The 27 countries in the world with the most freedom

Sweden Swedish FansSweden supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France on June 13, 2016 in Paris, France.Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Freedom means different things to different people.

But Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that releases an annual report on freedom around the world, measures it 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 0-40 and its civil liberties on a scale of 0-60.

Freedom House measured political rights by the degree with which a country's elections are free and fair, as well as by how much political pluralism and participation there is. Civil liberties, on the other hand, were measured by how free and independent the media is and how much freedom of expression and assembly there is.

Those scores were then assigned a numerical rating of one through seven, and subsequently averaged to obtain the country's overall freedom rating.

For example, the US received 33 out of 40 points for political rights, and 53 out of 60 points for civil liberties, giving the land of the free a total of 86 out of 100 points. Consequently, it received a freedom rating of 1.5 out of 7.

That score makes the US a free country (1.0 to 2.5 is free; 3.0 to 5.0 is partly free; and 5.5 to 7.0 is not free), but not the freest in the world by any means.

In the ranking below, countries with a shared freedom rating were listed by alphabetical order, except for the three countries that received the top score.

Check out the 27 countries with the most freedom below:

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27. United Kingdom

27. United Kingdom

Freedom Score: 94

The United Kingdom received a score of 95 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing five civil liberties points in the freedom of expression and belief, rule of law, and individual rights categories.

26. Tuvalu

26. Tuvalu

Freedom Score: 94

Tuvalu also received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

25. Spain

25. Spain

Freedom score: 94

Spain also received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two political rights points under the functioning of government category, and four civil liberties points under the freedom of expression, rule of law, individual rights, and associational and organizational categories.

24. Germany

24. Germany

Freedom score: 94

Germany received a score of 95 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing one political rights points under the political pluralism and participation category, and four civil liberties points under the freedom of expression, rule of law, and individual rights categories.

23. Estonia

23. Estonia

Freedom score: 94

Estonia also received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two political rights points under functioning of government and political pluralism and participation categories, and four civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

22. Cyprus

22. Cyprus

Freedom score: 94

Cyprus also received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two political rights points under electoral process and functioning of government categories, and four civil liberties points under the rule of law, individual rights, and freedom of expression categories.

21. Chile

21. Chile

Freedom score: 94

Chile also received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing three political rights points under political pluralism and participation and functioning of government categories, and three civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

20. Austria

20. Austria

Freedom score: 94

Austria received a score of 94 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing three political rights points under political pluralism and participation and functioning of government categories, and two civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

19. Iceland

19. Iceland

Freedom score: 95

Iceland received a score of 97 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

18. Belgium

18. Belgium

Freedom score: 95

Belgium also received a score of 95 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing five civil liberties points under the rule of law, individual rights, and freedom of expression and belief categories.

17. Switzerland

17. Switzerland

Freedom score: 96

Switzerland received a score of 96 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing one political rights point under political pluralism and participation category, and three civil liberties points under the rule of law, individual rights and freedom of expression and belief categories.

16. Japan

16. Japan

Freedom score: 96

Japan also received a score of 96 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing four civil liberties points under the rule of law, individual rights and freedom of expression and belief categories.

15. Ireland

15. Ireland

Freedom score: 96

Ireland also received a score of 96 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing one political rights point under the functioning of government category, and three civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

14. Barbados

14. Barbados

Freedom score: 96

Barbados also received a score of 96 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

13. Andorra

13. Andorra

Freedom score: 96

Andorra also received a score of 96 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

12. San Marino

12. San Marino

Freedom score: 97

San Marino received a score of 97 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

11. Portugal

11. Portugal

Freedom score: 97

Portugal also received a score of 97 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories, and one political rights point under the functioning of government category.

10. Denmark

10. Denmark

Freedom score: 97

Denmark also received a score of 97 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing three civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

9. Uruguay

9. Uruguay

Freedom score: 98

Uruguay received a score of 98 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

8. New Zealand

8. New Zealand

Freedom score: 98

New Zealand also received a score of 98 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

7. Luxembourg

7. Luxembourg

Freedom score: 98

Luxembourg also received a score of 98 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

6. Australia

6. Australia

Freedom score: 98

Australia also received a score of 98 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing two civil liberties points under the rule of law and individual rights categories.

5. Netherlands

5. Netherlands

Freedom score: 99

The Netherlands received a score of 99 in Freedom House's 2017 report, losing one civil liberties point under the rule of law category.

4. Canada

4. Canada

Freedom score: 99

Canada also received a score of 99 in Freedom House's 2017 report. The country lost one civil liberties point for rule of law, citing strict defamation laws and high rates of gender and racial discrimination among indigenous women.

1. Sweden (tie)

1. Sweden (tie)

Freedom score: 100

Sweden received a score of 100 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

1. Norway (tie)

1. Norway (tie)

Freedom score: 100

Finland also received a score of 100 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

1. Finland (tie)

1. Finland (tie)

Freedom score: 100

Finland also received a score of 100 in Freedom House's 2017 report.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Freedom House's top 10 countries in 2018 also match rather well with Forbes' list of the 10 happiest countries in 2018.

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