New Zealand is among the least corrupt countries in the world, according to Berlin-based Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

The 2010 index ranks New Zealand alongside Denmark and Singapore tied for first place with scores of 9.3. At the other end of scale, Somalia is rated the most corrupt with a score of 1.1, followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar on 1.4.

Australia came in eighth with 8.7, the United Kingdom 20th on 7.6, and the United States 22nd with 7.1.

Nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem, the chair of Transparency International Huguette Labelle said.

Ms Labelle said the results showed that "significantly greater" efforts needed to be made into strengthening governance.

"With the livelihoods of so many at stake, governments' commitments to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability must speak through their actions. Good governance is an essential part of the solution to the global policy challenges governments face today," she said

"Allowing corruption to continue is unacceptable; too many poor and vulnerable people continue to suffer its consequences around the world.

"We need to see more enforcement of existing rules and laws. There should be nowhere to hide for the corrupt or their money."