5 Most Libertarian Countries – What is the most libertarian country?

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March 4, 2013 by Liberty

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While searching the world for the most libertarian countries, you’re going to want to look for a number of different factors. There is no great way to rank countries based on their amount of freedom and there is no massive front runner. One of the most striking things about this list is how low America is compared to a number of other countries that you may not have considered. To figure out what the most libertarian country is, you have to make some sacrifices in certain areas of freedom. (I’ll be going over this more in the last part of this 3 part series on libertarian locales.) Most areas are strong in certain freedoms but weak in other areas. That makes this a very subjective consideration.

Ultimately, this list is based on the size of government, the taxation of that government, the freedoms it provides economically, and the freedoms they provide socially.

5. New Zealand

Beautiful New Zealand is a place that anyone would love to go. It’s picturesque oceanic views are often some of the most dreamed about landscapes in the world. It’s also the kind of place that is comfortable to live.

New Zealand is one of the most socially free countries in the world. It provides more freedom for it’s citizens than America. Economically speaking it’s just as free. While hit hard by the global economic crisis, it looks as though the economy is right on track to keep growing fast. Government taxation is definitely one of the major problems in this country.

4. United States

Known for its history of freedom loving, the discussion around this country has been quite surprising. This may be the most controversial country in the top 5. While one of the freest countries in the world only a hundred or so years ago it’s dropped its ranks fast. Many freedom indexes don’t even include it in their top 5. It always tends to rank near the top of the most libertarian country list but it rarely gets as high as it does here.

The United States has one saving grace in our equation and that’s the sheer amount of space that the government has little actual control on. While the freedoms in many of the most populated cities around the country belong near the middle of the list of freest countries, there is a lot of area in the United States that’s rural and under little to know actual government control. That is to say, government may legally control, but it’s inability to do that provides freedoms that aren’t found in many places around the world.

3. Switzerland

You may recognize Switzerland from it’s rather consistent hands off policy for wars. It’s actually held a record of over 200 years without a war. That’s a rather impressive feat. That alone should give some credence to the amount of freedom it provides. Children not being sent to war very often is certainly a major benefit.

Switzerland receives most of it’s freedoms from a mass of decentralization. It’s social policy is as free as they come. It’s economic freedoms are top notch. Its government is a tad bit controlling but being an American, I can’t judge.

2. Canada

America’s neighbor to the north takes a small lead in the most libertarian countries in the world. This may come as a bit of a surprise to the American citizens because there is so little actually known about Canada’s freedom. After you start looking into the research you’ll be surprised.

While it has a medical system that might cause a few problems, the rest of its freedoms aren’t that bad. It really would be a wash with the United States if it wasn’t for government powers. The government of Canada is smaller than the United States and it takes less.

Naturally, it’s also benefiting severely from the mass of land syndrome. While rules may exist for every inch of it, most of the rules don’t actually get enforced on every inch. This points directly at what the next article in the series is going to talk about. I mention that solely to raise your interest ;)

And the top country on our list…

1. Ireland

Share a drink with me and toast the freest country in the world. This is a country that is as socially free as any country in the world. It’s government taxation is virtually nothing compared to many countries on this list. It has economic freedoms that could keep just about everyone satisfied. While not Hong Kong economically free, it’s a balance of social freedoms and economic freedoms that just about anyone would love to live.

Where does this list have it wrong?

Do you know any freer countries?

(Update: Hell… I’ve learned a lot since I wrote this article. If I wrote it today I’d knock a few off this list. You’ve gotta’ have some ideas.)

Most of this list is highly subjective. What’s the most important freedom for you? That’s really what it comes down to. If you’re socially conservative then perhaps Hong Kong may be your most libertarian country in the world. That’s the place that I’ll put on the top of the economic freedom list. For social freedoms, that’s a lot more difficult to find the most libertarian countries. Every country on this list provides social freedoms that are as up to date as we understand. Who do you think is most socially free?

In the last article I’m going to be going over what is the most important quality of finding a place to live free. It’s not all about finding the right place to lay your head to avoid the tax man. It’s also about something that’s much more important.

This is a part of the:

Libertarian Locales Series

Part 1: You’re already here!
5 Most Libertarian Countries

Part 2:
The Most Libertarian State In America

Part 3:
Libertarian Rights Don’t Come From Government
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35 thoughts on “5 Most Libertarian Countries – What is the most libertarian country?

  1. As an Irish person, I’m completely surprised to Ireland top the list. Ireland doesn’t have a libertarian movement to speak of and in many ways the government is larger than America. I would be really interested in hearing how the list was made.

    • I’m glad you mentioned that.First thing I should have mentioned in the article. Most libertarian is intended to be most appealing for libertarian ethics and philosophy. It could have no libertarians within it and still qualify if the standards of life were in life.

      Next I should add. This isn’t a professional team decided list. These are mine and a number of opinions based on the studying we’ve done on the subject so take our intelligence with a grain of salt. Being a citizen you can probably correct us more than we understand.

