Which country has most economic freedom?
January 10, 2013 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Hong Kong was rated the freest economy in the world.
- Conservative think tank Heritage Foundation ranks Hong Kong the freest economy in the world
- Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland round out top five; the U.S. is ranked 10th
- North Korea, Cuba and Zimbabwe ranked the lowest of 177 countries in the 2013 index
- Countries ranked on rule of law, regulatory efficiency, limited government and open markets
(CNN) -- For the 19th year in a row, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative American think tank, has ranked the city of Hong Kong the freest economy in the world.
Singapore was a close second, however, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Switzerland was ranked fifth. The U.S., which has the world's largest economy, was ranked 10th while mainland China -- the world's second largest economy -- was ranked 136th out of 177 economies on the Index of Economic Freedom, a publication co-sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.
However, the editors of the index noted that the global average, which peaked in 2008, has been in decline. "The global advance toward economic freedom has ground to a halt," the index editors said in a new release.
"In the post-Arab Spring Middle East, some democratically elected governments are adopting totalitarian practices reminiscent of revolutionary Iran or the Taliban," Terry Miller, a director at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "Economic freedom can't flourish under the arbitrary rule of authoritarians and despots, and it has declined significantly in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, among other countries."
The Index evaluates countries in four broad areas of economic freedom: rule of law, regulatory efficiency, limited government and open markets.
The Most Free Economies 2013
1. Hong Kong
4. New Zealand
10. United States
"Almost all of the most advanced countries lost ground this year," Miller wrote. "Even top-ranked Hong Kong saw its score decline due to increased government spending and higher inflation. The United States, ranked only 10th most free in the world this year, joins Ireland as the only advanced economies to have lost economic freedom five years in a row."
While the aggregate global index declined, the scores improved for 91 countries worldwide and decline for 78, the report noted.
The Least Free Economies 2013
170. Equatorial Guinea
172. Myanmar (Burma)
177. North Korea
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.