WELLINGTON, New Zealand | COPENHAGEN, Denmark - New Zealand and Denmark have jointly been awarded the least corrupt countries in the world.
Both countries scored 87 out of a potential 100 points. They beat 178 other countries in the process.
The news has been welcomed by governments in both countries.
Scandinavian countries, like New Zealand with small populations, took out three of the top 4 spots.
The Corruption Perceptions Index is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.
The index scores and ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country's public sector is perceived to be by experts and business executives.
The most perceived corrupt countries in the world are Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela.
In the Middle East, the UAE and Qatar are the stand-outs, while Israel is well down the list at 35th., a touch below last year's ranking of 34. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself is currently facing corruption charges, but is seeking immunity from prosecution.
Corruption costs the world a trillion dollars or 2% of GDP a year.
The top 10 least corrupt countries in the latest publication are:
It is notable that the top five on the list have some of the smallest populations. Additionally, the countries at the bottom of the list such as Syria, South Sudan and Somalia are also housing small populations, but in those cases, each country is being ravaged by wars and political instability. The counties with the world's largest populations, China, and India are ranked 77 and 81 respectively.
"New Zealanders can be proud that our reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world has been restored," Justice Minister Andrew Little said Thursday.
"Since coming to office, this government has launched a public information campaign to raise awareness about the problem of money laundering by domestic and foreign criminals here in New Zealand called Keep Our Money Clean."
"We've strengthened New Zealand's democracy by making several important amendments to our electoral law, including making it easier for New Zealanders to enrol and vote," he said.
"Most recently we have banned foreign donations, sending a clear signal that foreign interference in our democracy is not welcome."
"This Coalition Government has a proven track record on protecting the integrity of our electoral system, and I'm pleased this has been reflected in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index," the justice minister said.