Hear the words “failed state,” and a certain unshakable set of images likely floods your vision. There is poverty, insecurity, and a disregard for human dignity. Families fight for their survival, and political regimes fight to extend their rule. Some weak states are simply geographical aspirations on a map, filled with destitution and squalor. Others are, if anything, too strong; citizens of Zimbabwe and Syria might be better off if their countries’ security forces weren’t quite so good at repression.
This is the world of the fragile state—a world that is a grim reality for an alarming percentage of the global population. A quarter of the world’s human beings live in the 60 worst-ranking countries on the 2011 Failed States Index, which examines the year 2010. Here’s a glimpse of their daily existence.
Click here for a slide show published in Foreign Policy magazine of images from Somalia, the Congo, Zimbabwe, and other “failed states.”