With news outlets covering mostly violence and crime 24/7, it’s hard not to feel secure in this world. That doesn’t mean safe and happy places do not exist, though. So to lighten up your day, have a look at this list of the most peaceful countries of the world.
While no country is safe from any form of violence, crime, or injustice, some experience far less of it. It’s a privilege to wander through quaint cobblestoned villages or explore vibrantly lit-up cities without clutching your belongings.
So if you want to know where the most peaceful countries are right now, keep reading.
Before we dive in though, you might also enjoy reading up on the most famous landmarks in the world.
The 8 Pillars of Positive Peace
Table of Contents
- The 8 Pillars of Positive Peace
- 1. Well-functioning Government
- 2. Sound Business Environment
- 3. Equitable Distribution of Resources
- 4. Acceptance of the Rights of Others
- 5. Good Relations with Neighbours
- 6. Free Flow of Information
- 7. High Levels of Human Capital
- 8. Low Levels of Corruption
- The Most Peaceful Countries of the World
- 1. Iceland
- 2. New Zealand
- 3. Ireland
- 4. Denmark
- 5. Austria
- 6. Portugal
- 7. Slovenia
- 8. Czech Republic
- 9. Singapore
- 10. Japan
- 11. Switzerland
- 12. Canada
- 13. Hungary
- 14. Finland
- 15. Croatia
- 16. Germany
- 17. Norway
- 18. Malaysia
- 19. Bhutan
- 20. Slovakia
- 21. Netherlands
- Wrapping Up the Most Peaceful Countries of the World
For the sake of clarity, let’s look at the 8 factors that make up a peaceful country. These criteria help the Global Peace Index (GPI) determine and rank how peaceful a nation is. So by using the 2022 GPI score, I’ve been able to create this list of top-scoring countries.
1. Well-functioning Government
A well-functioning government is trustworthy, upholds the rule of law, and delivers quality public and civil services. Citizens who can rely on their government for essential services without unfair or discriminatory practices will be less likely to turn to rebellion and protest when expressing their concerns.
2. Sound Business Environment
A strong economy and well-established formal institutions are vital to having a stable business environment. This, in turn, creates ample space for economic growth, business opportunities, and healthy competition. Creating conditions that enable financial security to flourish and a high employment rate is synonymous with a peaceful society.
3. Equitable Distribution of Resources
Nothing stirs up conflict quite like unfair and biased treatment. Peaceful nations are more likely to offer equal access to resources such as health care, security, and education.
4. Acceptance of the Rights of Others
For everything to be harmonious, it’s important that we respect each other’s basic human rights and freedoms. This is why you’ll see that many peaceful countries have formal laws in place to protect individual rights.
5. Good Relations with Neighbours
Having positive internal and external relationships ensures more harmony within a country. The room for conflict to grow decreases when people of different religions, ethnicities, and cultures get along. The same goes for relationships with neighboring countries.
6. Free Flow of Information
Restricted information affects the amount of knowledge a person, institute or society may need to make informed decisions. Often, oppressive countries control the media and the outcome of certain events that affect the well-being of their citizens.
Free and independent media should be able to release information freely to benefit everyone.
7. High Levels of Human Capital
A society that consists of skilled, experienced and knowledgeable individuals will continue to grow and improve in terms of economic production. Such a consistent trend ensures job opportunities and enhances the quality of life.
8. Low Levels of Corruption
High levels of corruption resulting in an inefficient distribution of resources cause a lack of funding for vital services. This is why corrupt countries have more dissatisfied citizens and experience civil unrest.
The Most Peaceful Countries of the World
Now that you know how the top peaceful nations were determined, we can have a closer look at why exactly it’s so pleasant to live there.
GPI Score: 1.107
Photo by S Migaj from Pexels
The safest and most peaceful country in the world right now is Iceland. This small nation is described as a children’s paradise thanks to a low crime rate.
Its size and proximity to wild nature are significant in why it’s so peaceful. Iceland is so safe that it has no military, although it has been part of the NATO Allies since 1949. Also, police do not even carry guns, as violent crimes are practically non-existent.
The country is known for having a pacifist tradition, as evidenced by its kind and open-hearted citizens. When visiting, you’ll feel at home thanks to the laid-back and non-judgemental vibe of the Icelanders.
The Land of Fire and Ice has a progressive outlook and mesmerising scenery that draws many expats looking for a unique adventure. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about safety.
