The Most (and Least) Peaceful Countries in the World

Print Email

5) Japan
> GPI: 1.326
> Political terror scale: 1.5
> Access to small arms: 1
> Relations with neighboring countries: 3
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

According to the IEP, Japan is the second-most peaceful of the 25 nations in the Asia Pacific region, behind only New Zealand. The country has little internal conflict, and firearms are difficult to come by. However, Amnesty International chastised Japan for its capital punishment program, which carries out the clandestine hanging of prisoners without their foreknowledge. Additionally, Japan maintains frigid relations with some of its neighbors, the most important being China. However, Japan’s overall positive GPI score is supported by the nation’s responses to issues such as nuclear armament.

4) Canada
> GPI: 1.317
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 2
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1.5
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 2

Canada has been in the top 10 most peaceful countries in the world for four out of the past six years, only dropping out in 2008 and 2010 when the number of soldier fatalities in Afghanistan increased. The biggest strike against Canada’s peace score is that it has a relatively high military capability and sophistication, even though it presently is not involved in any conflict. Overall however, Canada has good relations with neighboring countries and is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canadians enjoy some of the world’s highest levels of civil liberties, including freedom of the press, trade unions and freedom to protest.

Also Read: States With the Fastest Growing Economies

3) New Zealand (tied for 2nd)
> GPI: 1.239
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 1
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

Every year since 2007, the IEP has ranked New Zealand as one of the world’s five most peaceful. This year, New Zealand tied with Denmark as the second-most peaceful of the 158 countries studied. A small proportion of its population in jail, limited military capacity and sophistication, and strong relations with Australia all help its score. New Zealand receives the best score possible on the Cignarelli and Richards (CIRI) Political Terror Scale. New Zealand also received the highest score in Amnesty International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating there is little suspicion of corruption in the country.

2) Denmark (tied for 2nd)
> GPI: 1.239
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 1
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

Denmark moved up two places this year, due in part to government budget cuts that decreased military spending, according to the IEP. The biggest strike Denmark has against its level of peace is the moderate sophistication and capabilities of its military. Denmark has the world’s smallest Gini coefficient — 24.7 — which means the country has a high level of income equality. With extremely low levels of violent crime and conflict, paired with political democracy and equality, the Danish enjoy a very high level of general peace. Denmark also has a notably high level of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

1) Iceland
> GPI: 1.113
> Political terror scale: 1
> Access to small arms: 1
> Relations with neighboring countries: 1
> Likelihood of violent demonstrations: 1

Iceland, a country with only about 320,000 residents, takes the top honors for the most peaceful country for the second year in a row. The small country recorded the best possible score on all but four of the criteria that determine levels of peace, including the best scores on the homicide rate, imports of major conventional weapons and the likelihood of violent demonstrations. Ironically, Iceland’s continued fiscal belt-tightening helped the country lower its score from last year. The Icelandic Defense Agency, which had a budget of $20 million in 2008, now has been disbanded, according to the IEP. The country has no standing army, and military expenses total just over 1% of GDP.

Read: The World’s Least Peaceful Countries