Infographic: What is the World's Most Powerful Passport?
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What is the World’s Most Powerful Passport?

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What is the World's Most Powerful Passport?

The World’s Most Powerful Passports

Which passports are travel assets, and which are liabilities?

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Whether you seek to explore distant lands, or you just want to sit on a remote island beach with a margarita, your passport can be your biggest travel asset. The right document grants you visa-free access to over 150+ countries, and makes applying for entry to the other places a short and easy afterthought.

But a passport can also be your biggest liability. Having a passport from the wrong place means travel is extremely restricted to just a few countries – and these are generally not the places travelers want to go, anyways.

Even worse, passports on the lower end of the spectrum are also heavily scrutinized at entry-points around the world. If you have a document from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, or several other countries, there may be many hoops for you to jump through to get to your final destination.

The Most Powerful Passport

According to the Passport Index, the distinction for the world’s most powerful passport actually ends up as a tie between Germany and Singapore. Both have unparalleled access to visa-free entries, each with a list of 159 countries that citizens can go to without any hassles.

Like Germany, most other Western European nations do similarly well in the visa-free department:

Global Passport RankCountryNumber of Countries (Visa-Free)
#1 (tie)Germany159
#2 (tie)Sweden158
#3 (tie)Denmark157
#3 (tie)Finland157
#3 (tie)Italy157
#3 (tie)France157
#3 (tie)Spain157
#3 (tie)Norway157
#3 (tie)United Kingdom157

In Asia, however, things are quite different. After Singapore and a few other countries (Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia), things drop off faster.

Global Passport RankCountryNumber of Countries (Visa-Free)
#1 (tie)Singapore159
#2 (tie)South Korea158
#3 (tie)Japan157
#5 (tie)Malaysia155
#16Hong Kong142
#18Israel138
#19 (tie)Brunei136
#24UAE128
#30Taiwan121

Further down the list in Asia, citizens of certain countries find themselves in even a tougher place, especially if they reside in the Middle East. Countries like Afghanistan (22), Pakistan (25), Iraq (26), Syria (30), and Bangladesh (35) have some of the shortest lists of visa-free countries that citizens have access to.

North America

In North America, the United States and Canada both have powerful passports with 157 and 155 visa-free options respectively.

However, they differ in a few key areas. Americans have visa-free access to Armenia, Equatorial Guinea, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Central African Republic, while Canadians have visa-free access to Bolivia, Venezuela, and Gambia.

Don’t Own These Passports…

We alluded earlier to the fact that a passport can also be a traveler’s biggest liability.

Here are some of the countries that you would likely not want to have a passport from:

Global Passport RankCountryNumber of Countries (Visa-Free)
#89 (tie)Sri Lanka36
#89 (tie)Nepal36
#89 (tie)Iran36
#89 (tie)Yemen36
#89 (tie)Sudan36
#90Bangladesh35
#91Somalia33
#92Syria30
#93Iraq26
#94Pakistan25
#95Afghanistan22
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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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