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Mineral-Rich States Among the Least Stable

Failed State Index Also Reviews
Problems of Advanced States

Libya and Syria predictably score poorly on a test of stability. But even an industrialized country like Japan, when measured by some of the same indicators, can face enough mounting problems to show a noticeable change in just one year, according to a new study by the Fund for Peace.

The Failed State Index, a ranking and scoring of national stability, noted that these three countries dropped in measures of stability over the last year. Resource-rich countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Democratic Republic of Congo grew more chaotic.

While the absolute scores for stability in a country might be vastly different (Congo is the second most unstable and Japan was the 26th most stable), the authors of the report noted that the shifts in rankings and score in the Index from one year to the next can be as noteworthy as the raw scores themselves.

Japan is expected to recover in time, the Fund for Peace said in an analysis. Nonetheless, the study points out specific areas of vulnerability that can strike even advanced countries. The March 11, 2011 earthquake caused about $200 billion worth of damage, and nuclear power generation was suspended due to melt downs at Fukushima. The natural disaster only worsened the already bad political standing of the ruling party, leading to the resignation of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and presenting challenges for his successor, Yoshihiko Noda.

The Failed State Index, now in its eighth year, uses a blend of 12 political and social indicators to score the stress on a nation state. Although other countries scored worse than Libya (Number 50) and Syria (23), these two countries were among the ten whose situation worsened the most in relative terms.

The effects of Libya's instability were felt severely in the oil markets as its revolution took millions of barrels of crude off the market before other OPEC countries could compensate.

Mineral-rich Congo has also long been among the least stable countries in the world, but recent fighting in the east and a troubled election in 2011 caused its score to worsen. Senegal, Zambia and Turkey also saw their rankings drop significantly. Somalia retained its title as most unstable for the fifth year in a row.

The Failed State Index, which can be studied in detail here, assesses news and other reports from subject countries to deconstruct the elements of political instability in the world's countries and then to compare them in a standardized matrix. It is a joint project with Foreign Policy magazine.

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