The Most (and Least) Peaceful Countries in the World

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The Least Peaceful Countries

10) Pakistan
> GPI: 2.833
> Political terror scale: 5
> Access to small arms: 4
> Relations with neighboring countries: 4
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 4

The highest GPI indicator for Pakistan is the political terror scale — the most highly correlated internal indicator for less peaceful countries. Pakistan received the highest rating possible under this scale, which means that the country’s leaders have “no limits on the thoroughness with which they pursue personal or ideological goals.” The entire population experiences political violence, terror and integrity rights violations, based on the CIRI Human Rights Data Project’s scoring criteria. Pakistan received one of the worst possible scores for its relations with neighboring countries, due in large part to its border conflict with India over a portion of the Kashmir region, a conflict that has persisted since 1947.

9) Israel
> GPI: 2.842
> Political terror scale: 4
> Access to small arms: 3
> Relations with neighboring countries: 4
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 3

Peace continues to be a problem in Israel, even though its ranking has decreased in the past three years. The most pressing issues are its political terror scale and relations with neighboring countries, both of which have a 4 out of 5, nearly the worst possible score. That means that a large part of the population experiences political violence and that Israel has open conflicts with neighboring countries. According to the IEP, “Israel remains in a formal ‘state of war’ with its northern neighbours, Syria and Lebanon, and relations with much of the Arab world and Iran remained highly strained.” Paired with this conflict, Israel has the least peaceful score for heavy weapons and military capability.

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8) Central African Republic
> GPI: 2.872
> Political terror scale: 4.5
> Relations with neighboring countries: 3
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 3

In the Central African Republic, easy access to small arms and a high level of organized internal conflict, represented by scores of 5 and 4 respectively, are two of the largest impediments to peace. This conflict is largely due to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that attacks villages, abducts people and has become infamous for creating child soldiers. The Central African Armed Forces, the country’s national military, has been relatively ineffective in protecting citizens from rebel group attacks and has contributed to human rights violations. The country also had a perceived criminality score of 5, the worst score possible. According to the IEP, citizens of a country receiving that score are “living in constant fear of violence between groups.”

7) North Korea
> GPI: 2.932
> Political terror scale: 5
> Access to small arms: 4
> Relations with neighboring countries: 5
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

Political terror is highly present in North Korea, which has had a tripling in the number of public executions this year, following the succession of Kim Jong-il by his son, Kim Jong-un. The sinking of a South Korean naval vessel has exacerbated North Korea’s poor relations with its southern neighbor, almost bringing the two nations to war. The country is also heavily militarized, spending an estimated 20% of GDP on its military — the highest such figure in the world. North Korea likely views this as necessary in order to maintain its missile program and its demilitarized zone. The country also is especially corrupt, even apart from the authoritarian ruling of the Kims. From the 1970s through the 2000s, numerous government officials were arrested for trafficking in drugs abroad.

6) Russia
> GPI: 2.938
> Political terror scale: 4
> Access to small arms: 4
> Relations with neighboring countries: 3
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 3

The high levels of political terror and perceived corruption mean that many Russians experience human rights violations and are aware of corruption in the current administration. According to Transparency International, government censorship, low levels of officials following the rule of law, and very little control over corruption make Russia one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Also contributing to low levels of peace is that Russia engages in open conflict with the North Caucasus region, including parts of Georgia and Russian territories like Dagestan and Chechnya. According to the IEP, the ethnically diverse Caucasus region is subject to high levels of violence and ambushes against local authorities, but there is still a moderate level of organized internal conflict in the country because other regions are relatively peaceful.