Almost 30 million individuals around the world are living as slaves today, according to the Global Slavery Index, a study conducted by NGO Walk Free.
More than 50,000 of those living as slaves are in the United States, the study found.
The study defined a “slave” as someone who is being treated by another person as if they were property -- “something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.” The study included those from whom work was being taken without consent, using threats or other forms of coercion.
Despite being home to 50,000 people living in such inhumane conditions, the United States ranked 134 out of the 160 countries in this study -- which means that conditions are much worse in 133 other countries.
In terms of rank -- which reflects per capita slavery -- the West African country Mauritania tops the list, with a small population and disproportionately large number of enslaved people.
Continue Reading Below
According to the Walk Free study, “it is estimated that there are between 140,000 – 160,000 people enslaved in Mauritania, a country with a population of just 3.8 million. This ranking also reflects high levels of child marriage, and to a lesser extent, human trafficking.”
In terms of absolute numbers, India has the highest number of slaves -- an estimated 13.3 million. Debt bondage, or bonded labor, is one of the primary ways in which people in India are forced to live like slaves. Child marriage is also prevalent in some regions of the country.
According to the report, the countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, these countries account for 76 percent of the total estimate of 29.8 million in modern slavery worldwide today.
Here’s a map of the 160 countries included in the study, color-coded by their rank. Click on any country for more info: