The 25 countries in the world with the least amount of freedom

Bashar al AssadSyrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Syrian army soldiers in eastern Ghouta, Syria, March 18, 2018.SANA/Handout via REUTERS

  • The independent watchdog organization Freedom House annually measures the freedom of every country around the world.
  • Freedom House measures freedom in terms of civil liberties and political rights and compiles data from media, research articles, government documents, and other sources to compute each country's freedom score.

Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that releases an annual report on freedom around the world, measures freedom in terms of civil liberties and political rights.

Their annual report, Freedom in the World, "operates from the assumption that freedom for all people is best achieved in liberal democratic societies."

In 2018, more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions created the report by collecting data from media, research articles, government documents, and other sources.

That data was then used to score a country's political rights on a scale of 0 to 40 and its civil liberties on a scale of 0 to 60, with a total freedom score of 100 being the highest and 0 being the lowest.

Freedom House measured political rights by the degree with which a country's elections are determined to be free and fair, as well as by the extent of political pluralism and participation. The group measured civil liberties, on the other hand, by how free and independent the media is and the extent of freedom of expression and assembly.

In the ranking below, countries with a shared freedom rating were listed by alphabetical order. Countries with an asterisk also denote territories, not independent countries.

Check out the 25 countries with the least freedom below:

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25. Cuba

25. Cuba

Freedom Score: 14

24. China

24. China

Freedom Score: 14

23. Yemen

23. Yemen

Freedom Score: 13

22. Laos

22. Laos

Freedom Score: 12

21. Gaza Strip*

21. Gaza Strip*

Freedom Score: 12

Freedom House gave Gaza Strip an asterisk because the country's residents are governed by the fundamentalist organization Hamas "without democratic legitimacy, and its unresolved schism with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank has contributed to legal confusion and repeated postponement of overdue elections."

20. Ethiopia

20. Ethiopia

Freedom Score: 12

19. Bahrain

19. Bahrain

Freedom Score: 12

18. Azerbaijan

18. Azerbaijan

Freedom Score: 12

17. Tajikistan

17. Tajikistan

Freedom Score: 11

16. South Ossetia*

16. South Ossetia*

Freedom Score: 10

Freedom House gave South Ossetia an asterisk because it's a breakaway country from the 2008 Russo-Georgian War that "remains almost entirely dependent on Russia, and Moscow exerts a decisive influence over its politics and governance."

15. Libya

15. Libya

Freedom Score: 9

14. Crimea*

14. Crimea*

Freedom Score: 9

Freedom House gave Crimea an asterisk because Russian forces invaded Ukrainian region in 2014 and annexed it through a referendum that the Western world largely condemned as illegal.

13. Central African Republic

13. Central African Republic

Freedom Score: 9

12. Sudan

12. Sudan

Freedom Score: 8

11. Uzbekistan

11. Uzbekistan

Freedom Score: 7

10. Somalia

10. Somalia

Freedom Score: 7

9. Saudi Arabia

9. Saudi Arabia

Freedom Score: 7

8. Equatorial Guinea

8. Equatorial Guinea

Freedom Score: 7

7. Western Sahara*

7. Western Sahara*

Freedom Score: 4

Freedom House did not provide a summary for Western Sahara, but the country has large been a disputed area between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

6. Turkmenistan

6. Turkmenistan

Freedom Score: 4

5. North Korea

5. North Korea

Freedom Score: 3

4. Eritrea

4. Eritrea

Freedom Score: 3

3. South Sudan

3. South Sudan

Freedom Score: 2

2. Tibet*

2. Tibet*

Freedom Score: 1

Freedom House gave Tibet an asterisk because the country is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and local decision-making power comes from Beijing.

1. Syria

1. Syria

Freedom Score: -1

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