Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are seen as having the least corruption in the world, according to a just-published global survey.
Somalia is viewed as the most corrupt country.
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is published annually by Transparency International, a corruption monitoring organization based in Berlin, Germany.
"The surveys and assessments used to compile the index include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts," said a release accompanying the 2010 CPI.
Countries with the highest scores on the index are viewed as having the least corruption; countries with the lowest scores, the most
Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore each scored 9.3 out of a possible 10.
Rounding out the 10 highest scores: Finland and Sweden, 9.2; Canada, 8.9; Netherlands, 8.8; Australia and Switzerland, 8.7; and Norway, 8.6.
Japan was 17th on the list with a score of 7.8; the United Kingdom 20th (7.6); and the United States 22nd (7.1).
At the bottom of the 178 countries Somalia scored 1.1, just below Afghanistan and Myanmar (1.4) and Iraq (1.5).
Among emerging economic powerhouses, Brazil was 69th on the list with a score of 3.7; China 78th (3.5); and India 87th (3.3).
Overall, Transparency International says of the survey: "These results indicate a serious corruption problem.
"With governments committing huge sums to tackle the world's most pressing problems, from the instability of financial markets to climate change and poverty, corruption remains an obstacle to achieving much needed progress."