Even in the safest and most peaceful countries, some level of corruption seems to exist in governments all over the world. The motivation behind corruption is often money or power, and it can have serious effects on the well-being of a country and its people.
In this post, we’ll look at the 20 most corrupt countries in the world. The data we’re using is based on this Statista report that quantifies the level of perceived corruption in different countries, known as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). A lower CPI score means a higher level of corruption; a score of 100 would indicate no perceived corruption.
|Country||Corruption Perception Index|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||20|
What is the most corrupt country in the world?
Somalia is perceived to be the most corrupt country in the world, according to data from the 2022 CPI. The country had a CPI score of 12, and it was closely followed by South Sudan and Syria, both of which earned a score of 13.
How is the CPI calculated?
The index is calculated using expert assessors and surveys. Some of the points considered when scoring countries are the bribery of public officials, kickbacks, embezzlement of state funds, and the efficacy of anti-corruption measures.
It’s important to note that CPI scores are not directly representative of actual corruption in a country but are used for describing the perceived levels of corruption.
Most Corrupt Countries 2022
Read on to learn what corruption looks like in these countries and why it has been able to grow. We’ll also learn about the most corrupt country in the world.
CPI score: 23
Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucasus region at the border between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. A former member of the Soviet Union, the modern Republic of Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991 and has been plagued with corruption in recent history.
One of the biggest corruption scandals in modern Azerbaijan was the uncovering of the “Azerbaijani Laundromat” operation in 2017 by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The operation involved the laundering of billions of dollars through shell companies for the purpose of paying bribes and purchasing luxury goods for wealthy politicians, among other uses.
CPI score: 22
Sudan is located in Northeast Africa and is the 16th largest country in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In fact, all sectors and branches of government are affected by corruption according to the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre.
Sudan has faced challenges combating corruption for many years, but one of the more recent events involved former President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019. He has been accused of illegally acquiring real estate and millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia in addition to crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.
CPI score: 22
In addition to being one of the poorest countries in Africa, Eritrea has also struggled with persistent corruption in recent history. Among the country’s corruption woes are low levels of transparency and accountability in government institutions.
This 2020 report on human rights practices in the country listed bribery and corruption among the judicial and executive branches as ongoing problems. There are laws in Eritrea that provide penalties to officials involved in corruption, but they haven’t been implemented effectively.
Corruption in the police force is another issue in Eritrea. The above report found that police officers occasionally facilitated the release of prisoners who were friends or family members.
17. Guinea Bissau
CPI score: 21
Guinea-Bissau is a country located in West Africa that gained independence in 1973 after becoming a Portuguese colony in the 19th century. Since independence, the country has struggled with various forms of corruption and only president, José Mário Vaz, has so far managed to serve a full five-year term. There have been ten coups since Eritrea gained independence.
Efforts to curb corruption are continually taking place, even if they have been largely unsuccessful. The mayor of Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, was suspended in 2022 for alleged corruption, and President Ebalo dissolved the country’s parliament citing rampant corruption.
CPI score: 21
The Republic of the Congo is located in West Africa between Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. President Sassou Nguesso has served presidential terms from 1979 until 1992 and from 2002 until the present. He controls much of the state, and all government institutions are susceptible to interference.
According to the country’s penal code, bribery, extortion, and abuse of office in the public sector are illegal, but enforcement is poor. Vast amounts of money from the state-owned oil company, at which the president’s son holds a central position, have allegedly been embezzled by senior government officials.
15. Democratic Republic of the Congo
CPI score: 20
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is located in Central Africa and is the second-largest country on the continent. Corruption is a long-standing issue in the country that is particularly troublesome in the natural resource industry, with bribery, nepotism, and embezzlement occurring without consequence.
In a recent corruption scandal, Swiss-based mining company Glencore admitted to bribing officials in several African countries, including the DRC. The mining company agreed to pay a fine of $180m to the DRC.
The creation of a new anti-corruption office in the DRC was authorized in 2015, but it hasn’t proved very successful in reducing corruption in the country.
