Safety is arguably one of the most important determiners of quality of life. Feeling safe is a fundamental human need that allows one to focus energy on things like relationships and goals rather than self-preservation.
War, violent crime, and corruption are some of the factors that negatively affect the level of safety in a country, and no country is completely free of these risks. However, there are some countries that are significantly safer than others.
In this post, we’ll explore the 20 safest countries in the world, based on data from this Statista report on the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2022. According to this report, Iceland was the safest country in the world with an index value of 1.1.
The lower the index value, the higher the peacefulness. View Graph as Image
What is the Global Peace Index?
The Global Peace Index (GPI) is a report completed by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) that measures the level of peacefulness in 163 states and territories around the world and ranks them accordingly. The first GPI list was published in 2007, and it has since been published annually.
The index is calculated based on a number of indicators relating to both domestic and international conflicts or potential for conflict. A lower score on the index indicates a higher level of peacefulness, and a higher score represents lower levels of peace.
The international indicators used in the GPI are primarily related to a country’s military activity and involvement in international conflicts. In states where there is a high level of financial support to UN peacekeeping missions, a lower GPI score is generally granted.
On the other hand, when a state has a high level of military expenditure in relation to its gross domestic product (GDP), it is generally considered less peaceful. This is one of the reasons a country like the United States, with high military spending as a percentage of GDP, has never been included in the 20 safest countries in the world.
The domestic factors that influence GPI scores include things like violence, crime, and incarceration rates within a country. Countries with high levels of gun violence are likely to score more poorly than others based on these criteria. Other specific domestic criteria include the intensity of organized internal conflict, the likelihood of violent demonstrations, and the number of armed personnel per 100,000 people.
World’s Countries Ranked from Safe to Safest:
GPI score: 1.5
Slovakia is among the safest countries in Europe and the world, which is just one of the many reasons to visit. It’s become safer over the past decade, with low levels of violent crime and an effective police force. The political situation in Slovakia is also relatively stable, which contributes to better levels of peacefulness.
Although Slovakia is the 20th safest country in the world according to its low GPI score, it’s worth noting that the country isn’t without its safety concerns. For example, petty theft such as pickpocketing still occurs in tourist areas and in public transportation.
GPI score: 1.48
The location of Bhutan may not be common knowledge, but it’s one of the most peaceful countries in the world. It’s got a score of 1.48 on the GPI, meaning it provides high levels of safety for its residents. Violent crime is very rare in the country, and there is very little petty crime, though it does exist.
There is a mild presence of drug-related crime in the country, and the greatest security concerns are related to terrorist groups from neighboring countries. Physical safety concerns include narrow, winding roads, and altitude sickness.
GPI score: 1.47
Malaysia maintains positive relationships with many foreign countries thanks to its foreign policy, and this is one of the reasons it’s listed among the most visited and safest countries in the world. Violent crime isn’t common in Malaysia, though petty crime does occur in crowded tourist areas.
Occasional incidents of terrorism have occurred in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah, which is something to be aware of. The US Department of State’s travel advisory for Malaysia recommends visitors exercise normal precautions such as remaining aware of their surroundings. It also recommends exercising increased caution in eastern Sabah.
GPI score: 1.47
Norway is one of two Scandinavian countries on the list of safest countries, and it’s earned its spot for various reasons. One of these is the low crime rate in the country, which is achieved in part because the Norwegian government places a strong emphasis on public safety, investing heavily in law enforcement. Most Norwegians also enjoy a high standard of living, which reduces crime.
A peaceful, non-interventionist foreign policy is another reason Norway ranks so highly on the GPI. It is a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the Nordic Council. Relationships with neighboring countries are strong and positive, reducing the potential for international conflicts.
GPI score: 1.46
Germany owes its strong ranking on the GPI to several factors: a well-established legal system, a commitment to social justice and human rights, strict gun control laws, and an active role in promoting global peace and security.
Membership in international organizations like the European Union, NATO, and the United Nations strengthens Germany’s international ties and security. The country regularly engages in international development and humanitarian efforts.
Domestically, Germany enjoys a strong economy and social welfare system, both of which contribute to its secure, stable society. Law enforcement agencies are well-funded, and there is an emphasis on crime prevention measures.
