Freedom is one of the most sought after human rights in the world. Most people want to live in a country where they are assured the freedom to voice their opinions, express their religious beliefs and have them accepted, and be appreciated by other people with different beliefs. For a long time, the US was one of the freest countries in the world. However, other countries have risen to the top regarding personal and economic freedom for residents. The freedom of a country was measured by the Freedom House Organization for their adherence to the guidelines set out by the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
10. Tied with 91 - Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Lithuania, and Taiwan
The tenth spot on the world's most free countries includes a few entries from the Caribbean, as well as one in northern Europe and one in east Asia. Although some levels of corruption does exist for countries in this category (such as the Bahamas and Lithuania), they were applauded by the report for their respect of press freedom (the Bahamas), their constitutional protection of academic freedom (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), their democratic process (Lithuania), and their ability to report on corrupt governmental officials in the free media (Taiwan).
9. Tied with 92 - St. Lucia, Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands
Coincidentally, all of the entires in 9th place happen to be island countries, with one in the Caribbean (St. Lucia) and three in the south Pacific (Palau, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands). These countries were particularly applauded for offering freedom of the press (St. Lucia), freedom of religion (Palau), a strong degree of political freedom (Kiritbati and Marshall Islands).
8. 93 - Micronesia
Micronesia has the 8th place on the list to itself, with a score of 93. It was recognized for its respect of freedom of religion, freedom of assembly (and the encouragement for citizens to join civil groups), academic freedom, the lack of laws against labor union formation, and equal rights between the sexes.
7. Tied with 94 - Czech Republic, Chile, Spain, Tuvalu
In 7th place comes the Czech Republic, Chile, Spain, and Tuvalu, all sharing a score of 94. Countries attained a score of 94 for highlights such as their constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press (Czech Republic, Tuvalu), the freedom of journalists (Chile), and a wide range of media options (Spain).
6. Tied with 95 - Dominica, Estonia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom
Ranking 6th with 95 spots are the small Caribbean island nation of Dominica, the baltic country of Estonia, the central European countries of Austria and Germany, the western European country of Belgium, and the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Countries were cited for their freedom of political organization (Dominica), respect of freedom of the press (Estonia), constitutional protection of media freedom (Austria, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom).
5. Tied with 96 - Switzerland, Ireland, Japan
In 5th place with 96 points are Switzerland in central Europe, Ireland in northwestern Europe, and Japan in east Asia. The countries were applauded for things like their freedom of assembly, constitutional protection of press freedom, and academic freedom.
4. Tied with 97 - Barbados, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal
Coming in 4th place with 97 points are the Caribbean nation of Barbados, the northern European countries of Denmark and Iceland, and the western European country of Portugal. Entries make it to 4th place by fully respecting academic freedom (Barbados), a media that reflects a diverse set of opinions (Denmark), extremely high rates of internet access (Iceland), and freedom to assembly (Portugal).
3. Tied with 98 - Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand
3rd place features Oceania's Australia and New Zealand, and the somewhat surprising position of South America's Uruguay. Uruguay was particularly applaued for its competitive and free multiparty political system. The country was also cited for low levels of corruption. Australia was included for its high level of internet access, among other things. New Zealand was included for its free and indepedent media, among other factors.
2. Tied with 99 - Canada, the Netherlands
The North American country of Canada is tied with the western European country of the Netherlands for second place. Canada was included for its intolerance of corruption and free media, as well as academic freedom. The Netherlands as well as applauded for their protection of media freedom and protection of journalists.
1. Tied with 100 - Norway, Sweden, Finland
Tied for first place are the northern European countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Common traits shared between the countries include a free and open media, protection of minority groups, the right to access government information, independent media sources, and the guarantee of religious freedom.