Special Report

The Least Peaceful Countries in the World

So far, 2022 has been a year marked by an escalation of violence and militarism in much of the world. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an alarming rise in Chinese military spending, and violently suppressed protests in Iran, the world is a less peaceful place than it was a year ago. And it seems to be a continuation of a longer-term global trend. 

According to the 2022 Global Peace Index from the Institute for Economics & Peace, global peacefulness declined by 0.3% in 2022, the 11th year in the last 14 years that the world has grown more violent. 

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. 

As the world is becoming increasingly violent, some countries stand out as less peaceful than others. Using data from the 2022 GPI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 35 least peaceful countries in the world.

The majority of countries on this list are located in Africa and Asia. Many of these places, like Israel and Palestine or India and Pakistan are adversaries who share heavily militarized borders that often erupt in violence – and three of those four countries and territories are armed with nuclear weapons. Other countries in these regions, such as Myanmar, Ethiopia, and Yemen, are in the throes of civil war. (Here is a look at the most devastating battles in recent history.)

Notably, several countries on this list have seen varying levels of U.S. military intervention in recent years, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The U.S. itself is one of the few highly-developed democratic nations to rank among the 35 least peaceful countries in the world, largely because of high-levels of militarization. The U.S. far outspends every other nation on defense, and it trails only Israel and Russia in its GPI militarization index score. (Here is a look a the largest U.S. weapons contracts of 2022.)

According to estimates from the 2022 GPI report, the economic impact of violence in the countries on this list is steep. Total expenditure and economic effect related to containing, preventing, and dealing with the consequences of violence is in the hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars each year in many of the countries on this list.

Click here to see the least peaceful countries in the world.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story, GDP per capita figures were incorrectly attributed to 2021 for Venezuela, South Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan. The story has been updated to reflect the correct year. 

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