Berlin-based think tank Transparency International has released the findings of its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which assesses the public sectors of 180 nations and territories.
Countries are ranked on a scale from 0 to 100 — the lower the score, the more crooked a place is deemed to be by the researchers. Using surveys and assessments from experts, CPI gauged each nation's relative propensity for bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain, nepotism in the civil service, and state capture.
Sources also look at countries' existing mechanisms for preventing fraudulent activity within government, such as the effective prosecution of corrupt officials. Excessive bureaucratic burdens hurt a nation's score, while the existence of laws on financial disclosure, conflict of interest prevention and public information help in the rankings.
The United States was noted in the study as a "country to watch," dropping four points from 2017 to a score of 71 and ranking as the 22nd least corrupt nation. Yahoo Finance reported that this was due to "rising political tensions and uncertainty."
Here are the 10 most (and 10 least) corrupt countries on the list:
The World's Most Corrupt Countries
#178. South Sudan (tie)
STEFANIE GLINSKI/AFP/Getty Images
South Sudan joins Syria in its ranking with 13 points on the board. It is the world's newest country, after declaring independence from Sudan in 2011. But infighting has caused an estimated 383,000 deaths in the country's civil war. Despite a peace deal last year, 19,000 children are believed to still be held in captivity, working for different militias involved.