By Vexen Crabtree 2013
|Social & Moral|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
There are 61 locations that fall within this category. By adding up all the known populations that fall within these locations, and summing their physical land areas, we can calculate population densities. Some islands and territories can end up being counted twice depending on how they are classified and divided up politically, but, mostly such errors involve only small populations. So, some data on this collection of countries in total:
The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.
|Pos.||Social & Moral|
Higher is better
Higher is better
Higher is better
|UN HDI (2016)|
Lower is better
|Population (2012)4||Land Area (2011)|
Lower is better
|1||Mauritius||61.3||74.60||$17 948||64||1.3m||2 030||647|
|2||S. Africa||59.0||57.66||$12 087||119||50.7m||1 213 090||42|
|3||Seychelles||55.4||73.30||$23 886||63||87 169||460||189|
|4||Morocco||53.5||74.31||$7 195||123||32.6m||446 300||73|
|5||Tunisia||51.3||74.98||$10 249||97||10.7m||155 360||69|
|6||Cape Verde||50.4||73.54||$6 049||122||0.5m||4 030||125|
|7||Kenya||50.0||62.16||$2 881||146||42.7m||569 140||75|
|8||Senegal||49.6||66.93||$2 250||162||13.1m||192 530||68|
|9||Ghana||49.6||61.53||$3 839||139||25.5m||227 540||112|
|10||Namibia||49.5||65.06||$9 770||125||2.4m||823 290||3|
|11||Burkina Faso||49.1||59.01||$1 537||185||17.5m||273 600||64|
|12||Botswana||48.9||64.51||$14 663||108||2.1m||566 730||4|
|13||Djibouti||47.8||62.30||$3 216||172||0.9m||23 180||40|
|14||Sao Tome & Principe||46.9||66.58||$3 070||142||0.2m||960||179|
|15||Egypt||46.5||71.33||$10 064||111||84.0m||995 450||84|
|16||Uganda||46.4||59.21||$1 670||163||35.6m||199 810||178|
|17||Rwanda||45.8||64.75||$1 617||159||11.3m||24 670||457|
|18||Libya||45.7||71.76||$14 303||102||6.5m||1 759 540||4|
|19||Gambia||45.5||60.46||$1 541||173||1.8m||10 120||180|
|20||Ethiopia||45.2||64.60||$1 523||174||86.5m||1 000 000||87|
|21||Malawi||45.0||63.88||$1 073||170||15.9m||94 280||168|
|22||Tanzania||44.9||65.51||$2 467||151||47.7m||885 800||54|
|23||Comoros||44.8||63.57||$1 335||160||0.8m||1 861||416|
|24||Liberia||44.7||61.19||$0 683||177||4.2m||96 320||44|
|25||Benin||44.2||59.76||$1 979||167||9.4m||112 760||83|
|26||Lesotho||44.2||50.08||$3 319||160||2.2m||30 360||73|
|27||Togo||44.1||60.18||$1 262||166||6.3m||54 390||116|
|28||Madagascar||44.1||65.52||$1 320||158||21.9m||581 540||38|
|29||Cameroon||43.8||55.96||$2 894||153||20.5m||472 710||43|
|30||Guinea-Bissau||43.8||55.49||$1 369||178||1.6m||28 120||56|
|31||Zambia||43.7||60.82||$3 464||139||13.9m||743 390||19|
|32||Algeria||43.5||75.03||$13 533||83||36.5m||2 381 740||15|
|33||Guinea||42.8||59.22||$1 058||183||10.5m||245 720||43|
|34||Eritrea||42.6||64.19||$1 490||179||5.6m||101 000||55|
|35||Swaziland||42.4||48.94||$7 522||148||1.2m||17 200||71|
|36||S. Sudan||42.3||56.13||$1 882||181||10.7m|
|37||Mozambique||42.1||55.48||$1 098||181||24.5m||786 380||31|
|38||Zimbabwe||41.6||59.20||$1 588||154||13.0m||386 850||34|
|39||Sierra Leone||41.4||51.32||$1 529||179||6.1m||71 620||86|
|40||Ivory Coast||40.1||51.89||$3 163||171||20.6m||318 000||65|
|41||Gabon||40.0||64.94||$19 044||109||1.6m||257 670||6|
|42||Nigeria||39.6||53.06||$5 443||152||166.6m||910 770||183|
|43||Congo, (Brazzaville)||39.1||62.89||$5 503||135||4.2m||341 500||12|
|44||Mauritania||38.3||63.24||$3 527||157||3.6m||1 030 700||4|
|45||Mali||38.0||58.47||$2 218||175||16.3m||1 220 190||13|
|46||Niger||38.0||61.94||$0 889||187||16.6m||1 266 700||13|
|47||Sudan||37.9||63.73||$3 846||165||35.0m||2 376 000||15|
|48||Burundi||35.6||57.12||$0 691||184||8.7m||25 680||341|
|49||Equatorial Guinea||34.3||57.91||$21 517||135||0.7m||28 050||26|
