The Most (and Least) Peaceful Countries in the World

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The Most Peaceful Countries

10) Switzerland
> GPI: 1.349
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 2
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

The Swiss maintain an open political culture and a well-functioning government, according to IEP. Illustrating the quality of Switzerland’s government, the country received the lowest possible score for political instability. While famed for its neutrality in global, international and regional political issues, Switzerland maintains strong relations with other nations in its region. However, the country has compulsory military service and exports more weapons, relative to its size, than any country in Europe.

9) Finland
> GPI: 1.348
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 2
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 2

Since at least 2007, Finland has been among the 10 most peaceful countries ranked by the IEP, falling slightly from its rank of seventh last year. According to the report, this is due to improvement in the levels of peace in other countries rather than any declines in Finland itself. The state has a policy of strategic neutrality, and it is one of the few countries in the region to opt out of applying for NATO membership. The state scores very well across the board for measures of democracy, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the effectiveness of democracy.

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8) Slovenia
> GPI: 1.330
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 1
> Relations with neighboring countries: 2
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 2

Slovenia was ranked the most peaceful of the 29 nations in Central and Eastern Europe. Explaining Slovenia’s ranking, the IEP cites low levels of violent crimes, a low proportion of the population in jail and an extremely low homicide rate. Though many of the countries formerly constituting Yugoslavia have struggled to maintain peace and adequate human rights, according the U.S. Department of State, “Slovenia has made great progress in establishing democratic institution [and] enshrining respect for human rights.”

7) Ireland
> GPI: 1.328
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 2
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 2

Although Ireland is typically in the top 10 rankings for the most peaceful countries, in 2009 and 2011 it dropped out because of “economic and political crises,” the IEP explains. Ireland reentered the top 10 in 2012 by reducing its military expenditure to just 1.2% of its gross domestic product and by increasing its political stability, which has far-reaching effects on internal peace. Unlike most of the other peaceful countries, Ireland has slightly elevated levels of organized internal conflict. This is due to disputes between parts of the Protestant Unionist community and parts of the Catholic Nationalist community.

6) Austria
> GPI: 1.328
> Political terror scale: 1.5
> Access to small arms: 2
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 2

Austria ranked as the third-most peaceful country in Europe, due in part to minimal violence and political conflict within the country. Austria’s equitable distribution of income may be partially responsible for the absence of such conflicts. The country maintains warm ties with neighboring nations. According the U.S. State Department, Austria has also been active in “bridge-building to the East” by maintaining close ties to Eastern European countries. And the country spends just 0.6% of its GDP on its military and has low violent crime and homicide rates.