The world is fraught with violence and hatred. From the South China Sea waters where Malaysia, China, and the Philippines are locked in a bitter struggle for supremacy, to the arid battlegrounds of the Middle East, peace seems to be on the backfoot. Nonetheless, the Global Peace Index (GPI) is published every year to gauge how peaceful a country or a region is. It’s prepared by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) and is the most definitive index that ranks the most peaceful countries in the world. Data scientists from IEP and the Economic Intelligence Unit considers crime, relations with neighbours, absence of war, schooling, contribution to UN peace missions, and several similar factors to come up with the GPI every year.
10 Most Peaceful Countries in the World
Here’s the 2016 world peaceful countries list. The GPI score is given in parentheses. The one with the lowest score is the happiest.
10. Czech Republic (1.341)
The tiny landlocked European country shares its borders with Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. It’s one of the safest European countries where tourism is a major industry. Capital Prague is among the most visited cities in Europe. The crimes rate in the country is one of the lowest in the world with robbery and violence a rarity. It has adequate emergency services for ensuring safety to foreign tourists. Czech Republic has a global population because of large-scale migration and bars and restaurants are generously spread across the country. A safe and cheap public transportation system connects all the corners.
9. Australia (1.329)
Down Under is a land of natural wonders, good weather, efficient infrastructure, world class education system, and opportunities. The rate of homicide, robbery and sexual assault is very low. You can roam around Australia with no fear. It has a multi-cultural population that makes you feel at home, and is a perfect destination for tourists, students, and job hunters. The country votes in large numbers (as high as 93%) which proves how important governance is to an Australian. It’s also among the least corrupt countries in the world. Australia also ranks high in the water quality index and has negligible pollution.
8. Japan (1.322)
One of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, Japan is known for its internal peace. There’s almost no violence and killing in Japan. It’s one of the very few countries with no professional army. The Japan Self-Defence Forces is the unified military unit and is largely used for internal security. It has cordial relations with all its neighbours. Besides being one of the most peaceful countries in the world, Japan is also among the top three global economies with a GDP of $5,960,180 million. The railways are at the core of the country’s hugely popular public transport system. No train delays more than 10-16 seconds.
7. Canada (1.287)
According to an Organisation for Economic Control and Development (OECD) report, the life satisfaction score in Canada is 7.6 on a scale of 10. Its government attaches highest importance to the security of its citizens. Canada, stretching from the Pacific to Atlantic and northwards to the Arctic, has a 58% tertiary educated population. It boasts of a 61% voter turnout which indicates the people’s trust in the government. Canada has one of the lowest unemployment rates at 6.6%. The country abolished capital punishment four decades back.
6. Finland (1.277)
The country that gave us Angry Birds. Besides being a regular in the world peace index, Finland is also among the cleanest countries of the world. A strong legal framework maintains accountability and transparency in all government activities. The country’s army participates only in US peace missions. Finland tops the peace index global ranking in education and gender equality. Education is free at all levels and the Finnish people are high performers in science and mathematics. Both maternal and child mortality rates are among the lowest in the world.
5. Switzerland (1.275)
Some of the cleanest cities, superb food, and low crime rates help Switzerland rank among the most peaceful countries in the world. It boasts of superb education and healthcare facilities. Salaries are high and taxes liberal in Switzerland. The country, in fact, is often considered as a tax haven. The Swiss are the forerunners regarding the use of renewable energy and eco-friendly products and are among the top greenest countries of the world. And that’s evident with the extensive cycling routes Switzerland has. Nestled in the Alps, it’s one of the most picturesque countries to spend a vacation.
4. New Zealand (1.221)
The country divided by a sea, New Zealand has made remarkable progress in social development, low incarceration, and maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours (not that there are many though). Backed by a committed police force and an independent and responsible judiciary, New Zealand has made it to the peace index global ranking for several years now. An advanced education and healthcare system makes Australia’s closest neighbour one of the most peaceful countries.
3. Austria (1.198)
Characterised by the Alpine villages, imperial history, and baroque architecture, Austria is not only among the most peaceful countries, it also ranks high on living standards. Czech Republic’s neighbour is known for its standard of cleanliness and strict recycling laws to protect its ecosystem. Though not among the most religious countries, Austria ranks as one of the richest in terms of nominal per capita GDP. The country attracts hordes of tourists each year who arrive to bask in the warmth of this beautiful country.
2. Denmark (1.150)
The beautiful Scandinavian country, comprising three major landmasses, is the world’s least corrupt country. Advanced healthcare, high literacy, and near-absence of crime has made Denmark a regular in the list of peaceful countries. Besides, superb civic standards make it immensely liveable. Citizens of Copenhagen prefer walking or riding bicycles to work as they want to make the city carbon neutral by 2025. The social welfare system of the Danes promises free health and education which helps them to strike a work-life balance because of high taxation. The country is one of the best examples of gender equality with a strong women presence in politics, administration, education, and corporate management. Certainly an ideal country to look up to.
1. Iceland (1.148)
The 2016 GPI index topper of the most peaceful countries, Iceland has retained the spot since 2011. This once-settlement of Viking explorers and the slaves they brought, is today one of the most progressive nations boasting of a 100% literacy rate. Iceland successfully overcame the 2008-11 banking crisis and is now firmly on the path of economic prosperity. A country with no standing army and minimal military expenditures, Iceland is known for promoting tolerance, which keeps crime and violence to the minimum. Blessed with magnificent landscapes, glaciers, and natural geysers, Iceland attracts tourists from all corners of the world. No wonder Iceland is one of the happiest countries in the world.
The GPI is drawn up every year since May 2007 to rank the most peaceful countries of the world. The study is the brainchild of Australian technocrat Steve Killelea, and endorsed by world luminaries like the Dalai Lama, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jimmy Carter. Level of security and safety in the society, extent of international and domestic conflict, and the degree of militarisation are the three main parameters used in ranking the most peaceful country.