1/ Myroslava Bozhko // Shutterstock
Watching the international news doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence. Stories of violent conflict, nuclear threats, political intrigue, and humanitarian disasters around the globe seem to dominate the broadcasts on every channel. Even if your country has found peace and harmony within its borders, chances are it’s embroiled in some international drama.
Still, there are nations out there that manage to keep the mood calm and tranquil. Stacker used data from the Global Peace Index—the leading measure of peacefulness in the world—to list the 50 most peaceful countries in the world. The Institute for Economics & Peace’s GPI uses 23 qualitative and quantitative factors to come up with an index score for 163 countries around the world, covering 99.7% of the global population.
Three factors have the biggest impact on each country’s score: societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and militarization. Though the report suggests the level of worldwide peace decreased by 0.27% over the past year, the following 50 countries remain shining examples of nonviolence and tranquility. Read on to find out where your home country ranks on the list—if it does at all.
ALSO: World's safest countries
2/ Dronepicr // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.826
This Latin American country’s ranking reveals an interesting dynamic: The three most peaceful countries in the Central American region lie to the south while the least peaceful are all further north. Though Panama moved down four spots in the ranking from last year, it still ranked in the top 50 peaceful countries.
3/ Giuseppe Milo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.823
South Korea still has a relatively strong score on peacefulness, but deteriorated slightly year over year, likely due to its neighbor to the north. Although North Korea’s score did improve a bit from last year, the volatility of the negotiations between the two countries and the ongoing threat of nuclear warfare makes the region very dangerous.
4/ Jeremy T. Hetzel // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.822
Overall, Sub-Saharan Africa made some improvements in terrorism, violent crime, and militarization in the past year, but Zambia itself became slightly less peaceful in 2018. Civil unrest, large-scale protests, and explosive weapons leftover from past wars all make safety a concern.
5/ Jakub Hałun // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.821
A dangerous border with Burma, lingering unexploded ordinances, and the rise of petty theft all make Laos slightly less safe than it used to be. However, the nation still remains the 46th most peaceful country in the world.
6/ @berndthaller // Pxhere
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.821
Mongolia dropped just one spot in the rankings from 2017 to 2018, which indicates it’s just a tiny amount less safe. Occasional instances of violent crime and political unrest can make Mongolia sometimes dangerous for foreign nationals.
7/ Jan Smith // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.820
The United Arab Emirates moved up 12 spots in the Global Peace Index rankings from year to year. Still, the threat of regional terrorism, verbal, and physical attacks against women, and a contested water border with Iran all lead to security concerns in the UAE.
8/ Tsidoti // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.811
Malawi also climbed up in the rankings over the past year, showing an improvement in overall peacefulness. The most common threat to peace in Malawi is civil and political demonstrations that can occasionally become violent, usually directly before or after elections.
9/ Hansueli Krapf // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.806
Namibia also ascended in the rankings year over year. For visitors, accidents or breakdowns on unpaved roads are the biggest threat—a good sign for the country’s overall peace.
10/ Bashar Al-Ba'noon // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.799
Though the Middle East still remains the world’s least peaceful region, it did improve slightly year over year. Kuwait also increased its military spending year over year.
11/ George Appiah // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.772
Ghana made impressive gains in security and safety year over year, rising six spots in the overall peacefulness rankings. The most serious crimes that visitors need to be aware of are “snatch and grab” thefts on crowded city streets.
12/ kansasphoto // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.767
The most peaceful country in Central America and the Caribbean, Costa Rica doesn’t face the same threats of violent crime as many of its other neighbors do. Costa Rica has vastly improved its criminality scores over the last 10 years.
13/ Alessio Maffeis // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.766
Though this European nation rose slightly in the rankings year over year, it still isn’t a very peaceful place to live, largely due to rising nationalism and political conflict. The incarceration rate in Italy also continued to grow slowly.
14/ gadjet // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.766
Madagascar climbed four spots in the rankings from 2017. The biggest threats to peace are violent crimes like home invasions, kidnapping, and assaults, which are often committed by armed gangs.
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.761
Uruguay is the second most peaceful nation in South America. Still, high levels of street crime and violent demonstrations make it somewhat unsafe.
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.749
From 2017 to 2018, Lithuania climbed two spots in the rankings. In addition to the usual petty theft and pick-pocketing, Lithuania struggles with racially motivated attacks.
17/ Annie Spratt // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.740
The third most peaceful country in Sub-Saharan Africa, Sierra Leone is one of the least militarized states in the entire world. It moved up five spots in the rankings from year to year.
18/ Morgan Calliope // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.736
Though Taiwan is a relatively peaceful nation, its score did deteriorate slightly year over year. Violent crime and political terror in the region are responsible for the change.
19/ Diego Delso // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.732
This European country moved up three spots in the ranking from 2017 to 2018, falling near the middle of the pack for the region. The ongoing threat of terror in Europe and various political demonstrations are the only things that make Estonia dangerous for visitors.
20/ Corinne Cavallo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.727
Poland’s divisive yet controlling government simultaneously increased its scores in political stability and political terror, which led to an overall decline in its peacefulness score from year to year.
21/ Max Pixel
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.689
Latvia moved up just one spot in the rankings from year to year. Petty theft, internet scams, mugging, and pick-pocketing are the most common crimes that visitors will experience.
22/ Jebulon // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.678
The controversy over the Catalan independence vote and terrorist attacks in Barcelona made Spain less peaceful—it experienced one of the five biggest score deteriorations in 2017.
