Libyans and Iraqis are the most generous in the world, study suggests

People walk at a market in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
People walk at a market in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

A war-torn state and a country ruled by an oppressive military junta for decades are home to the world’s most generous people, research suggests.

People in Iraq are the kindest to strangers, while Myanmar’s residents give the most away, according to the CAF World Giving Index 2016.

In the last month, eight in 10 Iraqis have helped someone they don’t know, with Libyans helping almost as many.

During the same period, 91% of those in Myanmar have given money to charity.

In comparison, 63% of Americans – the second most generous overall – have donated money, with 73% helping a stranger.

The annual ranking places Myanmar, previously known as Burma, at the top of the list for the third year in a row, with more than half the population donating time and 63% helping a stranger.

The report said the generous giving reflected the practice of “Sangha Dana”, where the country’s Theravada Buddhist majority donate to support those living a monastic lifestyle.

The overall table, which takes into account financial donations, help offered to strangers and volunteering, ranks the UK as the most generous place in Europe, the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, Kenya in Africa and Guatemala in Latin America.

China is named as the least generous country.

However, the poll only takes into account the responses of 1,000 people on average in each of the 140 countries, and the Charities Aid Foundation acknowledges there is margin for error.

But it is the kindness of Iraqis and Libyans to complete strangers in the face of years of conflict and terrible violence which stands out in the list.

BBC correspondents are unsurprised by the findings, as both countries have long traditions of hospitality to those they don’t know.

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