The 10 safest countries in the world – and the 10 most dangerous

Jul 23, 2015

UK ranked 39th most peaceful country in the world in ninth edition of Global Peace Index rankings

Iceland is the safest country in the world, while Syria is the most dangerous, the latest report from the Institute for Economics and Peace has found.

The rankings were based on 23 different metrics, taking into account statistical factors such as murder rates and military expenditure, but also including perceptions of criminality within states and terrorism levels. The metrics are combined into a single number, called the Global Peace Index (GPI). The lower the number, the safer a country is regarded.

The report, released annually, ranked Syria as the 88th most peaceful country in 2008, out of 162 total nations. However, the outbreak of civil war and the rise of Islamic State (IS) have caused its peace ranking to shoot through the floor, according to The Independent. Syria earned a GPI of 3.645.

The ten least peaceful countries in the world
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • South Sudan
  • Central African Republic
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Pakistan
  • North Korea

Iceland, by contrast, earned its rank from a low level of militarisation and conflict both domestically and internationally. Iceland is one of few countries in the world – and only Nato member – without a standing army. The closest agency it can deploy is the coastguard. Factors such as these earned Iceland the lowest GPI, at 1.148.

Nordic countries and Alpine states including Austria and Switzerland rank highly on the list of most peaceful countries – Denmark sits in second place, and Finland in sixth. Sweden and Norway are 13th and 17th, respectively, due to their higher crime levels and weapons exports; Sweden prefers to stay neutral in conflicts, yet is the 12th largest exporter of weapons in the world.

The ten most peaceful countries in the world
  • Iceland
  • Denmark
  • Austria
  • New Zealand
  • Finland
  • Switzerland
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Czech Republic

The UK came in 39th place, due primarily to higher perceptions of criminality and a greater threat of terrorist attacks, according to the Independent. Being a nuclear state is also a detriment to its rank.

The ten least safe countries in the world are comprised primarily of states in the Middle East and north and central Africa. These states suffer from frequent bouts of civil war and the effects of the "War on Terror". North Korea also made the bottom ten.

This is the ninth edition of the GPI report. Over the past eight years, the average country score has fallen by 2.4 per cent, indicating that, by and large, the world is becoming less peaceful.

Infographic by for

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