WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- Despite extremely high levels of ongoing insurgent violence, Iraq is only the world's 22nd most unstable country, according to a new index from Jane's.
Jane's Country Risk Ratings assesses the stability of all 235 nations, territories and other political entities in the world on a special index. It ranks Gaza and the West Bank as the most unstable place on Earth, with Afghanistan and Haiti also in the Top 10. The other seven, including Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Somalia, are all in Africa.
"When you take into account the multiple factors that contribute to stability, Iraq rates better than some might expect," Christian Le Miere, managing editor for the service, said in a statement.
The index measures 24 factors across five fundamental categories -- political, social, economic, external and military and security, said the statement.
"Despite obvious problems, its government is relatively secure and maintains control over large areas of its territory, its economy is more or less resilient and the population remains relatively healthy," Le Miere said of Iraq.
Afghanistan's weak central government, unable to effectively control its territory, gets that country the third-most unstable ranking, despite the fact that it suffers from far less daily violence than Iraq. "Afghanistan's rampant drug production, with one half of Afghanistan's economy based on opium, lack of governmental monopoly of violence and prevalent availability of small arms all exacerbate the country's instability," said the statement.
The number of African nations topping the rankings was the result of "a variety of contributing risk factors that are common across much of the continent," said the statement, including artificial borders; poor governance and stunted economies; ethnic, linguistic and racial competition; historical and ongoing conflicts; and the widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
The most stable entity is Vatican City, followed by Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, San Marino, Lichtenstein and Britain.
The United States is the 22nd most stable, behind most of Europe and several of the Gulf states. "That may surprise some people, but the Gulf states have quite stable governments and strong economies due to their oil wealth," said Le Miere.