iraq
  12. China 
  13. Chad 
  14. Algeria 
  15. Swaziland 
  16. Belarus 
  17. Saudi Arabia 
  18. Pakistan 
  19. Comoros
  20. Tajikistan

The top and bottom countries have not changed a great deal since 2015, but if tectonic plates of global politics continue to shift, the map may look different in the next few years.

The Telegraph, London

See also: Nanny state: Why Australia is the land of the idiot

See also: Banned: How the fun police are ruining Australia

 

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