Iceland is one of my favorite countries in the world, and I have visited three times! Find out more about this amazing country in my posts on best hotels in Iceland to see the Northern Lights, 5 day Iceland Itinerary, 3 day Iceland Itinerary, my Blue Lagoon review, what it’s like to go Inside the Volcano and a general Iceland travel blog.
2. New Zealand
GPI Score: 1.269
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Coming in a close second to Iceland is the gorgeous island country of New Zealand. The majority of this country (4.5 million people) are immigrants. However, the indigenous Maori culture, rooted in humility and altruism, is still alive despite the country’s colonial past.
Kiwis are often described as friendly, outgoing, and welcoming. The breathtaking scenery, tranquil landscapes and gorgeous nature will make you feel at ease. Apart from the calming visuals, the nation has specific laws, such as gun ownership limits, which reduce violent crime and murders.
With such low crime rates and corruption, it’s safe to say that New Zealand is a haven to live in. In 2018, New Zealand’s robbery rate measured at 66.7 cases per 100,000 population, which is low compared to Uruguay, which saw 866.8 cases of theft per 100,000 population in that same year.
GPI Score: 1.288
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The island of Ireland sits off the coast of Wales and England, with scenic coastlines and picturesque villages dotted along the shore. While the “Emerald Isle” is stunning, it’s also very safe and peaceful.
Ireland’s crime rate is pretty low, which makes it generally safe all over. The most reported crime tends to be vandalism against property of a petty nature. As with most countries, the majority of crime (murder threats and attempts, assaults, and harassment) takes place in its city centre, Dublin.
Regardless, Ireland is still a peaceful haven. The violent crime rates are relatively low all over the country thanks to strict gun laws, a small urban population, and a prevalent Gaelic culture.
GPI Score: 1.296
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Denmark is a Scandinavian country known for being the Happiest Nation Worldwide. It’s one of the few places you can walk around at night without fearing crime. That said, you can see why gun violence is almost unheard of there.
This happy nation has excellent political stability and offers some of the best working conditions. All these reasons and more have placed Denmark 8th in the top 10 Quality of Life Index. A low crime rate with access to high-quality healthcare also aids this.
The Kingdom of Denmark boasts excellent living standards and high income equality. The country is also characterised by its respect for human rights and freedom of the press.
GPI Score: 1.3
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Austria looks like a country from a fairytale book. The picturesque castles, palaces, and other architectural works will draw you in. But the quiet, calm streets and warm, inviting atmosphere will make you stay.
As one of the safest countries in the world, you can expect low crime, robbery, and assault rates. Petty crimes such as bag snatching and pickpocketing can occur when visiting touristy areas at night, but it’s generally safe all over.
This beautiful country has been rated the second most livable country in the world after Finland. You can definitely have an excellent quality of life in Austria. Their first-rate healthcare system, good air quality, intact nature, and range of training opportunities are all evidence of this.
GPI Score: 1.301
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Portugal is in the Iberian Peninsula, tucked between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean. The country has a growing economy that supports over 10 million citizens. While Portugal has ranked high on this list, it is dealing with some ongoing issues in the areas of corruption, racial discrimination, and xenophobia.
Still, this nation has low crime rates and a friendly and tolerant society. Portugal is widely considered one of the best European countries to live in due to its low cost of living, high quality of life, and fantastic year-round weather.
Being one of the safest countries to visit in Europe is another reason why expats and tourists are flocking here. Most of Portugal is perfectly safe at night. However, its cities can attract more scammers and thieves than the rural areas.
GPI Score: 1.316
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Slovenia is known for its captivating natural scenery. It’s home to snow-capped mountains that offer endless skiing opportunities and Lake Bled, a magnificent glacial lake fed by hot springs. With so much natural beauty, it’s understandable why Slovenia radiates tranquillity.
It outranks other Balkan countries thanks to a low crime rate, reasonable cost of living, and a high-functioning education system. This nation comes in at 34th in the list of wealthiest countries globally if calculated per inhabitant. With all this in mind, you’re bound to live a high-quality life.
And even if you’re simply visiting, you’re in for a good time. Slovenians are known for being friendly and hospitable and don’t hesitate to invite you into their culture. While the country has a low rate of serious crime, petty cases can happen, so keep your belongings close.
You might enjoy reading my article on the safest cities in the world.
8. Czech Republic
GPI Score: 1.318
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The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Europe which also goes by Czechia. It has an advanced high-income economy and a relatively small population of 10.51 million. The country has a rich history in the shape of medieval castles, picturesque towns, and natural beauty in the breathtaking national parks.