      The main factors considered economically were sound money, legal complexity, and amount of government. Socially is where opinions were important.

      In many aspects Ireland has more limitations than the US and many other countries. It also has a number of freedoms that the US government has done away with in recent years.

      As an Irish citizen, what’s your perception of the social freedoms in your country? I ask because with that in particular, number don’t do any practical good.

      • Well social freedom is quite a broad term that can mean a lot, but I’ll name a few. We have one of the strictest bans on abortion in Europe, to the point where no abortions are allowed in any case, even if the women’s life is in danger or after rape. We have civil unions for homosexuals which is pretty much gay marriage in everything but name. However, these are recent developments and Ireland was extremely conservative and socially restrictive as late as the 1980s. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993 and divorce was only legalised in 1996. The Catholic Church had enormous influence and its word carried huge weight, which is only being eroded recently.

        Guns are extremely restricted to the point of non-existent. Only farmers have guns and maybe the occasional hunter, but hunting is not in anyway a sport or popular. Even the police are unarmed, a system I think is the best.

        Taxes are some of the lowest in Europe and our business regulations were very light, two factors that enormously contributed to the financial crash which has hit Ireland extremely hard. The state would be definitely larger than America and provides far more services. For example, schools, hospitals etc are mostly publicly owned and few want to change it. Our currency is the Euro.

        I certainly wouldn’t consider Ireland a libertarian country by any stretch and the state does far more than in America but it depends on how you measure it.

      • Of course. It’s all based on how you look at it.

        One of the things I was most worried about was the social stigma’s. Naturally the laws could be gone, if the social stigma is still there and people react to certain things poorly then you’re certainly not free.

        The euro is really one the biggest concerns in my mind but then again, the US dollar is being crushed by inflation (according to previous measures not “modern” political measures) and debt. The only thing that seems to be holding up the US dollar is a whole lot of faith.

        Again though, it is how you measure it and having lived there, I’m sure you understand it a lot more thoroughly than I do.

      • Al says:

        Ireland use the Euro € as their currency which is directly controlled by a foreign power, the European Union, which is largely unaccountable.

        You may want to do some more research into that which may tweak your thoughts on that front.

    • Linda says:

      True libertarians recognize that abortion is taking away the liberty of another and do not consider abortion as a fundamental right. We can not have liberty when the freedoms and rights of the most innocent and needy are not treasured.

  2. drunkciclista says:

    I have personally heard great things about Uruguay. One of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, relaxed immigration policies, low tax rates, reasonable property costs, highly regarded justice systems, freedom of speech. Uruguay is the most secular nation in Latin America, and has the highest proportion of atheists/agnostics in Latin America at 17% (the United States is estimated to be only 6%!!!). Spanish and the local Spanish/Italian pidgin are the most popular languages, but English and formal Spanish are the languages of the professional world. Gay marriage was recently legalized. Abortion is legal up until 12 weeks (but legal after 12 in cases of rape or incest). Private gun ownership is legal but only with federal registration. Possession of drugs for personal consumption is legal, although intent to sell is punishable.

    I have not been there yet, but I personally feel like this sounds like a haven for freedom loving, yet practical people of the world.

    • I haven’t heard of Uruguay being great in particular but
      I’ve been learning a lot about a few Central American countries that are surprisingly free.
      Can’t say they seem like the best around but I’ve been thinking they might be a great alternative if the US is continuing down the same path.
      I’m going to look into Uruguay. Thanks!

      • Uruguay is great. I live in Punta del Este. I am a USA citizen and love my country and the principles for which it use to stand, but now she is having big problems and I needed a back up plan to protect my young family and a place I can make a difference in the world. That place is Uruguay. The people here may not be followers of Christ, but their actions are Christ like. It is worth the visit. It is a simple life, but still a very good one. Logic and self-control are valued here.

  3. Adlib says:

    I wouldn’t consider Canada and the US libertarian at all. In fact I believe that the libertarian movement in the US has intensified because the country has stray so far from its roots.
    Also, I think that Canada is better with individual freedom than the US. The tax rate is higher in Canada but I would rather pay a high tax rate than lose individual freedom.

    My Ranking is:

    1) Switzerland (By a huge margin…)
    .
    .
    .
    .
    2) Panama
    3) Uruguay
    4) Bermuda

  4. ericbl says:

    Canada has politically correct speech codes that can land you in jail if you say something the government doesn’t like. Freedom of speech has to be on top of the list of requirements for a “libertarian” country. Canada flunks

    • Adlib says:

      I think that’s overreaching. Canada has laws against inciting hate. Other than that, I’m not aware of anyone that hasn’t been put in jail for speaking their mind. The statement also has to be untrue for their to be a guilty verdict.

    • freedomtusks says:

      That is a good point, even if technically nobody is in jail yet, it leaves the door open to further and more broad interpretation to fit the views of the government. I agree freedom of speech is a must.

