Graphic for Failed States Index 2006
Failed States Index 2006 shows which countries are at risk of going belly-up.

Sudan topped the second annual Failed States Index [FSI], published by The Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy journal. Zimbabwe, however, saw the steepest slide in the index.

We’ve established that we like development statistics that are easy to read and understand. F.S.I. 2006 is not as visually appealing, but its 12 indicators provide another standardized way at interpreting how states evolve or devolve.
The Index uses the following 12 indicators:

  1. Mounting Demographic Pressures
  2. Massive Movement of Refugees and IDPs
  3. Legacy of Vengeance Seeking Group Grievance
  4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight
  5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
  6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline
  7. Criminalization or Delegitimization of the State
  8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
  9. Widespread Violation of Human Rights
  10. Security Apparatus as “State within a State”
  11. Rise of Factionalized Elites
  12. Intervention of Other States or External Actors
Wonder why some of these states are failing? Wonder no more. A photo essay by Jan Banning shows police, city and state officials working for little or no money around the world. The best example? A Liberian county governor had no money for an office, which locals built with their own money. They ran out of cash to build windows or a door.

Scores of 1 to 10 in each category are tallied to quantify the degree of failure experienced by a country. The 146 countries in the index are then grouped by score ranges, dividing them into “critical,” “in danger,” “borderline” and “sustainable” or “stable.”

Sudan (112.3 points) has been wrecked by a seemingly intractable conflict in the Darfur region. The Democratic Republic of Congo (110.1) ranked second. Côte d’Ivoire and Iraq came in third and fourth, respectively, and are also no surprises.

Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Nigeria and China skidded by 10 or more points, while stability increased in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United States scored 34.5 points and did not make the cut for the “stable” or “sustainable” group of countries. Neither did Britain, Germany or France, which all ranked in “borderline.”

The most stable countries? Finland, Sweden and Norway.