|50||Central African Rep.||34.2||51.46||$0 587||188||4.6m||622 980||7|
|51||Somalia||32.9||55.71||$0 294||9.8m||627 340||16|
|52||Congo, DR||32.5||59.06||$0 680||176||69.6m||2 267 050||31|
|53||Chad||31.3||51.90||$1 991||186||11.8m||1 259 200||9|
|54||Angola||30.7||52.70||$6 291||150||20.2m||1 246 700||16|
|Africa Avg||43.8||61.59||$5 109||150.7||19.8m||554 309||36|
|World Avg||54.1||71.27||$17 240||94.3||36.0m||620 450||58|
Not showing due to lack of data: Somaliland. This page only shows places where the database has enough data to be able to come to reasonable conclusions about each place. The main focus is on nation states, but, some distinct external territories may be listed if the database has enough information about them. Averages are calculated from as many valid data points as possible, meaning, that some territories and locations that are not listed above may still be used to calculate some of the average values. Some calculations only use Independent State data - hover the cursor over values to see hints.
|Pos.||Social & Moral|
Higher is better
|Gender Inequality (2015)|
Lower is better6
|Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)|
Higher is better
|Press Freedom (2013)|
Lower is better8
|LGBT Equality (2017)|
Higher is better
|14||Sao Tome & Principe||46.9||0.52||7||20|
|50||Central African Rep.||34.2||0.65||12||2661||20|
Human Rights struggle in Africa, where poverty and unstable education systems prevent attempts to engender wider support for human rights. The International Criminal Court is most active in Africa.
“The ICC, which was created in 2002, is a permanent tribunal that provides individual criminal liability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. [...] In 2011 the ICC dealt with situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (involving four cases against five individuals), the Central African Republic (one case against one individual), Uganda (one case against four individuals), the Darfur region of Sudan (four cases against six individuals, including the sitting president of the country), Kenya (one case against three individuals), Libya (one case against two individuals), and Cote D'Ivoire (one case against the former president). This is a reasonable sampling of major cases in recent years and the fact that national leaders have been charged is of considerable significance.”
It seems to some commentators that the ICC is exclusively concerned with Africa to an extent that is undue and even biased. Arguments have been made that its existence is slowing the progress of the African Union to develop continental procedures of its own. But, ultimately, the ICC only ever manages to engage with very small numbers of cases, and it seems that a local body can, and should, be developed to take on the rest.11
Things are indeed changing for the better:
“In 2016 May, Hissene Habre, Chad's ex-dictator, has been convicted in a court in Senegal, found guilty of war crimes against humanity, of rape and of torture. The Economist reports this as a potential game-changer - the first time a African national court has unilaterally tried a foreign dictator, setting a precedence for African human rights law. 'Perhaps 40,000 people died in Chad during Mr Habré's reign of terror between 1982 and 1990. Armed by America (and supported with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid because of his opposition to Muammar Qadaffi's regime in Libya), his political police crushed any tribe they deemed a threat to his rule. [...] This is a landmark for African justice, and a coup for the victims who have pursued it with help from Human Rights Watch, a watchdog.”
