If anything has become clear since we started publishing the Failed States Index in 2005, it’s that state failure is an entrenched problem -- one the world is far from figuring out how to fix. Every one of the 20 countries atop this year’s index has been there before: Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Iraq have never made it out of the top 10, and Somalia takes the unwanted No. 1 spot for the fifth straight year. But despite an overall trend of stagnation -- the average score on the index, prepared by the Fund for Peace and published annually by Foreign Policy, has remained more or less steady from year to year -- the 2011 Arab revolutions prove that dramatic change is still a possibility, if not a guarantee of progress. The biggest shifts in this year’s index were registered by Libya, Syria, and Egypt -- all three countries jumped markedly higher on the list, a reminder that although revolutions may weaken or topple dictators, they can also provoke greater instability. But there are gains being made as well: Mogadishu is in the midst of its longest period of relative peace in the past two decades. These gains may seem meager, but at the very least they suggest that, even when it comes to the worst cases of human misery, nothing is forever.

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  • The 2012 Failed States Index

    The 2012 Failed States Index

  • Postcards From Hell, 2012

    Photos: Postcards From Hell 2012

  • The Worst of the Worst

    The Worst of the Worst

  • Why States Fail

    10 Reasons Why States Fail
    By Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

  • Was the Arab Spring Worth It?

    Was the Arab Spring Worth It?
    By Hussein Ibish

  • A Bridge to Nowhere

    The Watch List
    By Jay Ulfelder

  • What's Wrong with Pakistan?

    What's Wrong with Pakistan?
    By Robert D. Kaplan

  • Kaplan's 8 Geographical Pivot Points

  • Are All States Failing States?

    Are All States Failing States?
    By David Rothkopf

  • It’s Lonely Being No. 1
    By Paul Collier

  • How to Help Somalia
    By Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole

  • Failed States by the Numbers: How Bad Are They?

  • Change Is the Only Constant
    J.J. Messner

  • Flirting with Disaster
    By Patricia Taft

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