  5. freedomtusks says:

    I would say that the right to keep and bear arms is paramount, without an armed populace the government can force its will on the the people regardless of what they think. Freedom of speech is right there with it. Hell, I guess I am just fine with America. Freedom has a price though, and its easy to lose it, there must be a government framework that has numerous stop gaps to keep the government from becoming tyrannical.

    • Fred Scuttle says:

      I’d prefer all the other freedoms of libertarianism minus the armed-to-the-teeth-if-they-had-any dum bass knuckledraggers who think they could organize, command and control a militia capable of repelling the most powerful military in the history of the world. You forgot to include the freedom to be gullible and stupid, which should be even higher on your list.

  6. joe voll says:

    You shouldve picked the Netherlands as the most Libertarian country. Very soft on crime and drugs. Coffee shops selling marijuana. Prostitution. Euthanasia. Gay Marriage. Abortion………. All the personal freedoms you could imagine that the United States doesnt allow.

  7. […] *I got this from Libertarian Money and I give credit to the blogger. I just simply did not want to re-blog the post as it wouldn’t allow me (as far as I know) to categorize it under and where I wanted it to be. No forgery is intended. The original post from Libertarian Money can be accessed here. […]

  8. John says:

    What about gun ownership? To me, you can’t be a truly free libertarian if you can’t carry a gun! I just returned home (USA) from Canada and was talking to a police officer in Toronto about gun ownership…sounds WAY, WAY more restricted than in the US…even compared to Massachusetts (my home)!

  9. Ryan says:

    As a Canadian who has lived and done business in over a dozen countries. I find it difficult to believe that canada ranks on this list at all…
    The government is by now way smal. 1in 3.2 people in canada are in some form of government payroll… Maybe the government in total size and revenue is smaller but it the fact that the population of the country is barely a tenth of that of the US need to be considered… A government office complex in ottawa (place chaudiere) boast the second largest amount of federal government workers in the world (38,000) next only to the pentagone (at reportedly 50,000). That a lot of Feds for a country of 33 million… And that’s only one building and one level of government…
    All those people are regulating something and thier salaries are drawn from taxes…
    In addition to the above, the socialis leanings of the country make it a much more difficult country in which to do business than the US… Once you hire someone, the cost of insuring each one and providing the required benefits is staggering to say the least. I ever you need I dismiss one for any reason, the creator of the business and the investors had better be ready for a fight or at least be willing the pay an extortionate severance… Employees run the show… With little public recognition of the backbone of the economy, entrepreneurs.
    I’m not sure how you arrived at placing canada so high on the list, perhaps your criteria was Leaning more towards social which, are of little consequence in the determination of a libertarian society… In my understanding of the term… Libertarianism is a financial system that tends toward creating a social system but the latter is a side effect of the first, nothing more…

  10. Joey Kathmandu says:

    A ridiculous list, the US – ask the NSA and IRS about this – as for the rest – one word – taxes. A country with high tax rates cannot by definition be a libertarian country.

  11. ramram says:

    Lichtenstein, small but free, possibly thanks to strong Monarchy

  12. Adam says:

    This list is completely inaccurate. True rights are inalienable (come from god), and thus true freedom comes from the LACK of involuntary social laws and programs (government). Try owning a AR15 in New Zealand. Try living off the land in the US. Try not being forced to pay for “free” health insurance for heroine addicts and abortion in Canada.
    Switzerland and Ireland are at least close, but no cigar. Try smoking in a pub in either country.
    True libertarianism fully empowers the individual while revoking collective mandates. Social-leftist nations like these think governments grant rights.

  13. redeye says:

    There are none. Its a fantasy that most kids outgrow. We live with other people and are social beings

    • srqrebel says:

      What does “we live with other people and are social beings” have to do with which countries are more libertarian than others? And, for that matter, what does the fact that there are no completely libertarian countries have to do with the question of which ones are more libertarian-friendly than the rest?

      And, who is this “we” you speak of? I detest the routine violations of individual rights than one experiences at the hands of gov’t agents, often precipitated by mere citizens upon their fellows (calling the cops on each other, etc.), that I personally would rather live with the least amount of human contact possible. Even libertarians are often looking for a fight (i.e. if you cross their own interpretation of property rights or morals). So, whoever you include in your collective “we,” please don’t be so presumptuous as to count me among “you”.

  14. […] but also (possibly as a joke?) includes North Korea because marijuana is technically legal there. Here’s another list which puts Ireland at the top of the list, but doesn’t offer much reasoning for that choice. Of […]

  15. nebhuskers says:

    Reblogged this on My Uncommon [two] Sense.

  16. handgunhero says:

    Eh I don’t know about any of these at all. New Zealand should be on the top – taxation isn’t a big issue at all compared to social and economic freedoms and opportunities, which NZ is ripe. Taxation is to be expected in Libertarian nations and to be managed wisely. NZ gets hit financially – the money does need to be made back.

  17. […] even define this country as that. And seems that these guys disagree with your assessment. 5 Most Libertarian Countries ? What is the most libertarian country? | Libertarian Money __________________ It really is that […]

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