The LEAST vulnerable states in the world, those that came bottom of the list, were three Scandinavian nations - Finland, Sweden and Norway.
Hell hole - Sudan tops the list.
Beautiful Helsinki - Finland is third from bottom, just above Sweden and Norway. Finland is also the world's most democratic nation.
FAILED STATES 2006 - TOP 10
1. Sudan (3)*
2. DR Congo (2)*
3. Ivory Coast (1)*
4. Iraq (4)*
5. Zimbabwe (15)*
6. Chad (7)*
8. Haiti (10)*
9. Pakistan (34)*
10 Afghanistan (11)*
Position in 2005 in brackets
Pakistan and Afghanistan are among the world's top 10 most vulnerable states, according to a new study.
The report - compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank - ranked 146 nations according to their viability.
Judged according to 12 criteria, including human flight and economic decline, states range from the most failed, Sudan, to the least, Norway.
Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are rated 19th, 20th and 25th respectively.
The top 60 positions in the list were occupied almost exclusively by African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries.
India was ranked 93rd, Bhutan came 39th and the Maldives were not mentioned.
The second annual "failed states index" was based on "tens of thousands of articles" from different sources gathered over several months in 2005 and reviewed by experts, its authors said.
Each nation was given an overall score based on the 12 criteria:
mounting demographic pressures
massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples
legacy of vengeance - seeking group grievance
chronic and sustained human flight
uneven economic development along group lines
sharp and/or severe economic decline
criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state
progressive deterioration of public services
widespread violation of human rights
security apparatus as "state within a state"
rise of factionalised elites
intervention of other states or external actors
Pakistan moved from 34th last year to ninth in the new report - one of the sharpest changes in the overall score of any country on the list.
The contributing factors were Pakistan's inability to police the tribal areas near the Afghan border, the devastating earthquake last October in Kashmir and rising ethnic tensions, the report said.
Afghanistan, ranked 10th, faces different problems from Iraq, which despite the presence of US-led troops came fourth, the report said.
Educated exiled Afghans had been slow to go home following the ousting of the Taleban in 2001, but poor refugees had returned from Pakistan and Iran in large numbers, the study said.
"The result is a capital city busting at the seams but short of trained administrators."
The authors cite India as an example of a state which has pulled back from the brink, saying that in the 1970s analysts predicted dire consequences as a result of population growth, economic mismanagement, poverty and corruption.
Now, they say, India today has turned itself around and might have the edge over China (ranked 57) in the long run.
Pauline Baker, president of the Fund for Peace, told the Associated Press news agency that India had greater social mobility and was more decentralised than its more populous neighbour.
Zimbabwe, Chad, Somalia, Haiti and Pakistan and Afghanistan were also placed in the top 10 of the most failed states.
The top sixty positions in the list were occupied almost exclusively by African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries.
The only European states in relatively high positions were Bosnia and Herzogovina (35), Russia (43), Belarus (50), Serbia and Montenegro (55) and Moldova (58 ).
The least vulnerable states were Finland (144), Sweden (145) and Norway (146), the report said.