Liberalism is an incredible broad term which can refer to many different aspects of a country’s philosophy. What it means to be liberal is shrouded in ambiguity since it means different things to different people; for example, some might consider a lawless society to liberal, while others believe that economic freedom and social mobility are the markers of a liberal state.
Whatever liberalism means to you, there is some degree of parity in discussion about the most liberal countries in the world, with many arriving at the conclusion that Scandinavian countries are among the world’s most liberal. Here are some examples of countries which are universally regarded as ‘liberal’
A controversial starting point for sure, Middle Eastern countries are highly religious and have strict laws on things like public displays of affection and alcohol consumption which are both parts of everyday life in the West. For this reason, many wouldn’t call countries like Saudi Arabia ‘liberal’, however the freedom from paying tax is considered by others as the highest form of economic freedom, meaning Saudi Arabia is incredibly popular with Ex-pats and deserves a place in this list.
No list of liberal countries would be complete without the Netherlands, the first place that would cross many people’s lips when quizzed on the subject. The Netherlands is very well known for its social liberalism and is defined among its European cousins for its relaxed attitude towards drugs, sex and prostitution. In fact this liberal attitude is one of the reasons the capital, Amsterdam is such a popular tourist destination!
As mentioned, all Scandinavian countries can be considered liberal, but Sweden possibly edges ahead due to it’s religious profiling. In a study carried out by Time magazine in 2007, it was discovered that Sweden is in fact the least religious country in the world(Denmark, Norway and Finland also feature in the top ten). The study found that less religious states had low homicide levels, low illiteracy rates, low infant mortality rates and low poverty rates. Sweden is no exception.
Canada is regularly listed as one of the best places to live in the world and its cities, most notably Vancouver are universally praised for their cleanliness and safety. It is in part the country’s liberal attitudes that lead many to claim that it is ‘less intense’ version of its neighbour to the south, the USA.
The same thing that makes Somalia one of the most dangerous countries in the world, is the same thing that makes it one of the most liberal; it is a lawless state. This has made piracy rife in the country, and turned it into a multi-million dollar industry that means some of the country’s most notorious criminals are free to live opulent lifestyles. A treacherous place to visit, but undeniably liberal.