The Most Liberal Countries in the World

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.

Most Liberal Countries in the World
Most Liberal Countries in the WorldMehrad.HM / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

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’

Saudi Arabia

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.

The Netherlands

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!

Sweden

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

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.

Somalia

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.

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13 Responses

  1. johnson February 15, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    USA is pretty liberal also

    • Sampson March 27, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      You are joking right? USA?!

    • Oh, Canada April 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      You are joking, right? We have 5% of the world’s population, yet we have 25% of the world’s prison population. We incarcerate people for long periods for things like cannabis possession. Heck, until recently, gay sex was actually illegal!

    • liberal April 4, 2013 at 6:25 am #

      the usa is fairly conservative buddy.

    • sparky April 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Yes, the US is liberal, if you have no global perspective.

  2. Dick Brown October 5, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Saudi Arabia? Muslim made this list?
    No kissing in public, no alcohol, no food on ramadan, womans in stupid clothes and etc.
    In Sweden are highest tax rates, but country is 1000 times more liberal.
    And Somali???
    Because Somali pirates attack ships?

    • Mari December 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Did you not read the whole thing? Saudi Arabia is not liberal SOCIALLY but economically it certainly is. And the title of this article is not “the most socially liberal countries in the world.

  3. ????????? November 15, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    the usa is fairly conservative buddy.

  4. NUNYABIZNUZ December 27, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    Throw a rock in the air in US and you’ll hit someone offended by something. World’s capital of whiners.

  5. eya January 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    why all the baddest thing on arab countries why you won’t understand that i can’t take this anymore it’s too much please do some respect to us as much as we does to you . sorry if i’m bad in english and by the way i’m veryyyyyyyyyyy happy that saudi arabic take a place in the most liberal countries and i hope that usa does it too

  6. Harper January 27, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Sweden is FAR from Liberal! Unless you live here you are only looking at the surface and not what is really happening. Swedes are taught at a very young age (daycare) that you must act alike, dress alike, and think alike. They force Christianity in the schools no matter what your religious views are. And poverty, oh there is so much poverty here, there are no jobs bur Swedes hide this and Sweep it under the rug. The list of problems here in Sweden is long, it is that most Swedes like to ignore it or pretend it never happened for fear of looking bad, the ego is very important to a Swede, I know I am Swedish.

    Don’t fall for this article, they only touch the surface by stating what Swedes brag about but what isn’t the truth, the real reality.

    • Tommy February 15, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

      Harper – I really doubt that you are from Sweden because I am, and what you say about Sweden isn’t even close to the truth. For example, you say that we force Christianity in school but that is ridiculous. It’s illegal to promote ANY religion in the schools. State and church are totally separated! At least 85% of the population are atheists and you should know that if you were really from here. In Sweden we don’t have any school uniforms and you can dress however the fuck want to dress. If you had ever been here, you’d see that.

      So much poverty? I bet you can’t even name a few countries with less poverty than Sweden. You can’t be for real if you think there is a lot of poverty in Sweden.

      • Shirin March 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

        Thanks for the facts on Sweden Tommy. I have lived for 1.5 years in Sweden, but I was only 11 years old, so unfortunately I can’t really comment on life, but I do remember that they were taking really good care of immigrants at that time (in the early 90s when I lived there.)

        Anyway, very interesting read. Have a great weekend all!
        If anybody finds any articles on countries that are the most liberal (meaning they are very tolerant to people of different religions, cultures and ethnicities) please let me know, as I’d love to read an article like that.

        Thanks!

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