Wondering where to travel this summer? If a modest budget is what you have, then safety concerns might be the other issue on the checklist. Some places are prone to terror outfits, while some have a reputation of racial aggression. To help quantify the topic of safety, the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) has released its annual Global Peace Index (GPI), a data-driven measurement of global peacefulness. This year’s results show that the average level of peace deteriorated by 0.07 percent from the year before—which is unsurprising, given how COVID-19 visibly shook up the lives of nearly everyone in the world.
Despite being larger than its neighbour to the south, Canada ranks much higher than the United States. The country did report a staggering increase in hate crimes (particularly against Asians) and its economy took a dip during the pandemic, but its score actually improved overall compared to last year, thanks to lower custody rates and a drop in weapons exports per capita.
9. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic scored big in terms of low crime rates, low military spending, and low terrorism impact. Even pickpocketing isn’t a huge problem in major cities like Prague, making this a verifiably safe place to visit.
Ireland is a new addition to the top ten this year, jumping up three spots despite some violent anti-lockdown demonstrations. The country’s relatively low crime rates, good economy, and happy and friendly residents more than made up for any pandemic blips.
Though it was missing from the top ten in 2020, Switzerland rose to the top this year due to low crime rates and very high income per capita. It did perform poorly in terms of weapons exports—in fact, it ranks among the ten highest weapons exporters per capita in the last five years—but it clearly is safe enough in other areas to land in such a high ranking.
Austria had the second largest deterioration in peacefulness in Europe (after Greece) from 2020 to 2021, although it still remains one of safest countries in the world. The fall in peacefulness was the result of a November 2020 terrorist attack in Vienna, though the government responded quickly with new legislation that monitors terror offenders much more closely.
Slovenia broke into the top ten for the first time in 2020 and managed to stay there this year (it even jumped up a few spots), thanks to extremely low crime rates. Whether you’re just generally into beautiful places or want to explore some of Europe’s best castles and lakes, Slovenia has something for you—including the guarantee that you’ll sleep well at night!
Portugal has made significant strides in peacefulness in recent years. In 2014, the country was transitioning out of financial crisis and was ranked 18th on the GPI—today, it is a beacon of economic resurgence and low crime rates. Add to that a Mediterranean climate and affordable healthcare.
In Denmark, the main source of conflict is whether it’s better to summer on the northern coast or soak up some hygge during the winter. On the data front, the nation stands out for its well-functioning government, low levels of corruption, and equitable distribution of resources. Another fun fact? It’s one of 29 countries where women are noticeably more satisfied with their own standards of living than men.
2. New Zealand
New Zealand has basically zero domestic and international conflict (at least compared to other countries), and it has remained relatively unaffected by COVID-19 over the past few years. The Kiwi nation did record a very slight deterioration in their score this year, thanks to an increase in weapons imports and military spending.
Iceland is once again the most peaceful country in the region and world, a position it has held since the inception of the index in 2008. The Nordic nation has some of the lowest military spending and international conflict rates in the world (not having any shared borders surely helps), and its imprisonment rate of 33 per 100,000 people is the lowest in all of Europe.