Overall score: 75.5
Last year’s No. 2 finisher leapfrogged last year’s top dog Chile, receiving high marks for political, civil, and human rights, as well as spending on social programs. Uruguay received a strong score for gay rights after becoming the first South American country to legalize same sex marriage: Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill in April. Residents of the small country, which has a population of just 3.4 million, felt a sense of personal empowerment and that their government was generally responsive to their requests, according to surveys used in the index.
For the second year, however, the country received low marks for civil society participation.