Think tank The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have ranked Hong Kong first on their 2011 Index of World Economic Freedom for the 17th year in a row, based on criteria in 179 countries such as economic openness, trade, rule of law and efficiency of domestic regulators.

Close behind in second place was Singapore, while Australia and New Zealand came in third and fourth respectively. The report said that while the global average had increased since the 2010 report, regions like sub-Saharan Africa had shown the most improvement while economic freedoms had remained steady in Europe and actually slipped in North America.

Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, Denmark the USA and Bahrain made up the remainder of the top 10. Mainland China came in at 135th, and Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea were unsurprising finishers at the bottom.

source & article: AFP via Channel NewsAsia