Rankings of “free” countries in the world: which countries received the highest expert rating in 2020

November 13, 2020
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Free countries ranking 2020
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210 countries were assessed for their “freedom” in 2020. It shows the level of political rights and civil liberties that countries ensure for their citizens and residents.

The international non-governmental organisation Freedom House has been ranking “free” countries since 1973. Experts annually update the rating and assign freedom status to states. There are 3 such statuses in total – “free”, “partially free” and “not free”.

Freedom House analysts do not award places to countries – only scores. In 2020, Finland, Norway and Sweden scored a maximum of 100 points. By comparison, Russia’s freedom index is 20, and the country has been awarded the status of ‘non-free’.

In the political rights category, 10 countries scored a maximum of 40 points: the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Japan, Uruguay, Canada and New Zealand joined the leaders of the rating. Luxembourg also has the highest level of civil liberties with 60 points.

Switzerland and Portugal were the closest to the leaders in the countries where citizenship and residence permit investment programmes are in place. Both countries scored 96 points each.

What is a "free" country

A country is considered “free” if the state does not control and prosecute its citizens for political reasons. Such a country ensures freedom of speech and fair elections, and its residents are equal before the law.

The rating takes into account not only the formal enshrinement of rights and freedoms, for example, in legislation and the country’s constitution. The main focus is on how far these rights are actually respected.

How was the rating of "free" countries compiled?

The authors of the rating are based on the standards of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Experts believe that its provisions are applicable to all countries regardless of geography, ethnicity, religion or level of economic development.

Political scientists and experts in human rights protection participate in a special survey, study news and government documents and government statistics. 40 consultants and 125 analysts took part in the rating in 2020.

The experts assessed the countries on 25 parameters and in each case the country was given 0 to 4 points. Zero means no freedom at all, and four means maximum freedom.

In the category of political rights, we consider the electoral process, how many political parties there are in the country and how the government organises it. Civil liberties are assessed in terms of freedom of speech and religion, working conditions and individual rights.

Crossing the summary scores by category allows us to draw a conclusion about the country’s status.

How to determine country status

World Free Countries Ranking, 2020
Horizontal - total assessment of political rights, vertical - civil liberties. Statuses: F - "free", PF - "partially free", NF - "not free".
Source: Free House, 2020

How to obtain citizenship or residence permit in a "free" country for investments

The performance of countries with investment programmes is high and there are minimal differences between them. We presented the results for the countries with investment programmes as a table.

Evaluation of countries with investment programmes

Country Index and status Political Rights Index Index of civil liberties
Switzerland 96, free 39 57
Portugal 96, free 39 57
UK 94, free 39 55
Austria 93, free 37 56
Dominica 93, free 37 56
Saint Lucia 92, free 38 54
Malta 90, free 35 55
Saint Kitts and Nevis 89, free 36 53
Grenada 89, free 37 52
Greece 88, free 37 51
Antigua and Barbuda 85, free 33 52
Vanuatu 82, free 33 49
Montenegro 62, partially free 22 40

13 “free” countries allow foreigners to obtain citizenship or residence permits for investments. Each country sets its own conditions and minimum investment amount for participation in the programme.

In Switzerland, it is possible to obtain a residence permit for financially independent persons. To do this, the investor needs to buy real estate in the country and pay a chord tax annually to the canton. The amount of tax is around 250,000 ₣ per year.

A residence permit status allows you to live in the country and travel around the Schengen countries without a visa. But an investor will not be allowed to work or do business in Switzerland.

A residence permit status allows you to live in the country and travel around the Schengen countries without a visa. But an investor will not be allowed to work or do business in Switzerland.

Portugal’s residence permit programme has a wide range of investment options. The participant can buy real estate, invest in business, open a deposit in a bank or become a sponsor of scientific research and projects to preserve the country’s cultural heritage. The minimum investment amount is 250 000 €.


Programme participants can apply for citizenship after 5 years of maintaining residency status.


Programme participants can apply for citizenship after 5 years of maintaining residency status.

A UK residence permit is issued for business investments of £2 million or more. The status is granted for 3 years and 4 months, after which it can be extended. Spouses and minor children can obtain the residence permit together with the investor.

A residence permit in Austria for financially independent persons is suitable for investors who want to live permanently in Austria and do not plan to work or do business in the country. The number of participants is limited by government quotas.

There are 2 government programmes in Malta – residence permit and permanent residence permit for investment.

In order to participate, the investor has to fulfill several conditions: to buy a property in the country, to pay an administrative fee. Under the permanent residence programme you also need to buy government bonds for a sum of 250 000 € or more. Under the terms of the residence permit programme, the investor pays an annual tax on world income.

In order to participate, the investor has to fulfill several conditions: to buy a property in the country, to pay an administrative fee. Under the permanent residence programme you also need to buy government bonds for a sum of 250 000 € or more. Under the terms of the residence permit programme, the investor pays an annual tax on world income.

A residence permit in Greece enables residents to live, work and conduct business in Greece. Residence status can be obtained for real estate investments in the country from 250 000 €. In this case, the investor can buy an object, rent an apartment in a tourist complex, buy a plot of land for construction or agriculture.

Caribbean citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia allows you to travel the world without visas. For example, the Schengen countries, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Grenada’s passport also allows travel to China and an E-2 business visa to the USA.

Citizenship of these Caribbean countries is given away for economic investment – in the form of a one-time contribution, a real estate contribution, government bonds or business. The minimum investment amount for Caribbean programmes is $100,000.

Citizenship of these Caribbean countries is given away for economic investment – in the form of a one-time contribution, a real estate contribution, government bonds or business. The minimum investment amount for Caribbean programmes is $100,000.

The Vanuatu citizenship programme is the fastest in the world. According to its terms, a passport can be issued within 1-2 months. The programme provides for only 1 investment option – contribution to a public fund. The minimum amount of the contribution is $130,000.

Vanuatu citizens can travel without visas to 130 countries around the world, including the Schengen countries and the United Kingdom.

Vanuatu citizens can travel without visas to 130 countries around the world, including the Schengen countries and the United Kingdom.

Citizenship of Montenegro is issued if 2 conditions are met. The investor must pay a non-refundable fee and acquire a share in the construction of tourist facilities. The real estate to be purchased must be approved by the government. The minimum investment amount is 350 000 €.

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