Such developments do have a bit of history, albeit a weak one.
“A regional human rights regime also operates in Africa, based on the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. It is substantively much weaker than its European and American counterparts. Nonetheless, it is of great regional symbolic significance and has provided considerable encouragement and support to national activists. The norms in the African Charter are riddled with clawback clauses that weaken the protections. For example, Article 6 states, No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In other words, so long as a government bothers to pass a law first it can deprive people of their freedom for pretty much any reason it chooses. [...] The institutions for monitoring and enforcement are extremely weak. [...]
Despite all these limitations, the African Commission is a leading regional voice for human rights. Its meetings provide the occasion for valuable networking by NGOs from across the continent. Its activities have helped to socialize African states to the idea that their human rights practices are legitimately subject to regional scrutiny - a not insignificant achievement given the radical notions of sovereignty and nonintervention that dominated the continent in the 1970s and 1980s. And, whatever the current shortcoming, there is an infrastructure in place that African states can build on in the future.”
Lower is better
|Disbelief In God (2007)|
Higher is better15
|Folk Religion (2010)|
|9||Central African Rep.||2||0.1||89.5||8.5||0.1||0.1||1.0||1.0|
|40||Sao Tome & Principe||0.1||82.2||0.1||0.1||0.1||2.9||12.6|
|59||Tristan da Cunha|
Some notes from John R. Hinnells:
“There are as many African religions as peoples or 'tribes', that is, many hundreds. [...] African religions belonged to pre-literate societies. This has affected ... our knowledge. [...] Non-literate religions change at least as much as literate ones, but changes go unrecorded, hence the mistaken view that African religions are unchanging. Their historical developments may be partially plotted through analysis of layers within current ritual an myth [and] historical documentation. [...] There has been some sharp reaction against [Christian texts on African religion that make a monotheistic God central to African beliefs]. There are certainly some peoples with either no conception of a supreme God or one so limited as to be effectively otiose (Achloli, Lango, Lovedu, Nyakyusa, Swazi, Zande; Jok). These are significant exceptions. [...] More characteristic is a pattern of intermediaries - ancestors or nature gods - to which most ritual and prayer are immediately directed.”
“In most although not all African religions (among exceptions are the Masai, Nuer, and Tiv) ancestors play a major role. [... They] are seen as elders, named and approached in much the same way as the most senior of living elders; yet they have additional mystical powers. [...] In more God-conscious societies ancestors may be approached simply as intermediaries to God, but where ritual, petition and sacrifice are regularly directed to ancestral spirits with little or no reference to God, it seems linguistically perverse to deny that this is worship - a word itself admitting a range of meaning. [...] In some west African societies (for example, Benin and the Ibo) ancestor veneration is combined with belief in their reincarnation in descendants.”
Wars Between Believers: Some in the West argue against non-believers, stating that religion is required for morals. Guy Harrison provides a counter-argument:
“There are very few atheists in sub-Saharan Africa yet that region is plagued with numerous wars decade after decade. Who can be blamed but believers?”
There are too many examples to go into details. "Chad has experienced some tensions between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims, Guinea has strong social pressure discouraging conversion from Islam, Mali experienced violence in 2003 between traditional Sunni practitioners and Wahhabi Sunnis, and Niger similarly saw mainstream Sunni youths demonstrating against the Wahhabist Izalay sect.20 [...] The most lethal religion-related armed conflict in recent decades occurred during the Sudanese civil war, which resulted in more than six million people being killed or displaced between 1989 and 2005. Religion played a central role in splitting the country into warring sides, primarily pitting government forces from the Muslim-majority north against an array of opposition forces from the south, which is largely Christian"21. Although, because of the prevalence of Sufi Islam (a kinder branch of Islam), sub-Saharan Africa does better.
