By many yardsticks, Afghanistan is one of the worst places to live in the world. According to the World Bank, GDP per capita in current U.S. dollars was a mere $517 in 2020, among the lowest in the world. There are also over a dozen terrorist organizations in the country, which has been in a constant state of war for decades. 2019 marked the sixth straight year where civilian deaths have topped 10,000.
Is it any wonder that when the nonprofit Vision of Humanity organization published its 2022 Global Peace Index, Afghanistan was 163rd among all nations considered, which put it dead last as the least peaceful country in the world. In the sub-index of societal safety and security, the country of nearly 40 million also ranked last, while it ranked second worst in the ongoing conflicts sub-index and 12th worst in the militarization sub-index. (See where Afghanistan ranks among the countries hit hardest by terrorists.)
The expenditure and cost to contain, prevent, and deal with violence in the country amounted to $34.2 billion – a whopping 30% of GDP – in 2021. (By different measures, Afghanistan ranks among the poorest countries in the world.)
The pace of violence and control of the population in the country may have picked up this year following the final withdrawal of U.S. troops in August 2021 and the ensuing islamic fundamentalist Taliban takeover. Universities were recently closed to women as were secondary schools. There is growing concern about a new civil war or war with its neighbors. More military conflict would undermine an already deeply troubled economy.
The humanitarian problems of Afghanistan have grown since the Taliban established control. The World Food Programme reports that 90% of the population does not have enough to eat. As winter approaches, many people will not have enough fuel to make it through what may be a very cold winter.
Finally, there is no outside organization to ride to Afghanistan’s rescue. The International Monetary Fund, well known for helping financially troubled countries, has cut off the nation’s access to its money after the Taliban’s takeover.
A number of countries have problems nearly as bad as Afghanistan’s. Even as the world is becoming increasingly violent – global peacefulness declined by 0.3% in 2022, the 11th year in the last 14 years that the world has grown more violent, according to the Global Peace Index – some countries continue to stand out as less peaceful than others.
The GPI is calculated using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of the absence of violence or fear of violence. These measures, which include political instability, deaths stemming from conflict, and defense spending, fall into one of three distinct categories: ongoing domestic and international conflict, societal safety and security, and militarization.
See 24/7 Wall St. list of the least peaceful countries in the world.
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