In Pictures: The 20 Cleanest, Least Corrupt Countries in the World

Transparency International has just published its latest Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 180 countries according to their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. Each country is scored from 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This gallery begins with the 20th least corrupt country and ends with the least corrupt country in the world.AFP/Reuters
20. Japan: 73/100. (Image: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe)Reuters

Transparency International has published its latest Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks countries according to their perceived levels of public sector corruption.

The annual index ranks 180 countries and territories across the globe according to experts and businesspeople. The 2017 results found a worrying trend of many countries failing to make any progress toward a cleaner, less corrupt society. Indeed, more than two-thirds of the countries in the index fell below 50 on the scoring system of zero to 100, where zero is the most corrupt.

The negative scores were largely found in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Sub-Sharan Africa. There were little surprises contained in the worst performing countries, which included Syria, still engulfed in a brutal and deadly civil war, and North Korea, under the strict control and censorship of Kim Jong Un.

The report’s release came amid a report of an investigative reporter in Slovakia being killed because, police said, he reported on fraud in the country, highlighting the peril faced by journalists in many parts of the world.

“No activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption,” said Patrick Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International. “Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up.”

The chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira Rubio, added: “CPI results correlate not only with the attacks on press freedom and the reduction of space for civil society organizations. In fact, what is at stake is the very essence of democracy and freedom.”

For the first time in several years, no country scored above 90 points. Yet amid the negative trends, there were many nations that continued to stand out for their commitment to an open, free society. Here are the countries that came top of the pack.

19. Ireland: 74/100. (Image: Irish leader Leo Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett applaud the national anthem before the 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Republic of Ireland and Austria at Aviva Stadium on June 11, 2017.)Getty Images
=16. United States: 75/100. (Image: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a "Make America Great Again" rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 22, 2017.)AFP
=16. Belgium: 75/100. (Image: Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel smiles during a ceremony marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 2015.)AFP
=16. Austria: 75/100. (Image: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is pictured just after parliamentary elections on October 15, 2017, in Vienna.)Getty Images
=13. Iceland: 77/100. (Image: Iceland's prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir listens during a news conference in Reykjavik, on November 30, 2017.)Reuters
=13. Hong Kong: 77/100. (Image: Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor, Hong Kong's new Chief Executive and her new cabinet are sworn in during an inauguration ceremony on July 1, 2017.)Getty Images
=13. Australia: 77/100. (Image: Malcolm Turnbull greets Liberal party supporters in Sydney on July 2, 2016, shortly before he was elected prime minister.)Getty Images
12. Germany: 81/100. (Image: Chancellor Angela Merkel during a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, on December 12, 2017.)Reuters
=8. United Kingdom: 82/100. (Image: Big Ben in London is pictured on March 29, 2017, as Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting the process to take the UK out of the European Union.)Getty Images
=8. The Netherlands: 82/100. (Image: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the VVD party waves after voting in the general election in The Hague, on March 15, 2017.)Reuters
=8. Luxembourg: 82/100. (Image: Prime Minister Xavier Bettel poses with his partner, Gauthier Destenay, after their wedding on May 15, 2015.)Reuters
=8. Canada: 82/100. (Image: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a victory rally in Ottawa on October 20, 2015.)Getty