Myanmar and the United States ranked first and second, respectively, as the most generous countries in the world in terms of individuals helping strangers, giving to organized charities and volunteering time, the World Giving Index, released Monday, indicated.
Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka rounded out the top five.
The least generous countries were Democratic Republic of Congo, Greece, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and China.
The index, commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation surveyed an average 1,000 people in 140 countries, the most generous among them hit hard by disaster and war, Reuters reported. More than half of the people queried said they had helped a stranger.
“The American way is for everyone to be able to follow their ambitions and fulfill their dreams, but also to reach out and help people in times of need,” Ted Hart, chief executive officer of the foundation, said in a statement.
When it came to giving individually to total strangers, Iraqis ranked No. 1, with 81 percent saying they had given to someone they didn’t know in the preceding month.
“The generosity of people, even in countries suffering from disaster and turmoil, is truly humbling,” John Low, chief executive of the foundation, said.
Libya, which also has been hit by chaos, ranked second in the giving to strangers category; Myanmar, third; and Somalia, in the midst of 25 years of civil war, fourth.
"I think that the lesson here is societies are incredibly resilient and that large scale disasters tend to activate a collective humanitarian response," said Adam Pickering, international policy manager at the foundation, which promotes charitable giving.
Seventy-three percent of Americans said they had helped a stranger, 63 percent said they had given money to charitable causes, and 46 percent said they had volunteered their time, the Daily Signal reported.
“In every county, people have this in-built desire to give and help others,” Low said. “Governments should encourage that spirit of generosity and create the environment in which a strong civil society can flourish, allowing people to reach out to those less fortunate than themselves.”
Turkmenistan ranked first in volunteering time.
The World Giving Index was first released in 2010. It’s based on data from the Gallup World Poll, representing about 95 percent of the world’s adult population. Depending on the size of a country, 550 to 2,000 people are surveyed.