Political scientist Jay Ulfelder has, for the past three years, maintained a mathematical model to predict the likelihood of coups in almost every country around the world. By tracking over a dozen variables – from political system to years of independence the presence of absence of an "elite" ethnic group – Ulfelder's model roughly estimates the likelihood that each country will experience a coup this year. He "trained" the model by applying it over the years 1960 to 2010, further developing its ability to predict future coups by looking at past ones.
Ulfelder kindly shared his full dataset with me, which I've mapped out above. The redder countries are at higher risk for a coup and the yellower countries at lower risk.
Here are a few notes to help you read this map. First, even the most extreme cases are well below a 50 percent likelihood of a coup, meaning that a coup probably won't occur. Those would be the West African countries of Guinea and Mali (26.5 percent and 22.7 percent likelihoods of coups) and Madagascar, at 23.9 percent likelihood. Those numbers are high enough, though, to be appropriately alarming. Second, the numbers drop off quickly, with the vast majority of countries less than 5 percent likelihood of a coup, and half of them less than 1.5 percent. So the difference between a dark red country and a light orange or yellow country is very significant.
There are a few immediately obvious trends in the data. First, it doesn't look good for sub-Saharan Africa, which has the top nine most at-risk countries. Not all of Africa, to be clear, much of which is quite stable, but the risk is heavily concentrated in Africa's Sahel region (that east-west strip just below the Saharan desert) and in West and Central Africa. There are complex political, ethnic and post-colonial reasons for this
The stand-outs beyond sub-Saharan Africa also tell some interesting stories. The highest-ranked non-African country is Thailand, with a projected 10.9 percent likelihood of a coup this year. By some measurements, Thailand has more coups than any other countries on earth (here's why) and is currently experiencing another round of protests and political turmoil. Afghanistan and Pakistan are at high risk, though for different reasons (deep ethnic and political competition in Afghanistan, an independent-leaning military in Pakistan, weak civilian governments in both). Egypt, which saw a coup in 2013, has a projected 9 percent chance of another this year. Further afield are Haiti and Ecuador, the only two countries in the Western hemisphere with significant risks for coups, with 9.2 and 8.5 percent projected, respectively. (This is why I wrote, in June, that NSA leaker Edward Snowden would be wise to turn down Ecuador's offer of asylum; the next government could change its mind.)