The Global Peace Index is back for 2023, revealing the countries with the least crime, violence, corruption and more.
When you’re off on your travels, there are very few things quite so important as simply feeling safe. Whether you’re travelling solo or as a member of a marginalised community, you don’t want to be stressed about your wellbeing – if you do have to worry about that kind of stuff, it can be really, really terrifying.
All of which makes the Global Peace Index, an annual ranking of the world’s safest countries by the Institute of Economics and Peace, always worth a look. The GPI ranks countries on a huge range of factors, from levels of violence and crime to terrorism and international conflicts.
So which country came out on top of this year’s GPI? Well, that’d be Iceland. Any readers who’ve followed the GPI over the years won’t be particularly surprised: Iceland has topped the poll every year since all the way back in 2008. Thanks to its low crime rates but also low military spending and low rates of international conflict, Iceland is, once again, the safest country in the world.
Second in the list was Denmark, in part due to its low levels of government corruption, whilst third was Ireland, which has jumped up five places since 2022’s poll. Australia came 22nd, the UK came 37th and the USA came 131st.
Here are the top ten safest countries in the world right now, according to the Global Peace Index.
- New Zealand
You can read more for yourself and take a peek at the GPI’s interactive map on the official website here.
Safety is not a mere luxury or a chance result of geographical advantage. It is a critical asset that attracts investment and economic gain. However, safety is not a cultural monopoly nor a geographical dividend. No culture or region is inherently ‘unstable.’ The safety or danger within a nation’s borders is the complex result of intricate factors and histories. However, to assess is another matter; and to do that, the Global Peace Index (GPI) produces yearly rankings that judge each country in a standardized format.
Essentially, the Institute for Economics and Peaces produces the GPI, which measures worldwide peace using three overarching categories: the state of societal safety and security; the scope of internal or international disputes; and the level of military involvement. By compiling this data, the GPI provides a comprehensive analysis of the safety of 163 countries worldwide. For reference, the lower the score, the safer the country. However, it is worth noting that exceptions can occur in these annual rankings due to temporary causes of instability
The Global Peace Index 2023 has been released, showcasing the safest countries in terms of crime, violence, corruption, and more. When embarking on a journey, feeling secure is of utmost importance, whether traveling alone or as part of a marginalized group. The Global Peace Index, curated by the Institute of Economics and Peace, offers valuable insights. It assesses various factors such as crime rates, terrorism, and international conflicts to rank countries.
This year’s top-ranking country on the GPI is Iceland, a result consistent with its continuous position at the pinnacle since 2008. Iceland’s safety is attributed to its low crime rates, minimal military expenditure, and limited involvement in international conflicts. Denmark secured the second spot due in part to its low levels of government corruption, while Ireland experienced a significant improvement, climbing five places since the previous year’s rankings. Notably, Australia ranked 22nd, the UK 37th, and the USA 131st.
- The top ten safest countries according to the Global Peace Index are as follows:
- New Zealand,
- Japan, and
To explore further and access the GPI’s interactive map, visit the official website.
Safety plays a vital role in attracting investment and fostering economic prosperity, transcending cultural boundaries and geographical advantages. The safety or insecurity within a nation’s borders results from complex factors and historical contexts.
To evaluate this aspect, the Global Peace Index provides standardized yearly rankings. The Institute for Economics and Peace compiles the GPI, assessing worldwide peace through three primary categories: societal safety and security, internal or international disputes, and military involvement. With data from 163 countries, the GPI offers a comprehensive analysis of global safety. It’s important to note that temporary causes of instability can lead to exceptions in these annual rankings.
Top 5 Safest Countries
- Iceland – 1.107
- New Zealand – 1.269
- Ireland – 1.288
- Denmark – 1.296
- Austria – 1.3
Iceland – 1.107
Iceland’s status as the world’s safest country is attributable to several key factors that collectively create an environment of security and tranquility. To begin with, Iceland boasts a low population of about 394,500 inhabitants, allowing for a close-knit society where community ties are strong. This engenders a sense of belonging and mutual care, reducing the likelihood of conflicts and violent crime.
Secondly, Iceland’s political landscape is defined by a high degree of stability, transparency, and democratic governance. The corruption perception index consistently ranks Iceland among the least corrupt nations (#14 in 2023). The strong emphasis on the rule of law, coupled with a well-functioning government, fosters a sense of trust among the citizens and reduces instances of civil unrest or political violence.
Thirdly, the island nation benefits from a remarkably low crime rate. The homicide rate in Iceland is one of the lowest globally, with less than one murder per year on average. The country’s proactive, community-focused policing, together with effective judicial processes, contribute significantly to this.
Iceland enjoys a high standard of living, with its citizens benefiting from comprehensive social security, universal healthcare, and free education. These factors help mitigate social inequalities, which can often be sources of tension and violence. In addition, the unemployment rate is relatively low, further contributing to social stability.
Lastly, the country’s geographical isolation plays a role in its safety. Iceland’s remote location, surrounded by the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, limits exposure to external threats and conflicts. In a way, it is a fortress of company, rather than solitude.
New Zealand – 1.269
Political stability in New Zealand stems from its mature democratic system, with low levels of corruption, as reflected in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, where New Zealand regularly tops the list. The system fosters open dialogue, encourages citizen participation, and like Iceland, upholds the rule of law.
