March 6, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Freest Countries in the World


The Freest Countries in the World

Each year countries are ranked based on their level of freedom. Factors like government control and citizen’s rights play huge factors in the country’s overall score.

Here is the list of the 10 current freest countries in the world, as well as the countries who rank the lowest, and an explanation of how rank is determined.

woman taking tape off mouth and woman in car split image

The Human Freedom Index

Before we dive into the specific countries, it’s important to understand how this list was determined.

The Cato Institute in Washington D.C. and the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada co-published the annual Human Freedom Index Report, which essentially ranks the countries based on how free they are.

The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1977 by Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles KochMatthew G. Bisanz, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Human Freedom Index: Ranking System

The Human Freedom Index Report ranks 165 countries/territories, representing 98.8% of the world’s population, across a broad range of indicators.

PeopleMaster1305, Shutterstock

The Human Freedom Index: Indicators

Each of the indicators examined fits into one of 12 meta-categories, including: safety, religion, expression and information, government, legal system, money, trade, and more.

Freedom of pressYavuz Sariyildiz, Shutterstock

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Ranking From 0-10

The Human Freedom Index gives each country a score from 0 to 10, wherein a score of 10 represents the most freedom and 0 represents no freedom at all.

Freedom of speechSergeyCo, Shutterstock

The Human Freedom Score

These values are compiled into in two distinct scores: Personal Freedom and Economic Freedom, which are then combined to form the final Human Freedom score.

Desire for freedomSergey Nivens, Shutterstock

Personal Freedom

According to World Population Review, personal freedom is defined as “an individual's freedom of opinion and expression, equality before the courts, security of private property, and freedom to come and go.”

Concrete wallKostsov, Shutterstock

Personal Freedom Indicators

Personal freedom involves indicators such as: the fairness of the laws, personal safety, freedom of movement and assembly, freedom of religion, freedom to run for political office, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and expression, and freedom to pursue same-sex relationships or obtain a divorce.

PrideShawn Goldberg, Shutterstock

Personal Freedom in the US

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution lists several personal freedoms that are guaranteed to all U.S. citizens.

ProtestingRawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Economic Freedom: Defined

Economic freedom enables people to prosper in a country without intervention from the government or economic authority.

Economic freedompathdoc, Shuttertstock

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Economic Freedom: Explained

Economic Freedom consists of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete in markets, and protection of person and property.

Business meeting. Business people shaking handsASDF_MEDIA, Shutterstock

The Freest Country in the World

Using the Human Freedom Index, which factors economic and personal freedoms together, Switzerland is the world's freest country.

People Walking on the street of Zürich, SwitzerlandLewin Bormann, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Least Free Country in the World

The world's least free country is Syria, which ranks at the bottom of the list based on the Human Freedom Index.

Woman and a child walking on the street of Damascus, SyriaVyacheslav Argenberg, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Freest Countries in the World

The following countries are listed as the freest countries in the world, based on their Human Freedom Score in 2023.

Flags of the worldkbuconi, Shutterstock

1. Switzerland

As already stated, Switzerland is the freest country in the world, with a Human Freedom Score of 9.01, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.39, and an Economic Freedom Score of 8.47 in 2023.

People walking on the street of Basel, SwitzerlandVV Nincic, Flickr

2. New Zealand

New Zealand comes in second as one of the freest countries in the world, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.88, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.2, and an Economic Freedom Score of 8.43 in 2023.

Photo of Te Raukura in Wellington, New ZealandMichal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

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3. Denmark

Denmark places third, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.83, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.35, and an Economic Freedom Score of 8.1 in 2023.

People Walking on the Streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, Northern Europe.Mstyslav Chernov, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

4. Ireland

Ireland comes in fourth, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.79, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.27, and an Economic Freedom Score of 8.11 in 2023.

People Walking on the Grafton Street in DublinRon Cogswell, Flickr

5. Sweden

Sweden places fifth, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.75, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.43, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.81 in 2023.

People Walking on Södra Förstadsgatan, a pedestrian street in Malmö, SwedenJorchr, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

6. Estonia

Estonia is the sixth freest country in the world, coming extremely close to Sweden with a Human Freedom Score of 8.75, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.32, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.95 in 2023.

People Walking on the Streets of Tallinn Old Town, EstoniaVisit Estonia, Flickr

7. Iceland

Iceland places seventh, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.73, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.31, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.93 in 2023.

Street Photography of Downtown ReykjavikJames Brooks, Flickr

8. Luxembourg

Luxembourg comes in eighth, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.71, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.29, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.91 in 2023.

People Walking on the Grand-Rue, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Flickr

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9. Finland

Finland places ninth in the freest countries in the world, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.7, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.33, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.81 in 2023.

People Walking on the streets of Helsinki, Finland.wanghongliu, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

10. Norway

The tenth freest country in the world is Norway, with a Human Freedom Score of 8.58, a Personal Freedom Score of 9.23, and an Economic Freedom Score of 7.67 in 2023.

People Walking on the street of Bergen NorwayRamon Perucho, Pexels

Average Human Freedom Scores

In the 2021 edition of the Human Freedom Index, the average human freedom score was 7.12. It is said that overall freedom scores dropped drastically during the recent pandemic.

Masked ProtestGround Picture, Shutterstock

Human Freedom Scores Based on Regions

The regions with the highest levels of freedom are North America, Western Europe, and East Asia.

The lowest levels of freedom are in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.

Happy woman holding white flower bouquet and ice creamValeria Ushakova, Pexels

Top Countries with the Lowest Human Freedom Scores

The top 10 countries with the lowest human freedom scores include: Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Myanmar, Iran, Venezuela, Eqypt, Somalia, Saudia Arabia, and Iraq.

All of which have a score of less than 5.

People Walking on the Molavi Bazaar Hazrati street in Tehran IranKamyar Adl, Flickrt

The United States of America’s Score

In 2023, the US ranked 17th with a Human Freedom Score of 8.39, a Personal Freedom Score of 8.57, and an Economic Freedom Score of 8.14.

Ahead of the US was: Japan, Latvia, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

Happy kids at elementary school holding handsRawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

All in all, Switzerland stands as the freest country in the world given their strong commitment to personal freedom and economic openness.

The US comes in at 17th, with high scores in all three categories, proving that America may not top the list, but it definitely isn’t far off, keeping with its reputation as “land of the free.”

St. Moritz, SwitzerlandYü Lan, Adobe Stock

Sources: 1, 2


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