Published On: Thu, Mar 28th, 2019

The Top 7 North American Countries With the Most Personal Freedom

Personal freedom comes with different definitions which even vary from one country to another. However, the most important points that personal freedom or civil liberty should cover and bestow upon all individuals are:

  • Protection from discrimination and abuse of human rights
  • Protection from slavery, forced, or obligatory labor
  • Assurance of a fair trial
  • Appropriate solution if human rights are breached
  • Freedom of thought and expression

Because a person’s quality of life can be reduced or improved by the level of civil liberty he or she is enjoying, personal freedom is one of the key pillars that define the true prosperity of a country.

photo courtesy of Greenberg Health

Rankings of North American Countries in Terms of Personal Freedom

According to the 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index, North America has always ranked high in terms of personal freedom.

In 2017, many North American countries experienced a dip in this pillar. However, in 2018, most of these countries were able to turn the numbers around. In fact, these nations have improved the level and quality of personal freedom of their residents.

The Legatum Prosperity Index considered three important factors in ranking countries based on this particular pillar. These are:

  • Basic legal rights
  • Individual liberties
  • Social tolerance

Based on these factors, below are the top seven North American countries where personal freedom is at its highest:

#1 Canada

Although Canada was ranked number eight on the Prosperity Index, it is number one in personal freedom overall.

In Canada, freedom of expression, belief, and association is protected and encouraged. Tolerance of immigrants and minorities is encouraged as well. Canada has, in fact, regained its title of being the number one country in the world in terms of civil liberty which it also got in 2015.

The country has also been hailed as one of the most tolerant and accepting of LGBT individuals.

#2 Costa Rica

Overall, Costa Rica ranked 15th on personal freedom in 2018.

Citizens of Costa Rica enjoy the freedom of movement, residence, and employment. LGBT rights are also protected in this country. Additionally, the Costa Rican government upholds freedom of religion in practice. Academic freedom is respected as well.

#3 United States of America

Ranking 23rd on the personal freedom pillar, Americans still enjoy various civil liberties that make it one of the most-sought-after destinations for immigrants from across the world.

Different segments of the population have full political and electoral rights and opportunities in this country. Freedom of belief and expression is also protected. Citizens also enjoy personal social and academic freedoms.

Lastly, even with the tumultuous political atmosphere, citizens can freely express their personal views on political issues or other sensitive topics without fear of retribution.

#4 Panama

In terms of personal freedom, Panama ranked 33rd in 2018.

The people of Panama have outstanding political rights. They also have the freedom to practice and express their religious beliefs. Citizens also enjoy freedom of assembly, expression, and movement which means they can change their places of residence, employment, or education at will.

Lastly, the citizens of Panama enjoy various personal social freedoms which include their choice of marriage partner and size of their family.

#5 Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic was ranked No. 40 in last year’s personal freedom pillar.

The majority of citizens in this country are satisfied with the civil liberties they are enjoying. The country has comprehensive laws that guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Additionally, the freedom of expression, and religious and academic freedom are all protected.


#6  Nicaragua

Ranking 43rd in 2018’s personal freedom pillar, Nicaragua’s citizens enjoy more civil liberties than many other countries.

Freedom of speech is protected by the Nicaraguan constitution. Other freedoms enjoyed by Nicaraguans include assembly and association, religion, and movement — both domestically and internationally.

Discrimination based on birth, nationality, gender, race, religion and economic or social condition is frowned upon as well.

#7 Mexico

Mexico landed on the 48th spot in terms of personal freedom in last year’s Prosperity Index.

Locals have complete political rights and electoral opportunities. The country has also taken steps to improve legal and constitutional guarantees of free speech. In addition, the expression and practice of religious faith have never been impeded in Mexico.

Academic freedom is also unrestricted, and citizens enjoy various personal social freedoms.

Although most of these countries still have a long way to go to give their citizens more personal freedoms, they are on the right track. The Legatum Institute, which conducts and publishes the yearly study, continues to keep an eye on each country’s development.

Author: Chiyako Ikeda

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