The east African nation of Somalia tops Transparency International’s list of most corrupt countries in the world, and Sudan, Chad, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea are among the top ten.

Forbes’ senior editor Daniel Fisher said “beleaguered” Somalia topped the list because it “has become a capital for piracy and terrorism with little capacity for any government at all, let alone an honest one.” As reassurance to distraught Americans, he wrote in an article, “Take a breath. At least we’re not Somalia,” calling the country a “war-torn disaster of a nation.”

TI, a global civil organization against corruption, released the “Corruption Perceptions Index 2010” Oct. 27. The list rates 178 countries using a 10-point ranking system, where a score of “0” represents a highly corrupt nation and a “10” signifies a “very clean” one. Somalia received a score of 1.1.

The group defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” TI based their findings on assessments and business opinion surveys that revealed the perceptions of corruption in the private and public sectors of each country. Individuals were asked questions regarding administrative and political aspects of their nation including the bribery of public officials and embezzlement of public funds.

Ethics violations, civil wars, and conflicts over oil developments were the leading causes for corruption in the other four African nations that bottomed out the list. Chad was ranked 1.7, Sudan received a 1.6, Burundi scored a1.8, and Equatorial Guinea had a 1.9.

All African nations were ranked below the 6-point mark; Botswana had the highest on the continent with a 5.8. The list included Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark were tied for the least corrupt countries; each received a score of 9.3. The United States earned a score of 7.1 and ranked among the top 25 safest nations.