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Denmark, Finland and New Zealand least corrupt countries, according to index

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Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tied for first place as the least corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perception Index, which measures perceived levels of government corruption in 176 countries worldwide.

While the index, which the non-profit group published Dec. 5, ranks countries from 0, "highly corrupt," to 100, "very clean," no country scored perfectly and the three top-ranked countries only scored a 90. Two-thirds of the countries included in the index scored below 50. The index compiles data from 13 surveys conducted by independent institutions such as the World Bank and Bertelsmann Foundation.

The United States ranked nineteenth with a score of 73.

The three leading countries scored well because they provide open access to information and have clear rules governing the behavior of those in public positions, says Transparency International in a Dec. 5 blog post accompanying the index.

Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia tied for last place in the index. They ranked as the most corrupt countries in part because they lack accountable leadership and effective public institutions, says Transparency International. 

Eurozone countries affected by financial crisis and countries impacted by the Arab Spring that have not made progress on genuine political reform also ranked low in the corruption index, notes the organization. Egypt, for one, dipped significantly in its ranking.

For more:
- read this blog post on the index
- view the results and rankings of the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index

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