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.659
The most peaceful country in Sub-Saharan Africa, Botswana also has the best score in the world for ongoing conflict in the world.
24/ fahrenheit75 // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.649
Chile received the distinction of being the most peaceful nation in South America despite its proximity to Brazil, which is one of the least peaceful. It also had little ongoing domestic and international violence.
25/ Edwardwexler // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.639
Croatia had a large improvement in its safety and security scores and a decline in political terror and external conflict, leading it to climb four spots in the rankings in 2018.
26/ www.vacacionesbulgaria.com // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.635
Bulgaria rose two spots in the rankings from year to year. The biggest threat to Bulgaria’s peace is the threat of terrorist attacks in Europe.
27/ Max Pixel
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.619
Despite an increase in weapons imports in the past year, Malaysia actually climbed four spots in the rankings, coming in right in the middle of the pack at #25.
28/ Danfador // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.596
Romania had one of the largest year-over-year increases in its score through a reduction in external conflicts and political terror. It rose three spots.
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.574
Though the Netherlands is a very peaceful country overall, it did rank in the top 10 for countries with the highest weapons exporters per capita. The Netherlands also has weapons stored in other countries, which increases the country’s international power.
30/ Govisity.com // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.568
This Eastern European country also had a large year-over-year improvement primarily in safety and security, and external conflict.
31/ Jonatan Moerman // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.560
Belgium held steady at #21 from 2017 to 2018. The biggest threat to peace in the European country is the likelihood of terrorist attacks following the 2016 bombings.
32/ Tejcoomar Luchmun // Wikicommons
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.548
Mauritius took the top slot as the most peaceful country in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2018, but the country dropped one spot in the global rankings. Political unrest and petty crime remain the biggest safety threats.
33/ Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn) // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.545
The most peaceful country in South Asia, Bhutan rose five spots in the world rankings in 2018. Since the government is known for relying on Gross National Happiness as a measure of success rather than economic values, it’s no surprise that the country ranks so highly.
34/ alex hanoko // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.531
Germany tied with Hungary for #17 on the world rankings list, though Germany held its position while Hungary dropped two spots. Germany is one of the five countries that export more than three-fourths of the world’s weapons.
35/ Jorge Franganillo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.531
The strong nationalist government in Hungary caused a decline in its overall peacefulness as the level of political terror rose. However, it was the second most peaceful country on the militarization scale.
36/ Public Domain
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.519
With the second best score on safety and security in the world, Norway held steady at #16 on the global rankings. Though Norway has performed well in the rankings since 2013, it has steadily increased year over year.
37/ Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.506
Another Scandinavian country, Finland also performed well in the overall rankings, climbing three spots from 2017 to 2018. Like its neighbors, Finland was also among the most safe and secure places in the world.
38/ Phil Price // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.502
While Sweden remained in position 14 from 2017 to 2018, its overall score fell a bit from year to year. The primary cause for this deterioration was an increase in violent crime due to the 300-plus shootings in Sweden that year.
39/ Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.435
Australia increased its military capacity over the past year, leading to a slight reduction of overall peace. However, it remains the fourth most peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific region.
40/ wernerhense // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.407
This notoriously neutral European country also became less peaceful last year, dropping three spots in the overall rankings. Rising nationalism and weapons exports were the cause.
41/ Wall Boat // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.396
From 2017 to 2018, Slovenia fell just one spot in the global rankings. Overall, it is still one of the five least militarized countries in the world.
42/ Giuseppe Milo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.393
Ireland also has little militarization, but has seen consistent increases in incarceration rates over the years. Still, it moved up two spots in the global rankings.
43/ syvwlch // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.391
Though Japan has increased its militarization in the past year, its homicide rates have continued to trend downward over the last several years while its incarceration rate held steady. Overall, it remains the third most peaceful nation in the Asia-Pacific region.
44/ Richard // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.382
This Asian country had one of the largest improvements in its Global Peace Index score, though it only jumped three spots globally. The high safety and security score helped Singapore earn its spot.
45/ Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.381
A low level of militarization and low economic cost of violence helped the Czech Republic earn its high position on this list. The Eastern European country’s biggest dangers are the threat of terrorist attacks in the region.
46/ Scott Goodwill // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.372
Canada’s ranking remained unchanged from 2017 to 2018. However, the terrorist threat level did increase after the Quebec City mosque shooting.
47/ yeowatzup // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.353
Though Denmark clocks in as the fifth most peaceful country in the world, the perceptions of criminality have increased in the past year. A government survey found three quarters of respondents said they felt the threat of violence had increased in the past five years.
48/ Giuseppe Milo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.318
Even after dropping one spot on the overall rankings, Portugal still scored highly on peacefulness. Rising nationalism and political division can be held responsible.
49/ Jens Plinzler // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.274
Little ongoing domestic or international conflict, a low level of militarization, and high safety and security all helped Austria secure a spot in the top three of these rankings.
50/ Jasper van der Meij // Good Free Photos
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.192
New Zealand held steady at #2 from 2017 to 2018, thanks to insufficient conflict and militarization.
51/ Giuseppe Milo // Flickr
2018 Global Peace Index score: 1.096
For the 10th year in a row, Iceland received the honor of being named the most peaceful country in the world. The Scandinavian nation scored well on nearly all indicators of peace, from high levels of safety and security to low levels of militarization.