GPI score: 1.44
Finland regularly ranks as the happiest country in the world according to the World Happiness Report, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the safest. Since the inception of the GPI in 2007, Finland has consistently been rated as one of the most peaceful countries in the world.
Finland has a strong record of promoting peace and security domestically and internationally, and it joined NATO in 2023. Low levels of militarization, high levels of social trust, and low crime and violence within the country all contribute to its strong GPI score.
GPI score: 1.44
Croatia’s successful integration into the European Union has been one of the most impactful factors contributing to peace and safety in the country by enhancing security and stability. According to the UK government’s travel advice, crime levels are low in Croatia, and violent crime is rare, two reasons Croatia is one the safest countries in the world.
There are some small criminal organizations within Croatia that engage in illegal activities like drug trafficking, but the level of organized crime is lower than in other countries in the region. The Croatian government is involved in several efforts to combat organized crime within the country.
GPI score: 1.41
Budapest, which is the capital city of Hungary, is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world for solo women travelers by Time Out magazine. And it’s not just the capital city that’s safe, as Hungary is number thirteen on this list of safest countries.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Hungary, and crime levels are low overall. There is a risk of petty crime such as pickpocketing or money scams in crowded, tourist areas, and it’s important to exercise basic precautions. Law enforcement in Hungary is effective, and low levels of income inequality contribute to low levels of crime.
GPI score: 1.39
Canada is the second-largest country in the world, and it’s also one of the safest. In 2022, it earned a 1.39 GPI score, which makes it the twelfth most peaceful country in the world. Although it’s still considered very safe, it scored worse than the previous year when it was in the number ten spot.
The reason for Canada’s peaceful ranking is that it has low levels of violent crime and it has strong diplomatic ties with other nations. Even so, there are certain areas in Canada where there are higher levels of crime than in others. These are usually urban areas where petty crimes like theft, break-ins, and vandalism occur.
GPI score: 1.36
There are a variety of factors that contribute to Switzerland’s status as one of the safest countries in the world. It’s got one of the lengthiest histories of neutrality of any nation, crime levels are low, the police force is effective, and it’s one of the richest countries in the world.
Crime prevention strategies such as community policing programs and initiatives aimed at reducing gang violence have had positive impacts on Switzerland’s crime levels. There are still incidents of petty crime in tourist areas, so it’s important for visitors to remain aware of their surroundings, but daily life in Switzerland is very safe.
GPI score: 1.34
With a GPI score of 1.34, Japan makes the top ten safest countries in the world. The two primary reasons the country has such a high ranking are its low crime levels and positive international relationships.
Crime levels in Japan are low, and this is thanks to several factors: a strong police force, community watch programs, strict gun control laws, and a culture that prioritizes social harmony.
In recent history, Japan has been able to foster strong, positive relationships with foreign countries. The country’s “soft power” approach to diplomacy is partly responsible, and it’s made Japan a safer place for its residents.
GPI score: 1.33
Singapore is both one of the smallest countries in the world and one of the safest. It’s got a reputation for its strict laws and harsh punishments for offenders, and this is certainly one of the reasons there are low levels of crime in the country. The well-trained police force and highly effective surveillance system also help to deter crime.
Strong diplomatic ties are also responsible for the safety of Singapore. It is a member of international organizations such as the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It attempts to promote peace and security in the region and has been fairly successful at preventing terrorist attacks.
GPI score: 1.32
As is the case with most of the countries on this list, Slovenia earns its spot as one of the safest countries in the world through having low rates of crime and peaceful international relationships. Slovenia also has a relatively low population density and a relatively high standard of living, both of which contribute to low levels of crime in the country.
Internationally, Slovenia collaborates with other nations to promote security and prevent terrorism. It is a member of NATO and the European Union, and there have been no terrorist attacks in the country.
7. Czech Republic
GPI score: 1.32
There are many reasons to visit the Czech Republic, and one of these is that the country is so safe. A well-functioning law enforcement system and modern security measures keep levels of crime in check, although it’s still important for visitors to exercise basic safety precautions when in crowded areas.
