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Postcards From Hell, 2012

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POSTCARDS FROM HELL 2012
A tent of National Transitional Council fighters sits a few kilometers west of Sirte as the sun sets on September 29, 2011. Libya's new rulers on Today stepped up the hunt for Moamer Kadhafi's inner circle, seeking the arrest of one of his sons, Saadi, amid conflicting reports of the capture of his spokesman Mussa Ibrahim. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty File

The"failed state" label may conjure up undifferentiated images of poverty and squalor, but a range of troubles plague the 60 countries atop this year's Failed States Index -- an annual collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Fund For Peace that assesses 177 countries. (Scores are assigned out of a possible 120 points, with higher numbers indicating poorer performance.) Yes, inadequate health care, paltry infrastructure, and basic hunger are the most fundamental culprits, but sometimes it is a ruthless dictator, ethnic tension, or political corruption that is most to blame. In photos and words, here is a glimpse of what life is like in each of the world's most failed states -- and just how it came to be that way.

Read the whole story at Foreign Policy