Failed States

The Worst of the Worst

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, see which countries fared worst across 12 indicators.


For what life in a failed state looks like, click here.

Where are the 25 most failed states located?

Latin America: 1 country

Asia: 2 countries

Central Asia/Middle East: 5 countries

Africa: 17 countries


Factionalized Elites:

Sudan, Ivory Coast

The post-election violence following Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power in 2010 left thousands dead.

Extrenal Intervention:

Afghanistan, Ivory Coast

Foreign troops have been deployed in Afghanistan for 20 of the past 33 years.

Demographic Pressures:

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC ranks last on the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2011 Global Hunger Index, with about 70 percent of its population lacking access to adequate food and 25 percent of children suffering from malnourishment.

Brain Drain: 


Of the 1,200 doctors trained in Zimbabwe between 1990 and 2001, only 360 were still on the country by 2006.

Group Grievance:


Until South Sudan became a country in July 2011, Sudan was embroiled in civil war for 39 of the 55 years since it gained independence in 1956.



Although Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, up to 40 percent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

Guess which country came out worst on half of the 12 indicators?


Poverty and Economic Decline:

Nearly 30,000 children under the age of 5 were estimated to have died in a 90-day period during the height of Somalia’s famine last summer.


Sixteen percent of Somalia’s population, about 1.5 million people, was internally displaced in 2011, the largest percentage of any country.

Public Services:

In 2012, just 7 percent of Somalia’s rural population had adequate access to improved water sources such as household connections, public standpipes, and protected wells or springs

Legitimacy of the State:

Transparency International ranked Somalia the world’s most corrupt country in 2011.

Human Rights:

There is no law against spousal rape in Somalia, and an estimated 98 percent of girls undergo genital mutilation.

Security Forces:

The U.S. State Department’s 2011 human rights report describes the Somali police as “generally ineffective,” as well as “underpaid and corrupt.”

Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images

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