While on holiday most folks would like to avoid the world's trouble spots and focus on the most peaceful places. But where are and which are the most peaceful countries in the world? Well, it so happens that there is an annual Global Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace.

But just because a country gets a bad score, doesn't mean that one shouldn't visit the country. Even dangerous countries can be safe if one has reliable and accurate information and is aware and follows the right advice. One can also refer to countries' official international travel advice and see what the government recommends and cautions.

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Peace In The Real World Is Complicated

It should be noted that what makes a country peaceful or not is very complex and creating a list where all the data points are boiled down into a single numbered score ignores the complexity of the real world. Also, bad things happen everywhere so the list does not mean that one can be carefree.

  • Caution: Even In The Most "Peaceful" Places One Should Still Exercise Normal Precautions

A country may also be dangerous in one place, but not another. Everyone knows there are places in some American cities that one should be cautious about visiting while other neighborhoods are very safe.

Some countries like the Republic of Georgia have places that no one should visit (they are considered occupied), while the rest of the country is considered very safe.

The nature of the danger can also be very different. It can be that the country is heavily militarized but there is little crime. In some places, the threat is war while in others its general crime.

Remember no where in the world is a perfect utopia (and fewer places than many think are a true hell either).

Related: Stay Safe In Central South America: Tips, Tricks, Dos, & Don'ts

How The Global Peace Index Works

The Global Peace Index measures the relative position of the countries' peacefulness. In total, 163 independent states and territories are ranked. The ranking takes in data collected by the Economist Intelligence Unit and with input from various think tanks and experts. The index is data-driven.

The index investigates any ongoing domestic and international conflicts and evaluates the level of harmony or discord within the country. The index measures the peacefulness of countries with 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators each weighted on a scale of 1-5. The lower the score the more peaceful the country.

Examples of broad indicators used include:

  • Level of Crime Rates
  • Incidences of Terrorist Acts and Violent Demonstrations
  • Relations with Neighboring Countries
  • Political Stability
  • The proportion of Internally Displaced People or Refugees

Unfortunately, the trend over the last few years has been mostly negative and the gap between the most and least peaceful countries has grown. Hopefully, this will reverse in the future.

Related: These Tips Will Help You Stay Safe While Traveling To Dangerous Cities

The List And The Most Peaceful Countries In The World

The most peaceful country was Iceland. That's understandable when one considers that it is a small country of around 400,000 people with no neighbors and has no army (it only has a coast guard with vessels and four planes). After that New Zealand was the most peaceful. The United States was given a low score of 2.337 being ranked as the 122nd most peaceful out of 163 countries (just above South Africa).

According to the 2021 Global Peace Index, the most peaceful countries are:

  • Iceland: Score 1.100
  • New Zealand: Score 1.253
  • Denmark: Score 1.256
  • Portugal: Score 1.267
  • Slovenia: Score 1.315
  • Austria: Score 1.317
  • Switzerland: Score 1.323
  • Ireland: Score 1.326
  • Czech Republic: Score 1.329
  • Canada: Score 1.330

Fortunately, all these countries are also some of the world's most stunning and rewarding countries to visit. Almost all of them are renowned for their stunning landscapes and outdoor settings. Also, most of the countries are very easy for first-time travelers with most countries on the list either speaking English or having populations very well versant in English.

That the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq were seen to be the least peaceful. These countries will not come as a surprise to many and they are on few people's bucket lists.

  • Least Peaceful Countries: Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq
  • Most Peaceful States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Utah

For those interested, they also have a peace index for the United States by state. The states are measured with 5 indicators: homicide, violent crime, incarceration, police employees, and small arms. The most peaceful states were ranked as Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Utah. The least peaceful state was Lousiana.

Usefully, if they also have a peace index for the states of Mexico. So take a look at that if one is planning to visit America's southern neighbor.

Next: Antarctica: Disputed Continent Turned International Peace Territory