The Czech Republic’s membership in the European Union and NATO has helped to maintain a high level of safety in the country. It’s also a member of the Schengen Area, and cooperation with neighboring countries means it has support in combating terrorism and less chance of international conflict.
GPI score: 1.3
Denmark has a strong social welfare system and a culture that focuses on social equality. These characteristics of the country are part of what makes it one of the safest in the world. Another factor that is responsible for Denmark’s low crime rate is its well-trained police force.
Denmark has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past, which is one of the reasons the US Department of State has recommended visitors exercise increased caution in its travel advisory. However, Denmark has taken significant steps to prevent terrorism, such as sharing intelligence with other countries and increasing surveillance.
GPI score: 1.3
Located at the far western edge of Europe, Portugal is tied with Denmark and Austria as one of the safest countries in the world. The country has a professional police force that works in tandem with a modern surveillance system to reduce crime levels and promote public safety. Portugal is also part of international organizations like the European Union and NATO, which helps to promote diplomatic security.
Petty crime does occur in Portugal, especially in crowded tourist areas, but this is something that is true in nearly every country. One of the biggest contributors to Portugal’s status as a very safe country is its political stability and freedom, which makes internal conflicts relatively unlikely.
GPI score: 1.3
Known for world-famous classical musicians and composers, ornate palaces, and the Alps, Austria is also one of the safest places in the world. Austria is exceptionally safe because of its very low levels of serious crime. Theft and other petty crimes happen in urban areas, but violent crimes like murder are rare.
Austria’s location in the center of Europe makes its participation in international organizations like the European Union important for maintaining security. The country is involved in peacekeeping efforts in the region.
Austria also implements a country-wide civil defense system consisting of regularly tested alarms, which help to promote the safety of its residents.
GPI score: 1.29
According to the GPI, Ireland became even safer in 2022 than the year prior. It was ranked as the eighth-safest country in the world in 2021 and jumped to the number three position in 2022.
Ireland’s well-funded police force and strong judicial system could have a positive impact on reducing crime rates in the country, as could the high level of social cohesion. The majority of crimes committed in Ireland are non-violent and petty — more serious crimes are rare.
Involvement in a number of international initiatives aimed at promoting peace and protecting human rights also contributes to positive international relationships and a secure environment.
2. New Zealand
GPI score: 1.27
2022 marked the second year in a row that New Zealand came in at number two on the GPI; it regularly ranks as one of the top ten safest countries in the world. One of the reasons New Zealand is so safe is that crime levels in the country are low, particularly for violent crimes.
The island country in Oceania enjoys a strong economy and well-funded social welfare programs, both of which help to prevent major crimes and promote happiness among residents. The use of Neighborhood Policing Teams is one method of community policing that helps to make New Zealand a safe country to live in.
GPI score: 1.1
The safest country in the world is Iceland, which earned a GPI score of 1.1 in 2022 and consistently ranks among the top five safest countries in the world. It owes its top safety rankings to a low crime rate and secure diplomatic relationships.
Iceland’s very low levels of crime can be attributed to the country’s effective police force, strong judicial system, well-funded social welfare programs, and relatively small population. There is also a strong culture of social inclusion and equality in Iceland, which reduces the potential for domestic conflicts.
Another reason Iceland is considered so safe is that there is very little risk of international conflict. It is a member of international organizations such as the United Nations that aim to promote peace and security around the world.
More About the Safest Countries in the World
How is safety measured in determining the safest countries?
Safety is measured by looking at statistics related to domestic and international conflicts experienced by the countries on this list. Things like crime levels and political stability are taken into account.
What factors contribute to a country being considered safe?
Low levels of crime, a stable political system, and strong international relations all contribute to a country being considered safe.
Are there any specific regions or areas within these countries that are safer than others?
Yes, there are generally regions within countries that are safer than others. A common trend for countries on this list is that there are higher levels of crime in areas with higher population densities like urban centers. Tourist areas are also likely to experience higher levels of petty crime like theft.
How do these safe countries compare in terms of quality of life, healthcare, and overall happiness?
Most of the countries on this list have relatively high quality of life, access to healthcare, and social services. Higher levels of overall happiness are more common in safer countries.