New Zealand leads the way in human freedom according to an international index that ranks 123 countries.
The Canadian Fraser Institute has released its report evaluating how each country measures in security and safety, movement, expression and relationship freedoms.
New Zealand topped the index as offering the highest level of human freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands and Hong Kong.
Australia came in fourth. The US ranked seventh.
The United Kingdom ranked 18th, ahead of France at 33 and Germany, which came in 35th on the list.
The lowest-ranked countries were Zimbabwe, Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.
The index was contained in a new book, Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom, which examined the characteristics of freedom and how it could best be measured and compared between different nations.
The book's editor, Fred McMahon, said the intention was to measure the degree to which people were free to enjoy classic civil liberties-freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly-in each country surveyed.
"We also look at indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms."
The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organisation .
Top 10 Countries
1. New Zealand
3. Hong Kong
7. United States of America
Bottom 10 Countries
118. Democratic Republic of Congo
120. Sri Lanka