Apart from its visual delights, Czechia attracts many people because it offers a high quality of life, safe conditions, and low living costs. Prague’s capital city is a hub of a rich and diverse culture with an excellent expat community to make anyone feel at home.
Crime rates in the Czech Republic are so low that even pickpocketing generally remains unheard of. The World Bank collection of development indicators ranked Czechia in the 83.02 percentile in 2021 for political stability and absence of violence and terrorism.
GPI Score: 1.326
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Singapore is one of the few Asian countries to rank this high due to its impressive global financial centre, despite being such a densely populated place. The country boasts excellent economic and political stability with a high-ranking education system.
These factors result in the ideal conditions for a happy and peaceful society to thrive, with Singapore being one of the safest places on the planet. While there, violent crime and petty theft will be the least of your worries.
The country can keep its crime rates low due to strict laws and punishments served to those who break them. Then the sophisticated surveillance system keeps the Singapore Police Force on top of things.
Top Tip: Here’s how to spend one day in Singapore.
GPI Score: 1.336
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This country is a dream come true for travellers and expats. Japan is famous for sushi boat restaurants, anime, neon-lit streets, and natural beauty that intrigues many. The feeling of safety and freedom to be yourself makes it one of the best countries to visit.
The country ranks high on the Human Freedom Index, making it 10th on this list. Japan has a highly developed social market economy and an excellent education system by global standards. All of these factors make it a great place to live in.
Japan has a safe and clean environment that sees very low crime rates. The majority of crimes to take place in Japan are theft offenses followed by assaults and bodily injuries. Still, the harmonious approach and high self-control practised by Japanese culture keep violence and crime at a consistent low.
You might enjoy reading my articles on:
–The Most Dangerous Cities in Canada
-The Most Dangerous Cities in the United States
–The Most Dangerous Cities in the World
–The Most Dangerous Countries in the World
–The Most Dangerous Places in the World
–The Most Dangerous Airports in the World
–The Most Dangerous Roads in the World
GPI Score: 1.357
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No surprise here, Switzerland is one of the best places to live in thanks to its advanced and highly developed free market economy. With baking and finance being key industries, it’s easy to see how Switzerland is the third most prosperous landlocked country in the world after Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
But it’s not only a sound economy that keeps a country’s citizens happy. Switzerland has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, being home to renowned pharmaceutical and healthcare groups, such as Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche.
The country has Europe’s most prestigious higher education system. Combining these statistics with low crime rates and overall law-abiding people, it makes sense why Switzerland is one of the most peaceful places.
GPI Score: 1.389
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Canadians are consistently known as some of the most polite, respectful, and courteous people. In fact, Canada ranks 5th place of the friendliest nations in the world. Besides the welcoming politeness, Canada is one of the safest places to live.
The country experiences a meager crime rate with a trusting relationship between its police force and citizens. Canada also ranks as the 8th safest country for solo female travelers. You’re generally safe at night, but remain cautious as homicides and violent crimes (mainly gang-related) have increased in recent years.
Canada continues to rank high regarding the quality of life. Political stability, environmental protection, individual freedom and easy access to health care and education have made it one of the best places to live.
GPI Score: 1.411
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Hungary is yet another landlocked country in Europe that shines regarding peaceful countries. This nation is a parliamentary republic that obtained a percentile rank of 75.94% in 2021. This was for political stability and absence of violence/terrorism by the World Bank collection of development indicators.
Hungary’s universities offer affordable education, ensuring consistent growth from generation to generation. Hungary boasts a growing economy that fares well above the world average, with unemployment rates as low as 4.12 % in 2021.
Violent crimes such as murder and homicides are almost unheard of, with corruption being the biggest crime in this nation.
GPI Score: 1.439
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Finland overlooks the Baltic Sea, surrounded by vast, untamed wilderness and lit up by the magical Aurora Borealis. It’s the happiest country on earth and offers a tranquil and secluded escape.
It has a mixed economy combining a free market with a Nordic welfare state model allowing comfortable living conditions for its citizens. Corruption is not a big issue in Finland, and freedom of speech, religion, and expression are respected.
Data from 2021 shows that Finland gathered an overall crime rate of 86.98 per 1,000 population. It may seem high, especially when comparing this data to other Nordic countries, but it’s still very low by global standards.
