A guide to the world's most liberal countries
In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to decriminalise possession of all drugs for personal use. The country introduced state-funded therapy programmes for abusers which have seen record number of people seeking help. Rates of HIV infection and drug-related deaths have also halved in the ten years since the new legislation.
2. Czech Republic
While most nods go the Netherlands’ way when considering drug possession, it is in fact the Czechs that have the most liberal laws when it comes to personal use. Citizens can legally be in possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana, 40 ‘magic mushrooms’, four tabs of LSD or Ecstasy and one gram of cocaine.
3. North Korea
Drug abusers in North Korea “will face a firing squad” according to of a recently-launched government campaign in Pyongyang. However, substances such as marijuana and opium are completely legal in the country, a feat achieved by the government’s not recognising such substances as ‘drugs’ in the first place.
Did you know: The 2012 UN World Drugs Report stated that the world’s highest rate of cocaine use was found on the Isle of Man, where 3.5 per cent of the population used the Class A drug.
In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage, while in 2012 its Gender Identity Law blazed another libertarian trail by allowing transgender citizens to have their sex altered on their birth certificates. Other countries in the region such as Brazil and Uruguay have since followed suit.
While countries in Scandinavia were the first in Europe to provide support and tax breaks for same-sex partnerships, it was the Netherlands in 2001 that the region’s first law recognising gay marriage was introduced. More than 16,000 same-sex couples have since been married in the country.
3. South Africa
The only country on the continent to permit same-sex marriage, South Africa stands out as a beacon of gay rights within a continent where homosexuality is punishable by death in countries such as Sudan and Nigeria.
Did You Know: There are approximately one million children in the United States being raised by same-sex couples.
The act of exchanging money for sex has never been illegal in Canada, however many of the country’s laws, such as prohibiting the offering of such services, make it almost impossible for a prostitute to work legally. ‘Bawdy Houses’ are illegal but generally tolerated.
Prostitution is legal and regulated in Germany. Brothels are taxed like any other business by the government, and require relevant licensing for the sale of food and drink. Prostitutes must register their profession with the government, attend regular medical checkups, and pay VAT on their services in addition to income tax.
Prostitution is legal in Holland, which is one of the world’s only countries where pimping is also a state-recognised profession. The De Wallen red-light district of Amsterdam is one of the world’s most popular destinations for sex tourism.
Did You Know: The prostitution industry in the United States is worth approximately £9.5 billion.
There is no income tax in Andorra on either individuals or companies. Citizens pay five to nine per cent of their salaries towards social security. Spanish expatriates who move to Andorra still have to pay Spanish taxes under law for the first five years of their emigration.
Monaco levies no income tax on its residents, garnering it the reputation as a “tax haven”. French citizens who are resident in Monaco must still pay French income tax. The country does however have high social insurance taxes levied upon employers, which range from 10-14 per cent.
Part of the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom, to buy a house in Jersey one must either have been born there, have lived there for five years, or have £5 million in the bank. The tax breaks are enormous, and clients of banks need only have a bank account with a branch on the island to experience the benefits.
Did You Know: Approximately 90 per cent of people in the United States who employ housekeepers cheat on their taxes.
According to Transperency International, Denmark and New Zealand are the World's least corrupt countries, both with scores of 9.3 out of 10 on the Corrpution Perception Index.
Somalia was by far the most corrupt, scoring just 1.1.
The most corrupt western country was Russia.