“According to religion demographers David Barett and Todd Johnson, Christians numbered 10 million in 1900 and 30 million in 1945, but then jumped to 144 million by 1970 and further to 411 million by 2005. Africa's most dramatic Christian growth, in other words, occurred after decolonization. [...] The most important driver and beneficiary of Protestantism's demographic expansion across the global South has clearly been evangelicalism - particularly, in recent years, in its Pentecostal expressions.”
Timothy Samuel Shah (2008)23 p. x.
Much of this rise has not been in the spirit of a healthy competition of ideas, wherein the religion that best makes sense grows in numbers. Organized and wealthy Christian evangelists have used their power and resources to systematically undermine and diminish African religion. Anthropologist Terence O. Ranger writes that "evangelicals of all kinds 'demonize' African religion and seek to expel it both from the private and the public sphere"24, and quotes Mutna (1999):
“The modern African state, right from its inception, has relentlessly engaged in a campaign of the marginalization, at best, or eradication, at worst, of African religion... The destruction and delegitimation of African religion have been actively effected at the urging or with the collusion and for the benefit of, either or both Islam and Christianity... [T]he conscious, willful and planned displacement of African religion goes beyond and legitimate bounds of religious advocacy and violates the human rights of Africans:... it is in fact a repudiation... of the humanity of African culture.”
Mutna (1999), 170.
With wealth comes power and influence, over both religion and government. In several countries "freedom of religion" has been enshrined into law, not to protect African religion, but to ensure the easy spread of evangelical churches - and Muslim outreach churches do exactly the same in countries where they have a foothold. "Mutua, an academic lawyer, shows that the constitutions of independent African states - Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Congo, etc. - guarantee 'liberal generic protection of religious freedoms.' But these are defined in such a way that they refer exclusively to Islam and Christianity"24.
As such, Timothy S. Shah, senior research scholar at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, warns about "numerous instances" of Christian communities supporting any party, no matter how vile if it happens to further the interests of their own community.
“It is also true that the contributors document numerous instances in which evangelical leaders and their constituencies have been all too willing to offer their fervent prayers and praise for dictators they deem 'godly' - a designation dictators usually earn by their adoption of biblical rhetoric and sponsorship of religious functions, particularly the ubiquitous evangelical crusade. In so doing, some evangelicals reproduce and indeed reinforce the corrupt clientelist politics rife in the region.”
Timothy Samuel Shah (2008)23 p. xii-xiii.
Current edition: 2013 Nov 06
Last Modified: 2017 Apr 06
Parent page: Compare International Statistics by Region and Continent
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The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.
(2018) "What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" (2018). Accessed 2018 Aug 22.
(2009) Religiosity. gallup.com/poll/142727/.... The survey question was "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" and results are charted for those who said "yes". 1000 adults were polled in each of 114 countries.
Grim & Finke. Dr Grim is senior researcher in religion and world affairs at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, USA. Finke is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
(2011) The Price of Freedom Denied. Subtitled: "Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century". Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by Cambridge University Press, UK. An e-book.
Hinnells, John R.. Currently professor of theology at Liverpool Hope University.
(1997, Ed.) The Penguin Dictionary of Religions. Originally published 1984. Current version published by Penguin Books, London, UK. References to this book simply state the title of the entry used. A paperback book.
Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg
(2009) Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations. Richard Lynn, John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg. Published in Intelligence (2009 Jan/Feb) vol. 37 issue 1 pages 11-15. Online at www.sciencedirect.com, accessed 2009 Sep 15.
Mutua, Makau W.
(1999) "Returning to My Roots: African 'Religions' and the State" in Proselytization and Communal Self-Determination in Africa, ed. Abdullahi An-Na'im, 169-190. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books. Terence O. Ranger (2008)1 p30.
Pew Forum. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
(2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Published 2012 Dec 18, accessed online 2013 May 01.
Terence O. Ranger
(2008, Ed.) Evangelical Christianity And Democracy in Africa. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Part of the series of books on Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in the Global South (series editor Timothy Samuel Shah).
(2013) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Available on hdr.undp.org/... UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
(2017) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. Data for 2015. Available on hdr.undp.org/.