Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it’s fair to say that the U.S. is more socially liberal than many countries. But for pro-liberals, it’s disappointing (albeit perhaps not surprising) that 28 countries are more liberal than the U.S.
Wisevoter analyzed the policies of every country in the world, ranking their liberal ways based on several factors, including but not limited to:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of press
- Discrimination protections for minority groups
- Ability to create a business with minimal government interference
These are the Wisevoter’s results.
Liberal Democracy Index
Wisevoter ranked each country’s liberalness using a liberal democracy index. The higher the number, the more liberal the country.
Sweden is the most liberal country in the world, with a liberal democracy index of 0.878. The Scandinavian nation has a constitutional monarchy.
Denmark ranks 0.001 points below Sweden, with a liberal democracy index of 0.877. As with Sweden, it has a constitutional monarchy.
Norway joins its European neighbors with a liberal democracy index of 0.857. It, too, has a constitutional monarchy.
4: Costa Rica
With a country slogan like pura vida (pure life), it’s fitting that Costa Rica is one of the most liberal countries in the world. The Central American country has a presidential system of government.
Estonia may be tiny, but its citizens enjoy a liberal democracy index of 0.84. The northern European country’s government is a parliamentary republic.
6: New Zealand
It likely comes as little surprise to many that New Zealand ranks high on the liberal scale, with a liberal democracy index of 0.84. Kiwis have a constitutional monarchy and one of the highest human freedom indexes in the world, at 9.01.
Notoriously neutral Switzerland ranks as the seventh-most liberal country in the world. Its system of government is a parliamentary republic, and the Swiss enjoy the highest human freedom index of any nation (9.11).
Yet another northern European nation makes the list, with Finland snagging a 0.83 score on the liberal democracy index scale. Finland has a parliamentary republic system of government.
Germans will want to toast with extra Pilsners for their respectable 0.82 liberal democracy index ranking. Germany has a parliamentary republic government.
The Irish may also want to hit a pub in celebration of squeezing into the top ten most liberal countries in the world, with a 0.82 ranking. Ireland’s government is a parliamentary republic.
Belgium joins many of its fellow European nations in being a higher-than-average liberal country, with a liberal democracy index of 0.82. The Western European country has a constitutional monarchy.
The Netherlands is notorious for having among the most progressive LGBTIQA+ rights legislation in the world. It is a constitutional monarchy with a liberal democracy index of 0.81.
There are plenty of Portuguese custard tarts to go around Portugal, and liberal laws for its citizens also abound. Portugal’s liberal democracy index is 0.81, and it has a parliamentary republic government.
The Land Down Under ranks well on the liberal scale, with a liberal democracy index of 0.81. Australia has a constitutional monarchy system of government.
The tiny European country of Luxembourg offers its citizens a 0.8 liberal democracy index rating and a constitutional monarchy.
Dining on wine and homemade bread isn’t the only great part about living in France; its 0.8 liberal democracy index is attractive, too. France has a semi-presidential system of government.
17: South Korea
South Korea is the first Asian country to make this list, with a liberal democracy index of 0.79 and a presidential government system.
Animal rights aside, with bullfights still being legal in several parts of Spain, Spanish humans enjoy a liberal life, with a liberal democracy index of 0.78. Spain has a constitutional monarchy government.
19: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is neck and neck with Spain, having a liberal democracy index of 0.78 and a constitutional monarchy.
Italy offers beautiful scenery and an overall liberal lifestyle for its residents, with a liberal democracy index of 0.77. The southern European country has a parliamentary republic system of government.
Chile is the first of two South American countries to make the top 28 most liberal countries in the world ranking. It has a liberal democracy index of 0.77 and a presidential system of government.
Slovakia might not be on the typical tourist’s European bucket list, but those who go there will sense that its citizens have many freedoms. The Central European country has a 0.77 rating on the liberal democracy index and a parliamentary republic government.
Situated in eastern South America, Uruguay stands out from most of its neighbors for having an exceptionally high 0.76 liberal democracy index. Uruguay has a presidential system of government.
Canada’s 24th ranking as one of the most liberal countries in the world may come as a surprise to many Americans. Our northern neighbor has a liberal democracy index of 0.76 and is a constitutional monarchy.
Iceland has a liberal democracy index rating of 0.75. The Nordic island nation has a parliamentary republic system of government.
Austria is the second to last European country to make this list. With a 0.74 liberal democracy index rating and a parliamentary republic, it deserves a spot among its European neighbors, though, relatively speaking, its policies aren’t quite as liberal.
Japan joins South Korea as being an above-average liberal country. Residents on the East Asian island get to take advantage of a 0.74 liberal democracy index and a constitutional monarchy system of government.
Lithuania rounds out this list of the most liberal countries in the world. The Baltic European country has a liberal democracy index of 0.74 and a parliamentary republic.
The United States
So, where does the U.S. rank as a liberal country? In 29th place, a hair below Lithuania on the liberal democracy index. For those who aren’t thrilled that the U.S. doesn’t rank higher, its human freedom index of 8.73 ranks on par with most countries on this list.
Most Conservative Country
Eritrea is the most conservative country in the world, with a liberal democracy index of 0.01. The Northeast African country has a one-party government with a totalitarian dictatorship.
North Korea, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Belarus rank in second through fifth places as having the most conservative political policies in the world. Of these, North Korea has a one-party government, Afghanistan has no recognized government, Yemen has a semi-presidential government, and Belarus has a presidential government.
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