Skip to main content

Failed States

627425_rothkopf_credit-istockphoto.jpg
627425_rothkopf_credit-istockphoto.jpg

Are All States Failing States?

Every unstable country is unstable in its own way.

ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

The Watch List

Predicting state failure isn't as hard as you think.

627453_120611_Failed_Ibish_lead_EPA00000403213073.jpg
627453_120611_Failed_Ibish_lead_EPA00000403213073.jpg

Was the Arab Spring Worth It?

The people of the Middle East have paid a steep price to overthrow their dictators.

10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart

States don't fail overnight. The seeds of of their destruction are sown deep within their political institutions.

627047_120615_worstchart.jpg
627047_120615_worstchart.jpg

How Bad Is Bad?

Although the 10 worst failed states don’t necessarily suffer from the same problems, they do share one thing in common: a miserable quality of life for most of their people. And when they’re stacked up against the United States, the meaning of “failure” is devastatingly clear.

627141_120614_Failed_Worst_EPA_03130345.jpg
627141_120614_Failed_Worst_EPA_03130345.jpg

The Worst of the Worst

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

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

States of Change

Which countries gained and declined the most in this year's Failed States Index?

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Undeveloping World

The Eurozone's weakest have taken a hit in the latest Failed States Index.

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

Dark Crystal

Why didn't anyone predict the Arab revolutions?

553099_fs_patrick_836430042.jpg
553099_fs_patrick_836430042.jpg

The Brutal Truth

Failed states are mainly a threat to their own inhabitants. We should help them anyway.

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

12 Degrees of Failure

How does a weak state become a failed state?

567765_100619_Somalia_image2.jpg
567765_100619_Somalia_image2.jpg

Reality Check: How Bad Are They?

Worlds apart in language, culture, and daily routine, the top failed states still share a quality of life that is at best difficult and at worst fatal for the majority of the population.

567892_100620_FS_chinamap2.jpg
567892_100620_FS_chinamap2.jpg

Money Can Buy Love

China isn't just investing in minerals, oil, and other raw goods -- it's buying diplomatic favors and loyalty, too. Chinese investment by region, 2005-2009, in billions of dollars:

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

Actually, It’s Mountains

Sometimes the toughest obstacles are the naturally occurring ones.

567898_100617_1016847662.jpg
567898_100617_1016847662.jpg

Who Else Is to Blame?

From security short falls to lack of government accountibility, Mo Ibrahim, Paul Wolfowitz, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Bruce Babbitt, and Raymond C. Offenheiser explain those contributing factors that cripple societies and inevitably keep failed states failing.

Load 10 More Articles
Loading graphics

Welcome to a world of insight.

Explore the benefits of your FP subscription.

Stay updated on the topics you care about with email alerts. Sign up below.

Choose a few newsletters that interest you.

Here are some we think you might like.

  • Morning Brief thumbnail
  • Africa Brief thumbnail
  • Latin America Brief thumbnail
  • China Brief thumbnail
  • South Asia Brief thumbnail
  • Situation Report thumbnail

Keep up with the world without stopping yours.

Download the FP mobile app to read anytime, anywhere.

Download on the App Store
  • Read the magazine
  • Save articles (and read offline)
  • Customize your feed
  • Listen to FP podcasts
Download on the Apple App Store
Download on the Google Play Store

Analyze the world’s biggest events.

Join in-depth conversations and interact with foreign-policy experts with

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JULY 15: EU Commissioner for European Green Deal - First Vice President and Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans talks to to media in the Berlaymont building, the EU Commission headquarter on July 15, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. EU Commissioners talked about making transport greener. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JULY 15: EU Commissioner for European Green Deal - First Vice President and Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans talks to to media in the Berlaymont building, the EU Commission headquarter on July 15, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. EU Commissioners talked about making transport greener. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Europe’s Top Climate Negotiator on the Road After COP27

  1. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

  2. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

Frans Timmermans returned from COP27 with his dreams dashed. Europe’s top climate negotiator says the global climate summit was a disappointment: The pledges made were simply not aggressiv...Show more

Reporters-notebook-FPLive-site-3-2
Reporters-notebook-FPLive-site-3-2

Reporters’ Notebook — Winter and the War

✓  

Registered

  |   Ask a Question Ask a Question   |   Add to Calendar
  1. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

  2. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues into 2023, the weather will have an important impact. Ukrainians, of course, are more vulnerable than usual to power outages and energy shocks. But Rus...Show more

Ram-Guha-Modi-India-FPLive-site-3-2
Ram-Guha-Modi-India-FPLive-site-3-2

Ramachandra Guha on Modi’s India

✓  

Registered

  |   Ask a Question Ask a Question   |   Add to Calendar
  1. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

  2. Only FP subscribers can submit questions for FP Live interviews.

    ALREADY AN FP SUBSCRIBER?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely the most popular elected leader in the world. No other politician has won so many votes in history. Few other incumbent leaders around the world...Show more

See what’s trending.

Most popular articles on FP right now.