The 10 most peaceful countries on the planet

The 2016 Global Peace Index is bleak, but there are some bright spots.

Each year the non-profit think tank Institute for Economics and Peace crunches the numbers to arrive at a ranking that measures where the most and least peaceful places on the planet are. Known as the Global Peace Index (GPI), the listing takes into consideration 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators; for 2016 there were 163 independent states and territories included, accounting for 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.

It may come as little surprise, sadly, to hear that peace took a slight turn for the worse over the last year. And in fact, peace has been taking a slow dismal dip over the last decade, driven primarily by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability, according to the report. Since 2008, the world has become 2.44 percent less peaceful.

Part of the reason peace is in decline overall is that many of the countries that are suffering, 79 of them, continue in their deterioration. But (almost) balancing that out is the fact that 81 countries improved their peacefulness. The average decline, however, was larger than the average improvement within each country, accounting for the global drop in score. But at least there are upswings; it's not all despair.

To read the whole nitty-gritty you can download the 120-page report here It is pretty grim, but there is hope and positive thinking as well. (The section on Positive Peace (starting on page 54) is very inspiring.)

But in the meantime, we’ll just cut to the chase here with the countries that ranked as most peaceful.

1. Iceland
2. Denmark
3. Austria
4. New Zealand
5. Portugal
6. Czech Republic
7. Switzerland
8. Canada
9. Japan
10. Slovenia

The five countries at the sad other end of the list all suffer from ongoing conflicts; Syria is at the bottom as the least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

And you may be wondering, where does the United States stand? Not in the top 10. Or even in the top 100. The U.S. comes in at spot number 103. From the report:

The past year was a mildly encouraging one for the US. The country was instrumental in driving a multilateral deal to restrict Iran’s use of nuclear material to peaceful purposes and in the lifting of sanctions that followed. Further diplomatic progress was made with Cuba, another country historically considered an enemy by the US government. However, US involvement in the armed conflict against ISIL escalated, with thousands of airstrikes conducted in Islamic State-held territory. This situation is reflected in a deterioration in the score for number, duration and role in external conflicts. Relations between the US and Russia have also deteriorated further, with Russia’s support for the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad putting the former Cold War enemies on opposite sides of that conflict.

To see the full rankings and read more about the peace policy and the potential for making the world a more peaceful place, visit Institute for Economics and Peace. Also see the United Nations’ page detailing the International Day of Peace.

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