Photo: Promote Iceland
Iceland, Denmark, and Austria are the three safest countries in the world.
That's the finding of this year's Global Peace Index (GPI), published annually by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The study rates 163 countries based on 23 factors, including violent crime, political terror, import/export of weapons, refugee influx, and violent demonstrations.
Rounding out the Top Ten peaceful destinations are New Zealand, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, and Slovenia.
Despite terror events in Belgium and France, and the conflicts arising from the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, Europe last year remained “the most peaceful geographical region in the world,” the Institute said.
Panama recorded the largest score improvement in this year’s GPI, rising 24 positions to 49th.
“The biggest improvement in peacefulness occurred in the Central America and Caribbean region,” with an average improvement of 2%, the Institute reported. Costa Rica was considered the safest country in the two regions, ranked 33, while Trinidad and Tobago ranked 84.
The gap between the most and least peaceful countries continued to grow last year, mostly due to war and internal strife.
“The majority of the global deterioration is due to the developments in the Middle East and Africa (MENA), already the least peaceful region in the world,” the organization reported. When the MENA is separated out, the rest of the world’s average peace levels improved.
According to the Institute, 81 countries became more peaceful, while 79 became more violent.
There were no surprises on the least peaceful destinations. The three most dangerous were Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq. But high on the list were countries more familiar to global travelers: Turkey ranked 145 out of 163 countries, and Russia was 151.
The United States ranked 103rd safest. Brazil (site of the Summer Olympics this year) 105th and Mexico 140th.