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Global Peace Index 2021 reveals world’s most peaceful nations

More countries have seen an increase in peace in the last year than a deterioration, but the latest world peace index offers mixed benefits

It’s been a tumultuous 12 months, but despite the challenges of the past year, more countries saw an improvement in peace than a deterioration.

That’s according to the latest edition of the Global peace index (GPI), which each year grants a harmony ranking to 163 nations. Compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the index is considered the world’s leading criterion for measuring world peace.

Iceland topped the table for the thirteenth year in a row, followed by New Zealand and Denmark. The United Kingdom ranked 33rd, while the United States ranked 122nd, between Azerbaijan and South Africa.

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Overall, 87 countries saw an increase in peace levels over the past year, compared to 73 that saw a drop. However, while most nations saw improvements, the index found that the world is, on average, 0.07% less peaceful than a year ago. Although small, it is the ninth deterioration recorded by the index in the last thirteen years.

The GPI measures the state of peace in three domains: the level of social security and protection; the scope of the ongoing national and international conflict; and the degree of militarization.

The decline in peace was attributed to a worldwide increase in military spending and higher levels of civil unrest, partly as a result of the pandemic.

Iceland has once again been classified as the most peaceful nation on Earth. Credit: Tom Podmore

According to the GPI, Europe remains the most peaceful region. The continent is home to eight of the 10 most peaceful nations, and no European country ranks outside of the top half of the index.

The least peaceful region is the Middle East and North Africa, but this is also where the greatest improvements were seen. The uploads were recoded in all three domains.

The greatest regional deterioration was recorded in North America. “This was fueled by a significant increase in social unrest in the United States in 2020, culminating in the events of January 6, 2021, in which pro-Trump protesters entered the Capitol building,” the report says.

World peace

The highest increase in peace levels was recorded in North Africa and the Middle East. Image: Parker Hilton

Despite its findings, the GPI noted that people generally think the world is getting safer. According to the index, about 75 percent of the world’s citizens reported feeling as safe or more secure than five years ago. Rwanda has the highest proportion of people who feel more secure today than five years ago.

The GPI also found that deaths from terrorism fell for the sixth year in a row in 2020, with the biggest drops in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.

“The impact of terrorism and the number of deaths from internal conflicts continued to fall, while the intensity of the internal conflict also improved,” the report adds.

Here are the 20 most peaceful nations, according to the GPI

  1. Iceland
  2. New Zealand
  3. Denmark
  4. Portugal
  5. Slovenia
  6. Austria
  7. Swiss
  8. Ireland
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Canada
  11. Singapore
  12. Japan
  13. Finland
  14. Norway
  15. Sweden
  16. Australia
  17. Croatia
  18. Germany
  19. Hungary
  20. Belgium

Main image: Copenhagen, Denmark. Credit: Febiyan

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