These are the world’s most fragile states in 2019

Yemen leads the list of the most fragile nations, with the U.S. and U.K. among the "most worsened."

There are some rankings no nation wants to lead.


Yemen has just been named most fragile nation in the Fund For Peace's 2019 Fragile States Index. The least fragile state is Finland.


Between these two countries lies the whole spectrum of national stability. The good news is that conditions for most of the world's people are slowly improving, says JJ Messner, Executive Director of the Fund for Peace. "For all the negative press, there is significant progress occuring in the background," he says.

The five most fragile countries, which comprise the index's Very High Alert category, are Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the High Alert category are the Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Image: Fragile States Index

"Most worsened"

Venezuela and Brazil tied for the title of the Most Worsened Country. Politics have riven both nations. Venezuela's election last year compounded long-standing economic and social woes. Brazil's score has declined in each of the past six years as economic troubles, corruption and declining public services have taken their toll.


Image: Fragile States Index

Other nations whose rankings fell steeply in the 2019 list were Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Togo, Cameroon, Poland, Mali, Yemen, Tanzania, Honduras and the United States. Libya, Syria, Mali, Yemen, Venezuela, and Mozambique were the fastest declining countries of the past decade.

Any UK citizens alarmed at seeing their nation ranked as the fourth most-worsened will find that three of the 12 indicators used to compile the index were largely behind the low score: the behaviour of ruling elites, social divisions and state legitimacy.

The authors point to the influence of Brexit as a factor. But they say that long-term worsening of the UK's score predates the country's referendum on membership of the European Union. Even before 2016, the authors say the UK had the seventh worst trend for the same three indicators, and suggest the country's problems are deep-rooted and unlikely to be solved by leaving the EU.

The US made it into the Most Worsened category thanks to poor scores in the same categories as the UK plus a sliding score on human rights and respect for the law, in part reflecting political divisions, legal controversies and the issue of immigration.

The report's authors also detect the stirrings of a second Arab Spring in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. They say economic, social and political factors that harmed these countries' index rankings before popular uprisings in North Africa are rising in significance.

Hope for the future

But the global picture isn't entirely bleak. Cuba and Georgia tied as the most-improved countries in the index over the past decade. Mauritius became the first African nation to achieve status as Very Stable, while Singapore was the first Asian nation to enter the Sustainable category, joining the likes of New Zealand, Sweden and Luxembourg.

Progress in Africa was reflected by Botswana and the Seychelles joining the Stable category.

Messner says: "Certainly, there is still much conflict, poverty, and inequality in the world. But the data suggests that the majority of countries are incrementally making improvements, providing a more hopeful future for their people."

The index's 12 categories, against which nations are measured are: security situation and responses; behaviour of ruling elites; social divisions; economic performance; economic inequality; emigration; state legitimacy; public services, human rights and the rule of law; demographic pressures; refugees; external intervention.

Reprinted with permission of World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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