A recent map from GOOD shows a new way to measure a country’s stature on the world stage: The freedom that its citizens have to travel the globe.
Western countries tend to have more travel freedom as measured by the number of visa exemptions, or the ability to get a visa on arrival. Finns, Brits, and Swedes can travel to 173 countries without obtaining a visa ahead of their trip, while at the other end of the spectrum, Afghanis need to obtain visas for all but 28 countries.
North American and European countries clearly have the edge, but some Asian countries have nearly as much freedom to travel: Japanese citizens can travel visa-free to 170 countries, the most of any East Asian country. And Singaporean, South Korean and Malaysian citizens can travel without visas to 167, 166, and 163 nations respectively.
Nor is travel freedom dependent on a country’s economic development. China is the world’s second largest economy, but its citizens can only go to 43 countries without visas, the same number as people from Cameroon, Rwanda, and the Congo. (That’s one reason why easing visa restrictions on Chinese tourists was high on the agenda of Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s visit to the UK last week.) In contrast, citizens of Taiwan—which Beijing claims should be part of the mainland—can travel to 130 countries, and citizens from Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, can go to 152. Similarly, Indian nationals can only travel visa-free to 52 countries, the same as Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic.