In some countries, business owners can go their way in the happy knowledge that government officials won't be hitting them up for bribes or tossing them in jail on trumped-up charges. But in other parts of the world, public sector corruption is a fact of life.
Hoping to shine a light on this widespread problem, Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation that serves as a watchdog for corporate and political corruption, has published its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013.
The index ranks countries around the world by perceived level of government corruption, with a score of 100 signaling an absence of official corruption and a score of 0 indicating a country that is hopelessly corrupt.
Of the 177 countries and territories listed on the index, less than one-third managed to break 50. As No. 127 Nicaragua would say, that's no bueno. So in what countries can you trust public officials and what places should you avoid?
To start, the Nordic countries are a safe bet for business, with Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway all among the least corrupt nations. Rounding out the top five are New Zealand, tied for first with Denmark with a score of 91, and Singapore, tied with Norway for No. 5.
Here are the 10 least corrupt countries in the world, according to the index:
2.New Zealand (tied with Denmark for No. 1)
4.Sweden (tied with Finland for No. 3)
6.Singapore (tied with Norway for No. 5)
10.Canada (tied with Australia for No. 9)
Next page: What of the United States? And the most corrupt countries in the world