Japan: Worst debt
World Economy Japan
A man passes before a share prices board in Tokyo.
Measure: Government debt*
2012 reading: 235.8% of GDP

By most measures, Japan's economy receives a top ranking. With limited natural resources, the country has a technology-focused economy that, in the past, grew at rapid rates and resulted in prosperity and stability.

But in one area -- government debt -- the island nation is struggling.

The country's debt is projected to be 239% of the size of its economy by the end of this year, according to the IMF. No other country is even close.

Still, much of Japan's debt is held by domestic investors and interest rates remain low. Despite several credit downgrades over the past decade its 10-year bond is trading below 1%.

The latest downgrade came in May, when Fitch Ratings cut Japan's rating, saying its plan to control its debt was too "leisurely."

The warnings have left Japanese policymakers with a tough set of choices. The country has not fully recovered from the twin disasters that struck in 2011, leaving tax hikes to combat debt a tricky proposition.

General government gross debt, as a percentage of GDP
  @CRrileyCNN - Last updated August 07 2012 10:22 AM ET
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The world's worst economies

By at least one measure, these countries rank worst in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund's estimates.

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