Iraq ranks as the world's second most unstable country, according to an annual index of failed states.
Iraq had been fourth in the 2006 Failed States Index
The report - compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank - ranks nations according to their vulnerability.
Judged according to 12 criteria, including internal conflict and society breakdown, states range from the most failed, Sudan, to the least, Norway.
Eight of the 10 most vulnerable states out of 177 examined are in Africa.
The survey says that two of the countries at the forefront of the US war on terror - Iraq and Afghanistan - are also among the world's 10 most vulnerable countries.
"Billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy," the report says.
FAILED STATES 2007 - TOP 10
6. Ivory Coast
7. D.R. Congo
10. Central African Republic
Only Sudan - where violence in its western Darfur region has killed at least 200,000 people - is judged to be in a worse state than Iraq.
The country's turmoil has also affected its neighbours, worsening the situation in both the Central African Republic and Chad.
"The spill-over effects from Sudan have a great deal to do with the countries' tumble in the ranking, demonstrating that the dangers of failing states often bleed across borders," the report adds.
Last summer's war in Lebanon contributed to making it the country whose stability deteriorated most from last year, followed by Somalia, Equatorial Guinea and Niger.
Despite its ranking as the seventh most vulnerable state, the Democratic Republic of Congo made what the survey calls "impressive gains".
Zimbabwe's failing economy dragged it higher in the index
Holding the first multiparty elections in more than 40 years, the country "helped improve the state's legitimacy in the eyes of its impoverished populace".
Liberia is praised for its economy - growing at 7% - its demobilised militias and the efforts, led by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to tackle endemic corruption.
China and Russia too, the index says, have managed to move out of the worst 60 states, both propelled by their growing economies.
The second annual Failed States Index was based on analysis of tens of thousands of articles including international and local media reports and public documents.
Countries listed as 'critical':
4. N Korea
10. Ivory Coast
12. Central African Republic
15. DR Congo
*Countries not numbered in order of index rank*
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