Corruption in nearly half the world's nations is not getting much better but "a few, most notably India, managed to bootstrap themselves (just barely) out of the truly corrupt group," according to Forbes.
While a year ago, some 72 out of 158 nations surveyed by the international watchdog group Transparency International (TI) were classified as "corrupt," now 74 of 163 countries fall into the same category, the US business magazine reported.
"A few, most notably India, managed to bootstrap themselves (just barely) out of the truly corrupt group, while others, particularly Iran, dug themselves more firmly into that camp," it said.
Forbes' list of the most corrupt countries in the world is based on an index from 0 to 10 comprised of surveys of specialists, opinion leaders, business officials and human rights monitors who live, work or travel extensively in each of the countries ranked.
The higher the score, the less corrupt the country. Tied for No 1 this year, with a "score" of 9.6, are Finland, Iceland and New Zealand.
At the bottom, with a score of 1.8 is Haiti followed by Myanmar (2), Iraq (3), Guinea (Conakry) (4), Sudan (5), Democratic Republic Congo/Kinshasa (6), Chad (7), Bangladesh (8), Uzbekistan (9) and Equatorial Guinea (10).
Below 5, there are 119 countries out of 163, including such nations as Italy, Greece, South Africa, Brazil and China. Below 3 on the TI scale, some 47 nations drop off, though many are very close to the line.
Among the least corrupt nations, the United States has slipped to No 20 this year from No 17 last year, while France, Belgium, Ireland and Japan leap-frogged over the US in the rankings.
The top 10 - the world's least corrupt countries - has remained virtually unchanged with Finland, Iceland and New Zealand tied for the lead, followed closely by Denmark, Singapore and Sweden.