Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

10 of The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

It seems corruption is rampant worldwide now-a-days, from back-room corporate and political deals in all parties in US government to outright bribery-required attitudes in many emerging (some might call them third world) countries. While any time there is power and money involved there will be corruption also involved, there are some places in the world that are much worse than others.

Here’s our list of some of the top offenders when it comes to corruption.

Let us know in the comments if you think we missed or unjustly accused a country.



Turkmenistan is a Central Asian state that used to be part of the Soviet Union up until 1991. It was one of the last states to secede. The first president of this new state was Saparmurat Niyazov, and although this figure called himself a promoter of Islam and Turkmen culture, he was more famous for being a dictator who exerted his cult of personality.

Most of this country’s terrain is desert, though it is wealthy in resources. The oil-rich land of Turkmenistan has the ability to bring the country wealth, but the majority of the population lives in poverty.

Turkmenistan is a politically corrupt nation, largely due to the government being controlled by one party. The current leader of this country, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, is known as being very vain, also promoting his own cult of personality. Since his rule started in 2006, he has named a mosque after himself, and made sure that bookstores were stocked with his own work.

Turkmenistan remains underdeveloped, partially because of the lack of direct foreign investment from other nations. The government also has a monopoly over the media. This country does not allow political gatherings, unless they are sanctioned by the government.

Turkmenistan is also notorious for being a racist country. There are many regulations against the citizens being allowed to travel abroad. Institutions often practice discrimination against non-Turkmen minorities; universities are often told to reject applicants who do not have Turkmen family names.

Photo By peretzp



The Central African country of Chad is consistently in the top-ten list for most corrupt nations. In addition to being one of the world’s poorest countries, it is considered incredibly unstable, as rebel forces often attempt to overthrow the government; Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, has faced two attempted coups in 2006 and 2008. Part of the reason for this unrest is that he removed the two-term limit on presidency from the constitution to start his third term in 2006, which caused uproar from his opponents. These are some of the reasons why Chad has earned its nickname, the “Dead Heart of Africa.”

Most citizens of Chad are extremely poor, living as subsistence herders and farmers, in which people can only tend to what can feed their families. Access to water is a common problem in this country. Ever since Chad’s civil war in 1987, the development of a railroad infrastructure has been hindered. The communications system is at a bare minimum; there are only about 14,000 fixed telephone lines for the entire country. The print media is heavily censored by the government, and most of the people there cannot read anyway. Most of Chad’s roads cannot be used for several months throughout the year. Parents are often negligent to send their children to school.

Another major problem is that Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad to escape genocide in their homeland. This escape, however, did not solve their problems. The refugee camps are hardly supplied with food, and people often suffer from diseases. There are also an estimated 170,000 internally displaced persons living in Chad.

Photo by afcone



Sudan is the largest country in Africa, and its land has a wide geographical diversity. Located in the northeastern section of this continent, the culture of Sudan has an extensive history that goes back to ancient times. It is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Crisis.

However, basically all of the regions of Sudan face problems, corruption being one of them. In addition to being an impoverished nation with low human development, there have been episodes of civil warfare since its independence in 1956. In this year, Sudan broke association and rule with Egypt, but this only led to further strife. There have been conflicts with the north and south that have killed 1.5 million people, as well as driving many from their homes.

Southern Sudan has seceded as an autonomous region in July 2011. Though it is set to be a separate state, this region still remains one of the poorest places on earth. There are high levels of corruption in Southern Sudan, causing a major block to any progress. Because of the many violent episodes, the regional infrastructure has been destroyed, and due to its lack of money, a new system will be very hard to rebuild.
In the Darfur region of Western Sudan, the pro-Arab militias implemented an ethnic-cleansing regime that killed off many non-Arabs. Many consider this episode to be genocide.

Sudan also has poor relations with its neighboring country, Chad. Both of these countries accuse the other of its citizens crossing into their borders and causing problems.

Photo by: Mr T in DC

Equatorial Guinea


Though the country of Equatorial Guinea is one of the most prosperous countries in the African continent, it is nonetheless very corrupt. This country is a former Spanish colony, and is a tropical place. It is a very small country in terms of size and population, and it is located in Western Africa. Its population is mostly Bantu, the biggest tribe being the Fang.

