In Brief

The safest and most dangerous countries in the world

War-torn Syria tops the list of the most dangerous, while Iceland holds top spot as the safest

To many travellers, one of the most important aspects of planning an adventure across the globe is determining whether a destination is safe or not.

The Global Peace Index, created by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), is a comprehensive measure which takes into account factors such as militarisation, freedom of speech, violent and sexual crime rates and natural disasters to rank countries according to their safety.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Iceland, where the average murder rate is just over one per year, came out as the safest country on the list - a distinction it has held since 2008.

But the IEP writes in the report that despite a strong showing from the usual candidates - including New Zealand, Canada and Austria - the overall results find that the “global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27% in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations”.

The body suggests that this is a result of “tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the past decade” and “remain unresolved, especially in the Middle East, resulting in this gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness”.

Predictably, the bottom of the list is mostly comprised of countries that have been gripped by military or civilian unrest in recent years, with Syria being given the highest possible risk ranking and thus taking the top spot ahead of South Sudan and war-torn Yemen.

Here are the IEP’s ten safest and ten most dangerous countries on Earth:

Ten most dangerous countries

Syria: The war-torn country remains the least peaceful in the world, a position it has held for the past five years.

Afghanistan: The country has incurred some of the largest economic costs of violence in the world, at 63% of its GDP in 2017.

South Sudan: An intense power struggle has seen the eight-year-old country dip in and out of major famine, leaving 200,000 children at risk of death from malnutrition.

Iraq: The Washington Post reports that “for the first time in years, people are starting to have fun and nightlife is back”, but 16 years of brutal war has left the country critically unstable and attacks are still frequent.

Somalia: The most recent statistics from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) reported 1,228 murders between January and September 2017, about half of which were committed by militant group Al-Shabab.

Yemen: The World Health Organization (WHO) says there have been 1.2 million cases of suspected or confirmed cholera in Yemen since April 2017, following the outbreak of its brutal civil war.

Libya: Amnesty International says that, since the fall of the Gaddafi government in 2011, Libya has been plagued with ethnic cleansing, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture and human trafficking.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: More than 100 armed groups remained active in eastern Congo’s North Kivu and South Kivu, Human Rights Watch says, while a 2010 study found that four women were raped every five minutes in the country.

Central African Republic: Out of a population of 4.6 million, 640,969 people have been displaced by a worsening sectarian conflict, the Council of Foreign Relations reports.

Russia: On the Global Peace Index, Russia fared poorly in the “terrorism impact”, “violent crime” and “political terror” categories.

Ten safest countries

Iceland: The Nordic island has been the most peaceful country in the world since 2008.

New Zealand: A recent study by Value Champion found New Zealand to be the best country in the world for women thanks to its “impressive healthcare systems, safety, and opportunities”.

Austria: The central European country has not suffered a terrorist attack in almost a decade, and has had no indiscriminate attacks targeting civilians since 1985.

Portugal: The Mediterranean country “boasts one of the world's lowest crime rates with violent crime a relatively rare occurrence and typically isolated to certain bad areas”, World Nomad says.

Denmark: The 2018 World Happiness Report again ranked Denmark among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed – a distinction that the country has earned for seven consecutive years, partially due to its extremely low crime rate, The Conversation says.

Canada: Canada’s extremely low crime rate is in part due to public trust in and a healthy relationship with authorities, with 82% of residents saying local law enforcement has their confidence, Global News Canada says.

Czech Republic: Conde Nast reports that the Czech Republic got 1.381 points in the Peace Index “for low per-capita military spending and relatively few acts of violent crime”.

Singapore: Research firm Gallup says 94% of adults in Singapore feel safe walking alone at night, compared with the global average of 68%.

Japan: In 2014, just four people were fatal victims of gun crime out of a population of 127 million - the lowest in the world outside of Iceland and Luxembourg.

Ireland: A 2016 Failte Ireland survey found that 97% of holidaymakers felt safe and secure in Ireland.

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