CPI score: 19
The landlocked, Central Asian country of Turkmenistan is known for its large natural gas reserves, its Akhal-Teke horses, and traditional carpet weaving. It’s also known for pervasive corruption.
In 2016, amidst the onset of a food crisis in the country, the president’s nephew is thought to have benefited financially from a suspicious contract with a food import company that he controlled.
Not only does corruption happen at the higher levels of Turkmenistan’s government, but it is present in daily life for most people in the country. Access to basic necessities like health care and education often requires bribes, according to this
CPI score: 19
Nicaragua is located in Central America and is rated as the most corrupt country in Latin America, a region that struggles with corruption and has an average CPI score of 43. Various forms of corruption, including cronyism, bribes, and human rights abuses, are considered to have increased following President Ortega’s election in 2006.
The president’s wife, Rosario Murillo, also holds a great deal of political power, granting the duo dynastic control of the country. The Ortega-Murillo regime is known for repressing political opponents and journalists with imprisonment.
CPI score: 19
Where Comoros is located may not be common knowledge, but the volcanic archipelago is known for its scenic beauty, its status as a Sunni Muslim nation, and the fragrant flora that have earned it the name, “the Perfume Islands.”
Corruption in Comoros is linked to bribery, nepotism, and drug trafficking. The police force is particularly susceptible to corruption, regularly accepting bribes. Corruption has also led to the unfair execution of the judicial system and has allowed drug traffic to flourish in the country. These realities have stalled foreign investment in Comoros.
CPI score: 19
Chad is a country with impressive ethnic diversity. It’s been referred to as the “Babel Tower of the World” for the hundreds of ethnic groups and languages represented in the country. The country also suffers from corruption characterized by bribery, cronyism, and nepotism.
Among several effects of corruption in Chad, access to public services is hindered for many due to the common practice of bribery in exchange for access to basic services or goods.
As one of the poorest countries in the world, Chad lacks the resources to combat corruption effectively. Anti-corruption legislation has been passed in the country, but it is rarely enforced except to punish political opponents.
CPI score: 17
Known for its vast oil reserves and ancient capital Tripoli, Libya is another African country that has struggled with corruption for many years. One of the major drivers of corruption in the country is wealth derived from its oil reserves, which is connected to embezzlement, bribes, and kickbacks.
Corruption became significantly worse in Libya during Muammar Gaddafi’s time in power, when billions of dollars were exchanged in illegal deals in the energy sector. Corruption has continued to be prevalent in the country after the end of Gaddafi’s reign, and enforcement efforts have proven mostly ineffective.
9. North Korea
CPI score: 17
Access to up-to-date information on North Korea is difficult because the country is so politically secluded, but first-hand accounts from escapees shed some light on the situation within its borders.
North Korea’s state-run public distribution system failed and collapsed around 1994. This has forced the country’s people to work and engage in informal markets where bribery is necessary for obtaining basic goods like food.
Large amounts of North Korea’s resources are allocated to maintaining its military forces, which deprives the general population. A significant portion of the population is thought to be subject to food scarcity.
CPI score: 17
Corruption in Haiti exists at the highest levels of government and in everyday life. In recent history, the country has been subjected to a number of natural disasters, such as cholera outbreaks and major earthquakes, which have only exacerbated issues caused by widespread gang activity and the presidential assassination of 2021.
Politicians have historically used gangs to intimidate opponents and provide protection, and these gangs have only attained more power in recent years. There are severe food shortages in Haiti, and drug trafficking activity has increased. Canada has imposed sanctions on wealthy business people in Haiti for engaging in corruption and gang activity.
7. Equatorial Guinea
CPI score: 17
Equatorial Guinea is located in West Africa and is the only country on the continent where Spanish is one of its official languages. The country is also known for its vast oil reserves.
Wealth obtained from Equatorial Guinea’s oil trade has been one of the primary drivers of corruption in the country, with officials engaging in embezzlement and bribery. These issues are made worse by low levels of government transparency and accountability combined with limited journalistic freedom.
The son of Equatorial Guinea’s President, Ruslan Obiang Nsue, was arrested in 2023 for allegedly selling an aircraft belonging to the country’s national airline.