Equatorial Guinea has been through an unfortunate history since the 20th century. They became an independent nation from Spain in 1968. Their first president, Francisco Macias Nguema converted Equatorial Guinea into a single-party state in 1970, which was followed by a reign of terror that killed thousands of people and displaced even more. This dictator was overthrown in 1979, and President Teodoro Obiang has ruled ever since. Even though this country lists itself as a constitutional democracy, their political elections are almost always seen as rigged, and there have been over 10 attempts to overthrow the government.

Today, Equatorial Guinea makes a great deal of money from oil wealth, but this money is mainly distributed to people in the government and elite class. About 70% of the population is living under $2 a day, and the development of living standards has been very slow. This country also has one of the worst human rights’ histories in the world. According to the UN, less than 50% of people in Equatorial Guinea can access clean water. Its press is also heavily regulated and censored.

Photo by US Army Africa



Centuries ago, the land of Uzbekistan was known as a trade and cultural center positioned along the Silk Road. This region was a bustling geographical crossroads between Europe and Asia, often admired for its architecture.

After being ruled for over 100 years by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became a sovereign nation in 1991. Today, Uzbekistan is the most populated country in Central Asia, and is rich in resources like cotton, gold and oil.

Despite its history, the country of Uzbekistan is currently full of complications, politically and socially. For many years, corruption has been a growing issue in this country that only keeps getting worse. Economic development is under strict control by Uzbekistan’s government, as they do not allow the growth of an independent private sector. Even though the population suffers from poverty, officials continue to restrict foreign investment and imports. The key exports of this resource-rich country only reap benefits for the ruling elite, so the rest of the population does not prosper from any of this exclusive wealth.

Though Uzbekistan has a constitution, many human rights organizations denounce this country as being authoritarian, having a government that takes extreme measures against human rights. One example of this is how the Tajik population is not allowed to speak their own language, and their literary works are often destroyed. The Uzbek government is also known for implementing torture, and not allowing any legal political opposition. While the constitution does allow press freedom, in actuality, the government maintains strict measures of censorship.

Photo by peretzp



Although former leader Saddam Hussein is out of power, and there have been foreign troops in this country since 2003, very many of Iraq’s significant problems remain unresolved. In the past, Iraq was home to some of the world’s earliest civilizations, like Ancient Mesopotamia. Iraq was also the center for the Islamic Empire during the early Middle Ages.

The country of Iraq was also ruled by the Ottoman Empire, until it fell under British control after World War I. In 1932, when Iraq gained independence, it was still governed by an English-sponsored monarchy. This system was overthrown by the Iraqi army in 1958, creating the Republic of Iraq. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath party took the lead of Iraqi government in 1968.

Along with its complicated political history, the past few decades have been plagued with violent conflict. There was a war between Iraq and Iran from 1988-89, followed by the Gulf War in 1991. The invasion by US troops in 2003 practically destroyed the economy of Iraq, and insurgency is still a factor of everyday life. Violence was at a peak in 2007, but has been in decline since then. Nevertheless, people in Iraq are far from safe; kidnappings, bomb assaults, shootings and robberies are very common in its cities.

The government of Iraq is still very unstable, and the minority groups like Kurds, Assyrians, Roma and Iraqi Turkmen are still treated below Iraqi Arabs. In 2009, the ministry of trade was accused of buying food unfit for human consumption, and then selling this food to traders instead of giving it away, making millions of dollars in revenue. Though there is a war on insurgency, the war of corruption is perceived as an equally detrimental problem.

Photo by Al Jazeera English



Afghanistan is located in Central Asia, being a landlocked mountainous country that has been inhabited for thousands of years. Many different types of people have lived in Afghanistan throughout the ages, being in a geographical and social location between the Middle East and Central Asia. Various empires had presence here, including the Mughals and Timurids. Afghanistan even acted as a buffer zone between the Russian and British Empires in the late 1800s.

Though rich in history, life in Afghanistan has taken a turn for the worse. War has been occurring continuously ever since the 1970s. This era has included events like the Soviet Invasion, the Taliban establishing itself with military assistance from Pakistan, and then the invasion by the United States. After the the troops overthrew the Taliban’s government, millions of expatriate Afghanis have returned to their home country. Though they bring skills back from abroad, the society still suffers from undergoing 30 years of war. While there have been foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban still exists there, causing various violent offensives.

