MOST POPULOUS COUNTRIES WHICH ARE CONSIDERED FREE (AS OF 2010) BUT WERE DICTATORSHIPS AT SOME TIME IN THE PAST 40 YEARS
Some countries in North Africa and the Middle East (as of March 2011) are in transition towards Democracy (Egypt could very well soon join this list). Many other countries elsewhere in the world have already made a successful transition from dictatorship to democracy, including in parts of Eastern (and Southern) Europe, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The data for this list comes from Freedom House based on their labels of "Free", "Partly Free", and "Not Free" (since 1972). 36 countries were labeled "Free" in 2010 but yet had a label of "Not Free" during one or more years since 1972 (including Germany, which had a portion of its country, the former East Germany, being "Not Free" in the 1970s and 1980s). This is based on current boundaries (so the former USSR would have 3 of the 36 countries: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The ten most populous are listed here.
2. South Africa
3. South Korea
Note: The part of Germany which was formerly in East Germany has about 15 million people, which would put it #12.
Source of Data: Freedom House Website, http://www.freedomhouse.org
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