Hong Kong ranks as the freest country in the world according to the Index, followed by Singapore and Australia. New Zealand and Switzerland round out the top five. Out of the top ten countries, however, only two became more free relative to last year's ranking: Singapore and Chile.
Heritage writes that "the U.S. has recorded its lowest Index score since 2000," driven by its policy choice response to the global recession. and that "restoring the U.S. to a place among the world's 'free' economies will require significant policy reforms."
Still, the U.S. is well off even compared to other developed countries. Much of Western Europe continues to struggle with economic freedom, as Spain, France, Portugal and Italy all fall into the "moderately free" category. Much of Europe is better off, however:
Economic freedom grew in 32 countries in Europe, contributing to the region's 0.5-point advance in overall score, while nine countries -- Cyprus and Ireland most dramatically -- lost economic freedom. Europe narrowed the gap with North America to place second among six regions in economic freedom.
For more on the Economic Freedom Index, head on over and explore. Here's a global map of how the countries shook out this year: