Here’s the link to a recently released index of the degree of corruption in countries around the world: http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009/cpi_2009_table.
The worst countries aren’t much of a surprise—Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq. The countries at the top aren’t all that surprising either—New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. The neighborhood around the United States, which came in 19th is interesting:
I guess English speaking countries are a little more corrupt than most Western democracies (Ireland, UK, USA), German speaking countries a little less corrupt (Germany, Austria) and French speaking countries are a little more corrupt (Belgium, France). Japan is pretty westernized, so it makes sense in this group.
The countries in the group after the United States seems unusual. Qatar is a small, rich oil-sheikdom, while Barbados and St. Lucia are Caribbean Islands. I can’t say that I’ve ever thought much about either Barbados or St. Lucia. I don’t care much for the beach, so I’ve never been on a Caribbean vacation. Barbados is the third most developed country in the Western hemisphere.
It’s now independent after several centuries as an English colony. You can’t complain about the beaches.
St. Lucia shares some of Barbados’s history. Its ownership was disputed between France and England for 200 years, but in the early 19th century the English established control and held on to St. Lucia until it became independent.
Even though Barbados and St. Lucia are both in the Lesser Antilles chain and not all that far apart from one another, their geography is quite different. While Barbados is pretty flat, with a maximum elevation only a little over 1,000 feet, St. Lucia is volcanic and mountainous.
In both countries the official language is English, but in Barbados most of the population speaks an English dialect while in St. Lucia most of the population speaks a French dialect. Both countries are Christian, with Barbados mostly Anglican and St. Lucia mostly Roman Catholic. In both countries the great majority of the population is of African descent.
I tried to check out the crime rates in both countries, but they are so small that they don’t appear in most of compiled lists.
Anyway, from what I could see it looks like these small island countries are doing reasonably well, especially compared to some of the Caribbean countries like Haiti and Jamaica that often make the news here in the United States.