Introduction

The Freedom in the World 2008 survey contains reports on 193 countries and 15 related and disputed territories. Each country report begins with a section containing the following information: population, capital, political rights (numerical rating), civil liberties (numerical rating), status (Free, Partly Free, or Not Free), and a ten-year ratings timeline. (Beginning this year, data on gross national income per capita [GNI/capita], life expectancy, religious groups, and ethnic groups are no longer included in this section). Each territory report begins with a section containing the same information, except for capital. The population figures are drawn primarily from the 2007 World Population Data Sheet of the Population Reference Bureau.

The political rights and civil liberties categories contain numerical ratings between 1 and 7 for each country or territory, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free. The status designation of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free, which is determined by the combination of the political rights and civil liberties ratings, indicates the general state of freedom in a country or territory. The ratings of countries or territories that have improved or declined since the previous survey are indicated by notations next to the ratings. Positive or negative trends that do not warrant a ratings change since the previous year may be indicated by upward or downward trend arrows, which are located next to the name of the country or territory. A brief explanation of ratings changes or trend arrows is provided for each country or territory as required. For a full description of the methods used to determine the survey’s ratings, please see the chapter on the survey’s methodology.

The ten-year ratings timeline lists the political rights and civil liberties ratings and status for each of the last 10 years. Each year that is included in the timeline refers to the year under review, not the edition of the survey. Thus, the ratings and status from the Freedom in the World 2008 edition are listed under “2007” (the year that was under review for the 2008 survey edition).

Following the section described above, each country and territory report is divided into two parts: an overview and an analysis of political rights and civil liberties. The overview provides a brief historical background and a description of major recent events. The political rights and civil liberties section summarizes each country or territory’s degree of respect for the rights and liberties that Freedom House uses to evaluate freedom in the world.