South Sudan is the world's most fragile state for the second year running, a ranking published by U.S. research organization, the Fund for Peace (FFP), shows.
Somalia, the Central African Republic, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in the next four places at the top of the list, which was released Thursday.
Finland is at the opposite end of the Fragile States Index, which FFP has compiled for the last 11 years.
Twelve indicators, including numbers of "refugees, IDPs, factionalization of the elite, the extent to which a state might be highly dependent on external aid to fulfill its functions as a state," are used to determine a country's ranking, said Nate Haken, the director of the FFP's Conflict Early Warning and Assessment program, which produces the index.
"The food crisis (in South Sudan) was very significant, as well as the political factionalization, the displacement and violence," Haken said.
More than 2 million South Sudanese have fled their homes since fighting erupted in December 2013. The United Nations says it expects the number of people facing severe food insecurity in South Sudan to rise to 4.6 million in the coming weeks, compared to 2.5 million at the start of the year, because of the unrest.
"Our index looks at all the pressures on the system that is the State to provide a diagnostic tool for stakeholders to work together to promote peace," Haken said.
"South Sudan has the most overall pressures, based on our assessment," he said.
But, Haken added, South Sudan is not doomed to be at the top of the list in years to come.
"It's a big challenge, but people can defy the odds. With strong leadership with participatory consensus-building and with support from those who can provide that support, South Sudan can move beyond the levels of fragility it's experiencing right now," he said.