The nonprofit Institute for Economics & Peace’s annual Global Peace Index spotlights the most and least peaceful countries on Earth.
The report ranks peacefulness — or the lack of it — in 163 countries and territories, covering 99.7% of Earth’s population. The institute measures nations’ safety and security, participation in domestic and international conflict, and levels of militarization.
In the ranking, a higher score indicate less peace. The most peaceful nation earned a score of just 1.124. The most violent, Afghanistan, scored 3.448.
The United States, with 2.448 points, ranks 131st. Canada, with 1.35 points, is ranked 11th-most peaceful.
The study measures both the direct costs of violence and destruction and the indirect costs, like wages and productivity lost due to crime and economic activity that would have happened if not for violence.
Read on to see which are the most-peaceful countries, starting with the nation ranked No. 10 and ending with the safest country of all.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.339
When thinking of the most-peaceful nation you may have thought immediately of Switzerland — the tiny, landlocked European nation that has held to a stance of neutrality since 1516, according to the Swiss Broadcasting Corp.
Geneva, Switzerland, is home to more than 200 international organizations, including the International Red Cross and the European seat of the United Nations.
However, Switzerland is not ranked the world’s most-peaceful nation in this study. It comes in instead at No. 10.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.336
Japan, with a population of almost 124 million people, depends almost entirely on imported and foreign sources of energy, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The small nation is the world’s fourth-largest economic power, and its economy is highly diversified. However, Japan faces economic headwinds due to heavy debt, slow wage growth, a declining labor force and a stagnant tourism industry.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.334
Slovenia is a small central European country that was part (with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through much of the 20th century.
It has a little more than 2.1 million people, making it slightly smaller than Chicago in population.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.333
Portugal is a popular tourist destination.
The travel site World Nomads notes that, although Portugal is one of the safest places in Europe for visitors, petty crime is not uncommon. Car theft, bag snatching, pickpocketing and scams that target tourists are problems, especially in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.332
The Singapore passport is tops when it comes to visa-free access to nations around the world, according to Henley & Partners, a global investment company.
The Henley Passport index finds that holders of a Singapore passport are allowed access to 192 countries (out of 227) without the need for a visa. Henley’s ranking uses data from the International Air Transport Association.
That’s more than any other passport. Japan previously held or tied for that top spot for five years.
The next most-powerful passports: German, Italian and Spanish passports share second place, with visa-free access to 190 countries.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.316
Austria, too, is officially neutral on the world stage. Its neutrality dates to 1955 when the Soviet Union and allied powers recognized Austrian independence following World War II.
More than 40 international diplomatic organizations are based in Vienna.
4. New Zealand
State of Peace score for this country: 1.313
New Zealand, famed for its low crime rates and strict gun laws, is under pressure after a recent shooting in the capital city of Auckland in which two people died and 10 more were injured.
The BBC reports that some New Zealanders may be feeling less safe as a result, despite tightened regulations after the nation’s deadliest attack, the 2019 Christchurch shooting, which killed 51 Muslims. Gun violence, however, remains relatively rare in the country.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.312
When you think of Ireland, you may also think of Northern Ireland, a separate state where violent conflict killed at least 3,500 people between the late 1960s and late 1990s.
“The Troubles,” as that period is known, is over. An historic agreement, in 1998, created a power-sharing government and disarmament. The violence of that time pitted a mostly Catholic nationalistic movement that wanted to leave the United Kingdom and Protestants who largely favored the existing British rule.
The 5.1 million people of the Republic of Ireland to the south, however, are an independent nation. The Republic of Ireland occupies most of the island of Ireland and belongs to the European Union.
According to the Irish government, homicides fell by 38% between the second quarters of 2021 and 2022.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.31
Denmark has a laidback culture, explains the official International Students’ Survival Guide to Life in Denmark. “Danish culture and everyday life is based on a high degree of mutual trust and tolerance,” the publication says.
Denmark enjoys a low crime rate. Also, the guide adds, “… work-life balance is valued in Denmark, so you will rarely get extra points for working extra or overtime.” The idea, instead, is to work smarter, not harder.
State of Peace score for this country: 1.124
Iceland is nothing if not stable. The Global Peace Index has since 2008 consistently ranked Iceland as the world’s most-peaceful nation.
Tiny Iceland, with its 360,872 people (in 2023), has no standing military force, the CIA World Factbook says. It enjoys a low crime rate and a strong educational and welfare system.
The Icelandic legislative assembly, the Althingi, is the oldest functioning legislative body in the world; it was established in 930 A.D.