An international corruption monitoring group says Somalia's economic and political collapse has made the African state the most corrupt country in the world.
Berlin-based Transparency International issued the assessment in its annual report Tuesday. The group ranks Iraq and Burma just behind Somalia on its corruption index.
Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand were rated the least corrupt nations.
Transparency International calls graft a human rights issue, noting that in poor countries, corruption can mean the difference between life and death when it undermines public health and sanitation operations. The report says there is a "fatal link" between graft, poverty and failed institutions.
The group also criticizes what it calls the "disturbingly uneven" enforcement of anti-corruption laws in wealthier countries.
The report was compiled by researchers at the University of Passau in Germany.
Transparency International's report says 10 nations significantly improved their ranking since last year (Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey), while Britain and four other nations (Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives and Norway) saw their standings decline signifcantly
Britain's decline was linked to a government decision in late 2006 to terminate a criminal probe into allegations of corruption in a huge Saudi defense contract awarded to British Aerospace Systems.