In Brief

The safest and the most dangerous countries in the world

Afghanistan named the least peaceful, while Iceland continues to hold top spot as safest country

Even before the Taliban swept through Afghanistan last month, the country had been ranked among the world’s least peaceful countries for the past decade.

This year it sat at the very bottom of the Global Peace Index, created by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), 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.

“There was no flourishing of Afghanistan under foreign occupation,” wrote Ben Doherty in The Guardian today, as America’s last soldier left the country. “More than 47,000 Afghan civilians died in the conflict; millions have fled as refugees to other countries. Afghanistan remains the world’s largest supplier of heroin; the country has consistently been ranked among the world’s least peaceful and most corrupt.”

The index, published in June, did record an improvement in peacefulness over the past year for Afghanistan, with the total number of deaths from internal conflict and terrorism falling - but it “still has a higher terrorism impact than any other country in the world”.

Its score on these fronts may well change by the time next year’s index is released: the report acknowledged that the US plan to halt all operations and withdraw military forces from the country left the future of the nation “uncertain”.

Overall, “peacefulness” across the world had deteriorated by 0.07%, although “the change in score is the second smallest in the history of the index”, it said.

The pandemic had also “had a significant impact on levels of conflict and violence”, said the IEP in its key findings, with over 5,000 pandemic-related violent events recorded globally between January 2020 and April 2021.

Iceland, however, remained the world’s most peaceful country - perhaps an unsurprising result for a destination where the average murder rate is just over one per year - holding on to a distinction it has held since 2008 when the index began.

The UK meanwhile, jumped six places in the index to the 33rd most peaceful country - but remains some way from entering into the top ten.

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

Ten most dangerous countries
  • Afghanistan
  • Yemen
  • Syria
  • South Sudan
  • Iraq
  • Somalia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Libya
  • Central African Republic
  • Russia
Ten safest countries
  • Iceland
  • New Zealand
  • Denmark
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Ireland
  • Czech Republic
  • Canada 

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