GPI Score: 1.44
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Croatia is a country in the Balkans with its coastline facing the Adriatic Sea. It joined the European Union on 1 July 2013. Croatia is a great place to live, ranking 31st out of 117 countries in the 2022 Digital Quality of Life Index.
It ranks higher on the Global Peace Index thanks to a growing economy (it has a 13,1% GDP growth rate), a relatively low crime rate, and a universal healthcare system. While these factors keep civil unrest at bay, Croatia’s socialist and democratic republic plays a significant role too.
The Constitution of Croatia protects freedom of the press and expression and bans censorship.
GPI Score: 1.462
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Known for its nightlife scene, Oktoberfest, art, and beer halls, perhaps it’s all the entertainment that makes Germany so peaceful. The high quality of life, excellent education system, and freedom of speech are more likely the cause, though.
This vibrant country is rated Free in 2022 by Freedom House’s annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide. Germany is a representative democracy with constitutional rights to prevent authoritarian rule.
Political stability aside, Germany’s crime rate for 2021 reached 6,070 crimes per 100,000 people. These are not the best numbers in Europe, but it has shown a consistent fall in crime rates for six years.
GPI Score: 1.465
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Ah, Norway, the stunning jewel of the North Pole encompassing glistening glaciers, coastal fjords, and majestic mountains. It’s the kind of place where people feel taken care of. It’s very safe and economically stable.
Being a high-income nation allows Norwegians to live comfortably, suppressing any need for criminal activities to survive. Inhabitants have access to free health care and education, with unskilled workers also earning a comfortable living. The UN estimates that only 10 % of Norwegians live below the relative poverty line.
Norway’s crime rates have increased in recent years, but still are very low compared to other countries. The country sees fewer than 30 murders per year. Strict gun laws and extremely icy conditions prevent crime and violence from flourishing.
GPI Score: 1.471
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Malaysia is a gorgeous Southeast Asian country known for its balmy beaches and lush rainforests. Its appearance alone makes you feel relaxed and easygoing. Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, from Indian to Chinese and native Malaysian ethnic groups.
With so many traditions and practices around, it’s easy to feel accepted regardless of ethnicity or religion. The country practises parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, which has experienced political instability for over three years.
However, Malaysia’s strong and fast-growing economy aids in keeping civil unrest under control. You can enjoy a good quality of life with low living costs.
GPI Score: 1.481
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Tucked away on the Himalayn’s eastern edge is the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan. A captivating place filled with dramatic landscapes, intriguing fortresses and epic hiking adventures. But it is also a safe and peaceful country to live in.
One could pin the prominent Buddhist culture of Bhutan as to why it’s so peaceful. After all, good behaviour is one of the requirements to achieve enlightenment or nirvana. Bhutan has a very low crime rate, making it one of the safest places to live.
Violent crime is virtually unheard of, especially towards foreigners, but be aware of the occasional petty crime such as pickpocketing.
GPI Score: 1.499
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Slovakia — officially the Slovak Republic — is located in the heart of Europe, which makes it ideal for touring. Speaking of touring, criminals do often target foreigners travelling through places like Old Towns. However, Slovakia is generally a safe country to visit and live in.
The country had a murder rate of 1.37 per 100,000 population in 2018, which is still very low compared to other European countries. While violent crime is almost non-existent, organised crime such as human trafficking might be why Slovakia isn’t higher on this list.
Slovakia has moved peacefully to democracy from a Communist government thanks to the “Velvet Revolutions” of 1989.
GPI Score: 1.522
Photo by Jack Winbow from Pexels
Last on this list is the Netherlands, a stunning country enhanced by picturesque tulip fields, windmills, canals, and cycling routes. This small country is the perfect retreat for its calm atmosphere and welcoming people. It’s a place where you speak your mind and freely voice your opinion.
While the Netherlands is relatively safe (which is why it ranks 21st), it’s not 100% guaranteed everywhere. You may fall victim to petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bike theft. Also, don’t walk around at night as it’s generally unsafe, especially in some areas like the Red Light District.
The Netherlands is notorious for insanely high tax rates on almost everything. However, this allows people to work fewer hours, resulting in the best work-life balance in the world — that’ll surely keep many happy.
Wrapping Up the Most Peaceful Countries of the World
Now that you know which countries are the most peaceful, safest, and free, which one will you visit first? They’re genuinely superb and deserve to be highly rated by GPI because of their efforts toward harmony, tolerance, and acceptance.