CPI score: 17
A small Central African nation, Burundi is densely populated and sits in the Great Rift Valley near many of Africa’s largest lakes. It is tied with Libya, North Korea, Haiti, and Equatorial Guinea with its CPI score of 17, placing it in the top ten most corrupt countries in the world.
Corruption in Burundi exists at all levels of the country’s political and economic systems. Bribery, nepotism, and embezzlement are all common practices and have negative impacts on the country’s economic growth and access to public services.
There are anti-corruption laws in place in Burundi, but enforcement is lacking and often politically motivated.
CPI score: 16
With a CPI score of 16, Yemen is among the five most corrupt countries in the world. Yemen is located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula and has been subjected to political stability and war since 2014. The situation in the country was even declared the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Political instability in Yemen has weakened government institutions and the country’s ability to maintain rule of law. This creates opportunities for activities like bribery, nepotism, and embezzlement to go unchecked.
In 2019, UN officials accused the Houthi group of money laundering, using $1.8 billion in state revenue to fund its war effort.
CPI score: 14
Widespread poverty is one of the most significant struggles faced by Venezuelans, and one of the main causes is corruption. Funds intended to relieve food shortages in the country, for example, only brought in 25% of the food expected, and only 14% of it was distributed to those in need.
In another instance of corruption, powdered milk was illegally smuggled into Colombia by a state-owned company despite an extreme domestic shortage of powdered milk at the time.
Much of the blame for Venezuela’s corruption problem has been placed on Nicolás Maduro, the country’s president since 2013.
CPI score: 13
Of Syria’s many struggles, its ongoing civil war that began in 2011 is at the center. A great portion of the country’s clean drinking water sources has been damaged by war, which has led to cholera outbreaks in the country. Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Syria have been accused of corruption in the form of bribery and misappropriation of funds.
Bribery in Syria is one of the country’s most pervasive forms of corruption. Although Syrian laws exist which punish all parties involved in a bribe, there have been no effective government efforts to stop the practice.
2. South Sudan
CPI score: 13
South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, gaining independence in 2011. It’s also the second-most corrupt country in the world. Since its independence, the economic development of South Sudan has been hindered by rampant corruption in the form of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, and bribery.
An investigation by The Sentry showed that top officials in the country had deprived vulnerable communities of millions of dollars worth of food and medicine. President Salva Kiir and his family allegedly benefitted from these funds.
Thriving with a lack of transparency and weak enforcement policies, corruption has eroded public trust, fuelled social unrest, and impeded progress in South Sudan.
CPI score: 12
According to global CPI scores, Somalia is the most corrupt country in the world. It’s located in the Horn of Africa on the continent’s east coast and is infamous for its pirates and civil wars.
Corruption in Somalia exists in both public and private sectors, with government officials and business people engaging in bribery, nepotism, embezzlement, and misappropriation of funds. The lack of a well-functioning central government makes it easy for corruption to flourish, as there are no effective means of combating it.
The police force and judicial system in Somalia are essentially ineffective because of corruption, and businesses are forced to either arm themselves or cooperate with violent groups. Corruption has been a problem in Somalia for decades and has kept the country from making significant economic and social progress.
More About Corruption
Is corruption a common problem in other parts of the world as well, or is it primarily concentrated in certain regions?
Corruption exists in all inhabited regions of the world to varying degrees. The region most represented on this list is Africa, and the Middle East and Latin America are also represented.
What role do multinational corporations and international organizations play in either promoting or combating corruption?
Multinational corporations can promote corruption in certain countries by engaging in activities like bribery, kickbacks, and embezzlement in order to gain a competitive advantage in foreign markets.
These corporations can also combat corruption by having strong internal anti-corruption policies and by promoting transparency and integrity.
Are there any cultural or historical factors that contribute to corruption?
Cultural and historical factors can indeed contribute to corruption. In some cultures, giving gifts in exchange for special treatment is considered acceptable. Historical factors such as colonialism or a history of political instability can lead to an environment in which corruption spreads more easily.