Transparency International, an organisation that acts as a watchdog for political and corporate corruption, has published its annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013 revealing some interesting results.
The index ranks countries by the perceived level of corruption within their public sectors, 100 being clean as a whistle and 0 signalling absolute corruption.
Out of 177 countries listed, less than a third surpassed the 50 mark. Eastern Europe and Central Asia was the worst region for corruption with 95% scoring below 50, followed closely by Sub-Saharan Africa (90%) and the Middle East and North Africa (84%).
EU and Western Europe was the region most devoid of corruption with only 23% scoring below 50 in the index.
Surprisingly, both the United Kingdom (14) and the United States (19), the world's largest economy, fail to make the top 10 for least corruption, while Spain drops 10 places to a rank of 40 after the sovereign debt crisis deepened corruption in the country.
Greece (80) remains the EU member state with the highest level of corruption while the highest riser since 2012 was Myanmar which broke free of 49 years of military rule in 2011, rising from 172 to 157.
The major global economies had varied results with China ranked at 80, Russia joint 127th and Japan at 18.
So, in what countries can you trust public officials and what countries should be avoided at all costs?
Least corrupt countries in the world (according to the index):
10) Canada (tied for 9th)
Canadian President Stephen Harper (Reuters)
Tony Abbott was inducted as Australia's new Prime Minister in September (Reuters)
A bastion of international law and transparency, the Netherlands finishes high on the Corruption Index (Reuters)
Switzerland prides itself on its clean and impartial image (Reuters)
6) Singapore (tied for 5th)
Like most Scandinavian countries, Norway scores well in terms of government openness and effectiveness (Reuters)
4) Sweden (tied for 3rd)
The Swedish principle of public access to official documents is one of the oldest established in the world, dating back to 1766 (Reuters)
Finland has slipped from 1st to 3rd in this year's index but transparency remains high in comparison to other European nations (Reuters)
2) New Zealand (tied for 1st)
The openness of the media in New Zealand has created a culture of political integrity (Reuters)
Most corrupt countries in the world (according to the index):
10) Syria (tied for 168th)
9) Turkmenistan (tied for 168th)
Turkmenistan Presidnet Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow allowed no one to run against him in the 2007 election and still only came out with 87% of the vote (Reuters)
8) Uzbekistan (tied for 168th)
Wikileaks cables revealed that U.S. diplomats said the former Soviet Republic was riddled with "rampant corruption", "organised crime", and torture (Reuters)
The country is plagued by sectarian violence and its huge bureaucracy is dominated by corruption (Reuters)
A bribe culture flourished under the Ghaddafi regime but remains prevalent after his fall (Reuters)
5) South Sudan
The world's newest state and one of the least-developed faces growing corruption, it's main challenge among many (Reuters)
Sudan violates press freedom regularly and bribery is rife (Reuters)
3) Afghanistan (tied for 175th)
Accusations of election fraud and bribery leave Afghanistan languishing in the Corruption Index (Reuters)
2) North Korea (tied for 175th)
1) Somalia (tied for 175th)
See the complete world map at Transparency International below:
This article was first published on December 6, 2013