E ACH YEAR The Economist picks a "country of the year". The award goes not to the biggest, the richest or the happiest, but to the one that in our view improved the most in 2021. Past winners have included Uzbekistan (for abolishing slavery), Colombia (for making peace) and Tunisia (for embracing democracy). This year was a difficult one. Covid-19 continued to spread misery, as brilliantly designed vaccines were unevenly distributed and new variants such as Omicron emerged. In many countries civil liberties and democratic norms were eroded. Russia's main opposition leader was jailed. Donald Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol. Civil wars gripped Ethiopia and Myanmar. Yet amid the gloom, a few countries shone. In tiny Samoa courts defused a constitutional crisis, tossed out the ruling party of 33 years and a prime minister who claimed to have been chosen by God, and installed a reformist, the first woman to hold the job. Moldova , one of the poorest countries in Europe, has long been a sink of Russian money-laundering. But in late 2020 it elected the graft-busting Maia Sandu as president and in 2021 it gave her party control of parliament. Zambia reclaimed its democracy. A year ago… Read full this story
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