Foreign Policy magazine has released its annual ranking of the world’s least-stable countries, now known as the Fragile State Index.
The rankings are based on 12 metrics, including access to public services, the prevalence of refugees and internally displaced persons, human rights conditions, and the legitimacy of the state.
Scandinavian countries round out the bottom of the ranking. Surprisingly, Syria — which has suffered four years of a brutal civil war that’s displaced 12 million people — isn’t the most fragile state in the world, according to the survey.
Here are the countries Foreign Policy says are the most fragile in the world.
25. LIBYA: The north-African country has continued to splinter over the past year as two rival governments have fought for control. ISIS has also gained a foothold amidst the country's chaos and its oil exports are down to a fraction of what they were in 2013. A lack of state legitimacy, security, and human rights has caused Libya to drop 16 places from 2013.
24. ERITREA: A small country in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea improved slightly in the index over the past year. But Eritrea still suffers under some of the world's strictest authoritarian rule and has a terrible human rights record. The country is also the subject of several UN Security Council resolutions imposing military and economic sanctions in response to the government's support of armed groups throughout the region.
23. UGANDA: Uganda faces many of the same challenges as the previous year, with factionalized elites, demographic pressures, and group grievances contributing to the country's low score. Uganda also faces a number of rebel movements, the infamous being the Joseph Kony-led Lord's Resistance Army.
21. KENYA (tie): Kenya has improved over the past year, although it still faces many of the same challenges. Demographic pressures and ethnic grievances are the leading cause of instability in the country. Kenya hosts over 350,000 Somali refugees along with tens of thousands of others from South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda. Terrorism is becoming a mounting concern within Kenya as well, as the country has been the target of attacks from Somalia-based al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated group.
21. LIBERIA (tie): A small country along Africa's western coast, Liberia became more fragile over the past year as the country was the epicentre of the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The country still struggles with a huge refugee and displacement problem owing to 14 years of brutal civil war that ended in 2003.
20. ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia has improved slightly over the past year, according to the index's metrics. But the country still faces extreme demographic pressures. Sixty-four per cent of its population is under the age of 25 and the country has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
19. NIGER: Demographic pressures and a lack of social services are the main cause for Niger's fragility. Over 68% of the population is under 25-years-old and the country has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the world. Niger also faces prolonged instability from conflicts spilling over the border from Libya, Mali, and Nigeria.
18. BURUNDI: Burundi fell three positions over the past year. Demographic pressures and displacement are the main causes of instability, with over 3% of the county's population a refugee, internally displaced person, or person of concern. Nearly 30% of children under the age of 5 are underweight, 19% of children aged 5 to 14 engage in child labour, and the country has the sixth-worst maternal mortality rate in the world. Additionally, anti-government protests in April after the president attempted to circumvent constitutional term limits led to a failed military coup and a violent crackdown throughout the country.
17. GUINEA-BISSAU: This small West African nation strains under a factionalized elite and a lack of legitimacy in its political institutions. The county's constitution was suspended following a military coup in 2012 and it is heavily reliant on foreign aid. Sixty-nine per cent of its population lives in poverty, life expectancy is only 54 years, and it has the fifth-highest infant mortality rate in the world. Guinea-Bissau is also a main hub for global cocaine trafficking, raising fears of drug-fuelled violence in an already destabilized country.
16. ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe has improved by five positions over the course of the year, although it still struggles from a lack of state legitimacy, a highly despotic government, a crumbling economy, and a factionalized elite. Dictator Robert Mugabe has been the country's only ruler since majority rule began in 1980. Per-capita GDP is only $600 per year.
15. IVORY COAST: Since 1999, this West African nation has experienced two civil wars and multiple political crises. There are thousands of UN peacekeepers and French soldiers stationed in the country, and the nation receives near-bottom scores on the index for external intervention, factionalized elites, and group grievances.
14. NIGERIA: Nigeria suffers from uneven development of its economy between the largely Christian south and its Muslim-majority north. The country is locked in a brutal conflict with the ISIS-allied terrorist group Boko Haram which has succeeded in overrunning multiple provincial cities in the country's north. More than 62% of Nigeria's population lives in extreme poverty. But it's far from a universally negative picture: Nigeria managed a peaceful and contested democratic election that saw the challenger win against the incumbent. And it surpassed South Africa as Africa's largest economy in early 2014.