In addition to violence and poverty, corruption is seen as a huge problem to overcome in Afghanistan. According to a UNODC survey, 59% of people in Afghanistan perceive dishonesty as a bigger problem than insecurity or unemployment. Bribery is a huge issue, as well as people making money from opium. However, these two factors are considered to be the two highest sources of income in the country. While this does generate money for some, Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries on earth.

Photo by isafmedia



Somalia is located in The Horn of Africa, a region in the easternmost part of this continent. In ancient times, this country was a significant grounds for commerce. During the late nineteenth century through mid-twentieth century, Great Britain and Italy began colonizing parts of Somalia, leading to conflict with local government. This lasted until 1960, when the Somali Republic gained independence and unity.

Unity, however, is not a term that can be used to describe current-day Somalia. One can barely even call it a country, as there is no central government that controls its entirety.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since 1991. In addition to no central control, radical militant groups are a huge problem in this country, and the issue of Islamic insurgency does not seem like it will go away any time soon.

In such a lawless country, many business warlords have taken advantage of the situation by skipping taxes, selling food and drugs that are expired, and commercializing public-sector parts of the economy for their own profit. The government powers that do exist are considered extremely ineffectual, and do not provide sufficient food or education resources. In addition to the government having no reliable source of income, Somalia’s citizens face kidnapping, murder, roadblocks and many other means of arbitrary violence. Along with to all of these inland problems, water off of Somalia’s coast is plagued with pirates, so it is not a safe place to visit.

There are many reasons why the corrupt nation of Somalia has earned the title of a “failed state.”

Photo by wikipedia



Burma (Myanmar) is a Southeast Asian country that was a home to a handful of historic Asian civilizations, such as the Pyu and Mon. In the 1800s, there were three Anglo-Burmese Wars that ended in Burma being dominated by British rule. In 1948, Burma became independent, but that only started a long-running civil war between the country’s different ethnic groups.

Since 1962, the country of Burma had been under military rule. Even when the government was overthrown, it only resulted in newly-instated military rule regimes that suppressed dissent. The military leaders of Burma were notorious for performing human rights abuses, in which they forcibly moved Burmese citizens, and made adults and children work against their will. The key industries of this country were run by the military, and the black market still thrives. Some of the armed forces were even linked to heroin trafficking.

Burma is also one of the poorest countries in Asia. Even worse, it holds the World Health Organization’s record for having the worst health care on earth.

In 2010, there was a general election in Burma, finally doing away with the military junta; it was officially dissolved in March 2011. Even through the generations of human rights violations, many hope that this will brighten the future of this country. Some people have tried to encourage tourists to visit Burma and stimulate its economy, but fewer than 750,000 people visit this country each year.

Photo by Franz Patzig



Burundi is a small, landlocked country of Eastern Africa. It has had an unfortunate history of corruption and violence that has lasted up until today. Burundi used to be a part of German East Africa, then became a UN trust territory in 1923. This country gained independence in 1963, but this was only followed by years of coups and brutal rebellions.

Burundi has had ongoing problems of ethnic tensions and fights. The population consists mainly of the Hutu (about 85%), and the Tutsi (about 14%), which was an identity enforced by the Belgians in 1933. Though these two separate groups are a reality for the inhabitants of Burundi, they are culturally and historically very similar people.

Since 1994, there had been a few periods of ethnic clashes that led to a civil war. This warfare lasted over a decade and claimed over 300,000 lives. Many transitions of leaders occurred during this period, and the war only came to an actual cease-fire in 2008.

Apart from tumultuous history, Burundi still continues to face many corruption problems in the government and society. One factor of Burundi’s problems is its reputation for having extremely corrupt police forces. The government leaders in this country are often guilty of accepting bribes and embezzling money. Non-nationals who want to donate money to Burundi are often hesitant, as they believe the money will just be embezzled.

In 2009, Ernest Manirumva, the country’s head anti-corruption campaigner, was abducted from this office, taken to his house, and stabbed to death. In addition to large measures of corruption, Burundi’s citizens suffer from problems like lack of education, poverty and high rates of HIV/AIDS.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


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