Introduction | Freedom House

Introduction

Read a Country or a Territory Report

The Freedom in the World 1999-2000 survey contains 192 country and 16 related and disputed territory reports.  Each report includes basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities (PPP), life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights [numerical rating], civil liberties [numerical rating], and status [Free, Partly Free, or Not Free].  For countries or territories which received a numerical ratings change or trend arrow this year, a brief explanatory sentence is included.  An explanation of the methods used to determine the Survey’s ratings is contained in the chapter on methodology.

The polity category contains an encapsulated description of the dominant centers of freely chosen or unelected political power in each country or territory.  Most of the descriptions are self-explanatory, such as Communist one-party for China or parliamentary democracy for Ireland.  Such non-parliamentary democracies as the United States of America are designated as presidential-legislative democracies.  European democratic countries with constitutional monarchs are designated as parliamentary democracies, because the elected body is the center of most real political power.  Only countries with powerful monarchs (e.g., the Sultan of Brunei) warrant a reference to the monarchy in the polity description.  Dominant-party polities are systems in which the ruling party (or front) dominates the government, but allows other parties to organize or compete short of taking control of the government.  Other types of polities include various military or military-influenced or dominated regimes, transitional systems, and several unique polities, such as Iran’s clergy-dominated presidential-parliamentary system.  Countries with genuine federalism contain the word “federal” in their polity description.

The reports contain a brief description of the economy of each country or territory.  Non-industrial economies are called traditional or pre-industrial.  Developed market economies and Third World economies with a modern market sector have the designation capitalist.  Mixed capitalist countries combine private enterprise with substantial government involvement in the economy for social welfare purposes.  Capitalist-statist economies have both large market sectors and government-owned productive enterprises, due either to elitist economic policies or state dependence on key natural resource industries.  Mixed capitalist-statist economies have the characteristics of capitalist-statist economies, as well as major social welfare programs.  Statist economies have the goal of placing the entire economy under direct or indirect government control.  Mixed statist economies are primarily government-controlled, but also have significant private enterprise.  Developing Third World economies with a government-directed modern sector belong in the statist category.  Economies in transition between statist and capitalist forms may have the word “transitional” in their economy description.

The population and life expectancy figures were obtained from the “1999 World Population Data Sheet” of the Population Reference Bureau. 

The purchasing power parities (PPP)  show per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of international dollars in order to account for real buying power.  These figures were obtained from the 1999 United Nations Development Program Human Development Report.  However, for some countries, especially tiny island countries, this information was not available.

Information about the ethnic groups in a country or territory is provided in order to assist with the understanding of certain issues, including minority rights, addressed by the Survey.  Sources used to obtain this information included The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1999 and the CIA 1999 World Factbook.

The political rights and civil liberties categories contain numerical ratings between 1 and 7 for each country or territory rated, 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 which have improved or declined since the previous survey are indicated by upward or downward arrows, respectively.  Positive or negative trends which 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.

Following the section on political, economic, and social data, each country 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 current political events.  The political rights and civil liberties section summarizes each country or territory’s degree of respect for the rights and liberties which Freedom House uses to evaluate freedom in the world. 

Reports on related and disputed territories follow the country reports.  In most cases, these reports are comparatively brief and contain fewer categories of information than do the country essays.  In this year’s Survey, reports are included for 16 related and disputed territories, although ratings are provided for all 60 territories.