Moreover, the country’s low crime rate is notable, with homicide rates significantly lower than the global average. New Zealand’s approach to public safety focuses on preventative measures, comprehensive rehabilitation, and a justice system that values restorative practices over punitive ones.
The social fabric of New Zealand is characterized by strong levels of societal trust and cohesion, further bolstered by inclusive social policies and the government’s commitment to maintaining good social services. It stands as a leading nation in terms of gender equality, further demonstrating societal harmony.
In terms of external peace, New Zealand’s isolation and neutrality contribute to its safety. It maintains a non-aggressive foreign policy and does not participate in major global conflicts. Furthermore, the nation’s well-functioning government is highly capable of managing potential internal and external threats, by maintaining robust disaster response protocols. The country’s strong education system, access to healthcare, and the general well-being of its citizens, all recognized by high Human Development Index rankings, underline the comprehensive approach to safety that sets New Zealand apart.
Ireland – 1.288
Firstly, Ireland’s laudable low crime rates, particularly violent crimes, continually assure its citizens and visitors that they are in good hands. For instance, the nation’s homicide rate is estimated at less than 1 per 100,000 people annually, significantly below the global average. Moreover, Ireland’s stringent gun control laws, yield a firearm possession rate of approximately 5.6 per 100 residents, which contributes significantly to its peaceful atmosphere.
Secondly, Ireland’s political stability is another crucial factor. Its Corruption Perception Index, falling below 20, is a testament to its clean, functioning, and stable political system, strengthening societal peace. Additionally, Ireland’s Human Rights Index score is also high, reflecting its strong commitment to upholding civil liberties.
Lastly, the country’s positive relationships with other nations further bolster its ranking. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Ireland has an impressively low score, indicating an almost non-existent risk of international or domestic terrorism. Similarly, its involvement in international conflicts is extremely minimal.
Denmark – 1.296
Denmark’s penchant for safety is thanks to a handful of factors. Low violent crime rates and an advanced justice system contribute significantly; as of 2023, Denmark had a low homicide rate of 0.95 per 100,000 inhabitants. The country’s small population size (approximately 5.98 million) lends itself to less social and economic friction. A well-developed welfare state ensures comprehensive social security, bolstered by one of the world’s highest GDP per capita figures (over $66,000 in 2022).
Furthermore, peaceful relations with neighboring countries decrease Denmark’s risk of interstate conflicts, while limited involvement in global military operations translates into a low militarization score. Notably, the nation also invests significantly in education and healthcare, ranking 2nd globally in social progress in 2022, which invariably influences societal stability. Lastly, high levels of societal trust, reflected by the 2023 World Happiness Report, where Denmark placed 2nd, further underscores its peaceful status.
Austria – 1.3
As a member of the European Union, Austria also benefits from regional peace and security mechanisms. The Austrian government’s continued emphasis on political stability and democratic governance further contributes, with Freedom House scoring Austria 93/100 for political rights and civil liberties in 2022. Lastly, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP remains minimal, 0.7% in 2022, in line with Austria’s longstanding commitment to non-aggression. Crime rates in Austria, particularly violent crime, are considerably low. In 2022, Austria reported a homicide rate of 0.7 per 100,000 people. Regarding economic strength, it boasts a stable GDP and low unemployment rate, which as of the last quarter of 2022 stood at 7.1%. Ultimately, the cumulative result of these attributes ensures Austria’s consistent presence amongst the top 10 safest countries globally.
Temporary Instability In Nations That Are Typically Safe
Safety perceptions of countries like Syria and Ukraine are often skewed by temporary instabilities, obscuring their inherent security conditions. The volatility of geopolitical conditions often triggers this distortion. Recent conflicts may enhance international scrutiny and media coverage, leading to perceptions of chronic instability, despite these being transient phases in a nation’s history.
For instance, Syria’s safety score in 2023 might be lower because of the civil war that lasted a decade and began to wane around 2022. However, before the conflict, Syria had a higher safety score due to factors such as effective law enforcement, social stability, and a low crime rate. The same applies to Ukraine, which experienced a dip in safety scores following the 2014 annexation of Crimea but had a traditionally stable sense of security beforehand.
Post-conflict, countries usually return to their pre-crisis safety levels, as seen with London after WWII. Hence, conflating temporary instability with a nation’s overall safety is a common misconception. Future safety predictions should account for a nation’s historical stability, institutional resilience, and capacity for post-conflict reconstruction.
As illustrated through examples like Iceland and Ireland, security and peace are products of diverse factors, ranging from political stability, low crime rates, social cohesion, economic prosperity, and even geographical isolation. Furthermore, the notion of safety is dynamic, subject to alterations by ongoing geopolitical tensions, as the cases of Syria and Ukraine show. Therefore, while assessing a nation’s safety, it is imperative not to isolate its present circumstances, but to comprehend broader trends in its historical context. However, by setting a high standard, many of these countries prove to the rest of the world that high stability and security are not the fictitious dreams of utopian novelists, but achievable realities here and now.
The 50 Safest Nations On Earth
*Source: Global Peace Index (2022)