FSI score: 114.3 (out of 120)
Somalia has topped the Failed States Index for the last three years -- a testament not only to the depth of the country's long-running political and humanitarian disaster, but also, as James Traub writes, to the international community's inability to find an answer. After two decades of chaos, the country is today largely under the control of Islamist militant groups, the most notorious and powerful of which is al-Shabab. A second faction, Hizbul Islam, rivals the former in brutality -- it recently executed two Somalis for the crime of watching the World Cup. Off the coast, pirates such as the men pictured here torment passing ships, often holding them hostage for a high price. In 2009, Somali pirates earned an estimated $89 million in ransom payments.
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