The most ‘fragile’ countries in the world vs South Africa

The Fund for Peace has released its latest Fragile States Index, showing which countries in the world are most at risk of crumbling due to internal conflicts and circumstances.

The index highlights not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also when those pressures push a state towards the brink of failure.

Fund for Peace noted that South Africa’ position has worsened since 2015, however it is still on the ‘right side’ of the table – 108th out of 178 countries assessed.

While the Index notes it is not predicting which countries will fail, it categorises countries according to risk – high risk nations (with scores over 100) face potential state failure.

Worryingly, South Africa – with a score of 69.9 – is a mere 0.1 points away from entering the “elevated warning” category of fragility – which would put it in the same league as countries such as Hondurus, Mexico, Turkey and Ukraine.

South Africa’s neighbour, Zimbabwe, is already in the danger zone with a score of 100.5 – the 16th most fragile nation in the world.

These are the 10 most and least fragile states in the world:

# Country Score
1 Somalia 114.0
2 South Sudan 113.8
3 Central African Republic 112.1
4 Sudan 111.5
4 Yemen 111.5
6 Syria 110.8
7 Chad 110.1
8 Democratic Republic of Congo 110.0
9 Afghanistan 107.9
10 Haiti 105.1
108 South Africa 69.9
169 Canada 23.8
170 Iceland 22.8
171 Sweden 22.6
172 Ireland 22.5
172 Australia 22.5
174 Switzerland 21.8
175 Denmark 21.5
176 New Zealand 21.3
177 Norway 21.2
178 Finland 18.8

The Fragile States Index is based on the assessment of twelve primary social, economic and political indicators, each split into an average of 14 sub-indicators, all analysed through The Fund for Peace’s proprietary software.

The 12 indicators are:


  • Mounting demographic pressures.
  • Massive displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies.
  • Widespread vengeance-seeking group grievance.
  • Chronic and sustained human flight.


  • Uneven economic development along group lines.
  • Severe economic decline.


  • Criminalisation and/or delegitimisation of the state.
  • Deterioration of public services.
  • Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses.
  • Security apparatus operating as a “state within a state”.
  • Rise of factionalised elites.
  • Intervention of external political agents.

South Africa has slipped on all but two of the above indicators – refugees and state legitimacy – with the biggest drop seen in group grievance (marking the significant rise in public protests) and public services.

Looking at the trend over the past decade, it’s clear that South Africa is heading in a negative direction, with the biggest slump seen in the economic indicators.

In the last 10 years, the country has hit its worst levels in the economic indicator, as well as in human flight and the brain drain, pointing to a large loss off skills through emigration.

Public services and group grievances have also reached their worst point in 10 years, the data shows.

“Weak and failing states pose a challenge to the international community,” the group said.

“In today’s world, with its highly globalized economy, information systems and interlaced security, pressures on one fragile state can have serious repercussions not only for that state and its people, but also for its neighbors and other states halfway across the globe.”

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The most ‘fragile’ countries in the world vs South Africa