These Are the Most Peaceful Countries in the World
Ever dream of running away to a more peaceful land but not sure where to catch the peace train? We dug into the 13th edition of the Global Peace Index to learn about the top 20 most peaceful places in the world.
What is the Global Peace Index?
The Institute for Economics and Peace published its 13th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. Using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, the report focused on the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarization. New this year was an analysis of trends in Positive Peace. The good news: there was a slight uptick in global peace this year, the first ascent in five years. Key findings include Afghanistan edging out Syria as the least peaceful nation. The greatest increase in peacefulness occurred in the Russia and Eurasia region. Read on to find out the top 20 countries and try these strategies for making your own corner of the planet more peaceful.
Northern lights, fjords, and Arctic skies are among Norway’s symbols of beauty and peace. Norway was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency because it gives high priority to international non-proliferation efforts. Verdant, safe, and branded as one the happiest places to live, Norway boasts a low crime rate and a high number of electric cars, plus it’s home to polar bears and reindeer.
The quality of life in Sweden is very high and it tied with Belgium, also No. 18. Like other Nordic countries, Sweden has universal health care, free higher education, and pensions are doled out by the government. In addition, the state delivers subsidized housing and childcare and residents of this Scandinavian county have great access to clean drinking water. A country with a big heart, this is the reason why Sweden works only six hours per day.
Belgium tied with Sweden in the 18th position in the world, gaining three places from last year. One of the smallest European countries, it is a place that practices tolerance and diplomacy. Belgium was rated No. 18 in the World Happiness Report. Could peace and happiness have a little to do with chocolate, beer, and medieval rooftops? Learn about these tiny countries you never knew existed.
When one thinks of the Netherlands, peaceful images of fields of tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and bicycles come to mind. Its ranking of No. 17 in the 163 countries may have something to do with its falling crime rate. Favoring rehabilitation over punishment, the country sees a dwindling number of convicts. Its tolerant drug policies also contribute to low crime rates. Learn more about the magical town in the Netherlands where the streets are made of water.
“Malaysians prefer to live with the laws of peace despite the different religions and teachings in the country,” Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying in the Malay Mail. Unlike the Philippines, which was ranked as the least peaceful in the region, Jimmy Choo’s birthplace is a place of peace and harmony where Malays, Indians, Chinese, and various ethnic groups happily coexist. Its diverse geography features coral reefs, rugged mountains, skyscrapers, and rainforests—and, unfortunately, this once beautiful, now polluted beach.
Bhutan has recorded the largest improvement of any country in the top 20, rising 43 places in the last 12 years according to the study. The country is brimming with shrines devoted to the peace-loving religion of Buddhism and has laws to prohibit over-tourism, and places great value on happiness. According to the report, “Bhutan and Pakistan were amongst the 25 countries with the largest reductions in the homicide rate last year.”
Lush green forests, Baltic Islands, and blue lakes dot the landscape of Finland, which is home to 40 national parks you can visit for free. The United States has had diplomatic relations with Finland for 100 years. Finland is committed to promoting equality-related values in society, around the world and recently honored the Human Rights Campaign by presenting them with HÄN Honours. Berry picking and hopping into one of three million saunas add to the sense of peace found in Finland. Peace is illuminated in the midnight sun and Northern lights; Finland is home to one of the best places to see the Northern Lights.
According to the report, “Australia fell one place in the index due to an increase in militarization, namely weapons imports, military expenditure, and nuclear and heavy weapons.” A country known for its natural wonders, rich Aboriginal culture, beaches, wineries, the Bush and the Outback, Australia boasts a low population density (7 people per square mile) and a long history of economic stability. Last year it had the largest median wealth per average adult. Learn about the most popular tourist destinations in Australia.
The Emerald Island boasts green landscapes, rainbows, and possibly a pot of gold for its 4.85 million residents. According to the Irish Mirror, the people who live in Ireland are, “kind, funny, helpful and warm.” Peace permeates in the safe country where people enjoy a simple way of life. It’s also home to these undiscovered gems on off-the-beaten-path locations.