13. PAKISTAN: Pakistan has improved by three places over the past year. The country still faces a host of challenges including almost 1 million internally displaced persons, almost 3 million refugees from Afghanistan, rampant Islamic extremism, and fraught civil-military relations -- along with an ongoing fight against the Pakistani Taliban and separatists in Baluchistan and a long-simmering border dispute with India.
12. IRAQ: Iraq has faced a dire security crisis over the past year as ISIS has continued to expand and embed itself within Sunni regions of the country. Intense sectarianism, coupled with a military patronage structure and highly dysfunctional domestic politics, has led to a critical situation for the country. Iraq has continued to face a massive refugee and internally displaced person crisis as well.
11. HAITI: Eighty per cent of Haiti's population lives below the poverty line while 57% lives in what's categorized as abject poverty. The 2010 earthquake devastated the country's infrastructure and killed as many as a quarter-million people. Recovery was slowed when Haiti was hit by two hurricanes in 2012. The country is a transit point for the cocaine trade from South America to the US and Europe, while over half of Haiti's annual governing budget comes from international sources.
10. GUINEA: Despite Guinea's natural wealth, the state has been unable to capitalise thanks to political instability and rampant corruption. A series of juntas and coups has scared off foreign investment,and the political situation remains dangerously fluid. Guinea was also one one of the countries most hard-hit by the Ebola outbreak.
9. SYRIA: Over four years into a brutal civil war, Syria has bottom scores from the index for refugees, human rights, security, and group grievances. The UN estimates that over 7.6 million people have been displaced within Syria while another 3.9 million had fled the country and become refugees. In January 2015, the UN estimated that 220,000 people had been killed in the fighting.
8. AFGHANISTAN: After nearly a decade-and-a-half of foreign intervention and US-led nation building, the Taliban still threaten Afghanistan's stability. The state's security apparatus receives a bottom score, and Afghanistan was also docked for a lack of state legitimacy and foreign intervention, as there are still thousands of US troops deployed there. Following the end of US combat operations in Afghanistan, both the Taliban and ISIS have made gains in provinces throughout the country.
7. YEMEN: Yemen is one of the poorest states in the Middle East with 45% of its population living below the poverty line. The country has a bottom score in security from the index and was also docked for a lack of state legitimacy and foreign intervention. The internationally recognised Yemeni government was forced from power by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, Al Qaeda has virtual control of the east of the country, and a Saudi-led coalition has carried out frequent airstrikes with the aim of dislodging the Houthis.
6. CHAD: At just 49.44 years, Chad has the lowest life expectancy of any country in the world. Despite a lack of infrastructure, it is burdened with over 500,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic. Chad also suffers from deep corruption, a lack of trained workers, and an over-reliance on foreign investment.
5. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Congo has seen almost constant strife and civil war following a massive influx of Rwandan and Burundian refugees in the mid-90s. Tens of thousands of people are killed due to conflict-related factors each year in the country, and the average person only makes $400 annually. Seventy-one per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Even so, the economy expanded in Congo for the 12th straight year in 2014.
4. SUDAN: Since 2007, peacekeepers from the African Union and the UN have struggled to stabilise the ongoing conflict in Darfur. As of December 2014 the UN estimates there were nearly 2.5 million internally displaced peoples in Sudan with an additional 3 million people at risk in the country. Sudan's autocratic and often-belligerent government has prosecuted brutal counter-insurgency campaigns in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Southern Khordofan, while international sanctions and the regime's isolation have brought the country to the brink of economic ruin.
3. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The CAR has bottom scores for refugees, human rights, and factionalized elites following a series of coups and ethno-religious strife. In response, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to send peacekeepers out of fear that the violence could lead to genocide. The CAR also has near-bottom scores from the index for public services, foreign intervention, and security.
2. SOMALIA: Somalia has not had a functioning nation-wide government since a civil war tore the country apart in 1991. The country has bottom scores for human rights and factionalized elites, and near-bottom scores for refugees and security. Somalia has both the third-highest infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, and total life expectancy is estimated to be only 51.58 years at birth.
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