Dec 30, 2019

The world is less free than a decade ago

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Data: Freedom House; Map: Axios Visuals

A decade ago, Freedom House warned of an emerging trend: Freedom had declined around the world for three consecutive years after a prolonged period of democratization.

The state of play: That decline has continued every year since.

  • Countries like Indonesia, Hungary and Mali that were considered "free" in 2009 are now "partly free," while the likes of Nicaragua, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela have joined the ranks of the "not free."

The big picture: The general trend is troubling.

  • Internet freedom is in decline around the world as governments increasingly use social media to monitor their citizens and spread disinformation. Countries from India to Iran to Zimbabwe shut down the internet this year to combat protests.
  • Press freedom is also under threat, with Hungary, Serbia, Israel and India singled out for worrying steps.

The other side: There have been some improvements, including Ivory Coast (now "partly free") and Senegal (now "free"), while Tunisia has climbed furthest ("not free" to "free") as the lone democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring.

  • Several countries have recently shown positive steps toward increased freedom, including Armenia, Malaysia, Ethiopia and Ecuador.

Go deeper: The decade of the very poor and super rich

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The countries where happiness and misery are growing

The world's happiest countries do this a lot. Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images

It's hardly surprising that Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland top the UN's latest World Happiness report. Nordic countries always dominate such lists.

But, but, but: Some countries became much happier, and others much less happy, over the past decade. Overall, happiness increased between 2008 and 2018 in 78 of the 132 countries in the rankings (based on "how happy citizens perceive themselves to be").

Go deeperArrowDec 30, 2019

Amazon's $1 billion bet on Indian e-commerce

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With a new $1 billion investment, Amazon is doubling down on its India bet.

The big picture: India has the world's fastest growing e-commerce market, and retail giants from America and China are battling each other as well as homegrown Indian rivals to dominate it.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020

Wikipedia returns to Turkey after lengthy government ban

Erdogan takes a break from updating his Wikipedia profile to catch some wrestling. Photo: Yasin Bulbul/Turkish Presidency Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Wikipedia is returning to Turkey after the country's supreme court ruled that banning it violated freedom of expression.

The big picture: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government has a long history of blocking information it doesn't like. It has jailed dozens of journalists, and in this case, it went so far as to block one of the world's most-visited sites for nearly three years.

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020