Lands of the Unfree
A quarter of countries are not free. Where are they located?
March 31, 2018
1. In 2017, 49 of 195 countries – or 25% – were ranked as “not free,” according to Freedom House.
2. Back in 1990, 50 countries ranked as not free (30% of the global total).
3. Freedom House tracks the expansion of democracy and political rights globally.
4. The organization’s assessment includes factors such as pluralism and political participation, rule of law, individual liberties and freedom of expression.
5. The region with the highest percentage of its countries ranked not free is the Middle East / North Africa.
6. Twelve of the 18 countries in the region – or two-thirds – are non-free.
7. The next-poorest performer is the former Soviet “Eurasia” region, with 7 of 12 countries in the region in total (close to 60%).
8. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of countries considered non-free, with 19 such countries of 49 in the region in total. However, on a proportional basis, that is just below 40%.
9. The Asia-Pacific region, without the Middle East or former Soviet Republics, had eight non-free countries out of 39, i.e. about 20%.
10. The worst countries in the Freedom House rankings were generally active total war zones or closed-off regimes.
11. Examples include Syria, South Sudan and Somalia for the former or North Korea, Eritrea and Uzbekistan for the latter.
12. Many countries in the non-free category have an average per capita income of less than $1,000 annually.
13. Saudi Arabia, tied for the fifth-lowest performer overall, is the country with the highest per capita income in this category ($23,550).
Sources: Freedom House, The Globalist Research Center