Although Switzerland was voted the No. 1 in the rankings for the third consecutive year in the 2019 Best Countries rankings, it just missed being in the top ten of the GPI’s ratings. A nation known for its neutrality, Switzerland boasts low unemployment, a skilled labor force and maintaining one of the highest gross domestic products per capita. It also yields a high number of Nobel prize winners and the production of registered patents. Its timepieces and chocolate are pretty amazing too and it’s equally charming in summer and winter.
10. Czech Republic
Located in the heart of Central Europe, the Czech Republic boasts a rich culture and has remained insulated from the forces of larger powers. Boasting high living standards and producing talents such as Franz Kafka and Antonin Dvorak, the Czech Republic possesses an old soul for a country born in 1993. It is a member of the United Nations European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe.
A peaceful country with a great quality of life, Japan is twelve times more densely populated than the United States and three times more than Europe. Crime and incarceration continue to be on the decline. Known for its lovely tea ceremonies, majestic gardens and beautiful poetry, Japan is highly regarded for its technological advancements. A resilient nation, Japan bounced back from a devastating tsunami eight years ago.
Slovenia, the birthplace of First Lady Melania Trump, is a verdant land that actually has the word love plopped in the middle of it. Nearly 60 percent of the country is covered in trees and 40 parks and reserves are home to 20,000 varied animals and plants. National Geographic declared Slovenia the winner of a World Legacy Award.
Singapore soars as the No. 1 country in Southeast Asia in the report. The nation, one of the wealthiest in the world, is focused on conservation, eco-friendly practices, and reclaiming land. Safety and security are of great importance in Singapore which heavily fines visitors for littering or chewing gum on mass transit—it’s one of these funny international laws you’d never know were real.
The highest-ranking country in North America, Canada is ranked 122 spots above the United States which came in at No. 128 of 163 countries. Why is our Northern neighbor so far ahead on the peace train? A top-trading country, it boasts terrific job opportunities and good health facilities. Its population is about 37 million yet it is the world’s second-largest country (by landmass)—one of these facts you never knew about Canada.
A stable and transparent government is at the epicenter of this peaceful nation that operates under a constitutional monarchy. Universal healthcare and free higher education are just two of the perks of living in this peaceful country. Denmark is a founding member of NATO as well as many other international organizations. Butter cookies, bicycles and being the birthplace of LEGOs add to the list of attributes.
Austria has been at the top of the list for many years but took a slight dip this year. Although Austria has maintained an impeccable score for many of the GPI indicators, social unrest created the decline mainly due to protests after the election of Sebastian Kurz’s People Party and its partner the Freedom Party. Austria will forever be associated with the Sound of Music, not only for its association with the von Trapp family but for being the birthplace of composers such as Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss.
Portugal is part of Europe which maintained its position as the most peaceful region in the world, a position it held for every year of the GPI. This country was also named as the fifth most ‘family-friendly’ country in the world by UNICEF. Portugal is a founding member of NATO, the European Free Trade Association and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It’s also popular for tourists for being a destination where you can travel cheap and vacation large.
2. New Zealand
According to the report, “New Zealand maintained or improved its scores in 22 out of 23 indicators, but deteriorated in the impact of terrorism because of the March 2019 white-nationalist terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, in which 50 people were killed. Improvements in five other indicators across all three domains helped New Zealand maintain its No. 2 rank as the second most peaceful country in the world.” It’s also home to some pretty amazing glow worms.
Iceland continues its reign as #1 since 2008. Researchers applauded Iceland’s falling murder rate and increase in funding to United Nations peacekeeping. The land of ice and fire does not have an army and their police force does not carry guns. Low crime rates and harmony among the economic classes are two other reasons why Iceland remains the leader. Clean air and a small-town vibe add to the peace in Iceland where you will often see babies napping outside in their strollers. Iceland also practices equality for all. Next, look through these jaw-dropping photos of the world’s most beautiful countries.