Longing to vacation (or live) somewhere peaceful? Read this.

I stumbled upon a report called the 2020 Global Peace Index*, which rated the “positive peacefulness” of 163 of the world’s countries. The report focused on three thematic areas: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarization.

You might not find it surprising that Iceland is rated the most peaceful country in the world, as it has been since 2008, but let’s be honest: the biggest threats to peacefulness in Iceland are the occasional volcano followed by frostbite and possibly terminal boredom if you’re a city person, like me. Outdoorsy people rave about it.

New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark, in that order, round out the top five.

Auckland, New Zealand as seen from Devonport

Afghanistan is rated the least peaceful country in the world, replacing Syria, which is now the second least peaceful. The rest of the bottom five area South Sudan, Yeman and Iraq.

Where does the U.S.A. stand? No. 121. Worse than South Korea (48); Kosovo and Bolivia (85 & 86 respectively); Lesotho (98) China (104); and El Salvador and Guatemala (113 & 115).

How about our nearest neighbors? Canada was No. 6. Mexico was less peaceful than the U.S., at No. 137.
Peace Arch Park on the border of the U.S. and Canada near Blaine, Washington

Overall, the report says, the largest regional deterioration on the Safety and Security measure as a whole occurred in North America. That was largely the result of falls in peacefulness in the U.S., which had deteriorations on the violent crime, homicide rate, and political instability indicators. When considering all three measures, Central America and the Caribbean showed the largest deterioration, followed by South America, then North America.

The report also attempts to quantify the economic benefits of peace and how changes in the factors studied affect conditions in various countries, for better or worse.

I have a former colleague who just flew from San Francisco to Italy, where he and his partner would like to live more or less half-time. Italy is No. 31 internationally and No. 22 among European countries.

My ancestral homelands, Germany and Poland, ranked No. 16 and 29. Other places that appeal to me are Austria (4), Switzerland (10), and the Netherlands (21).

Boat and windmill north of Amsterdam

Whether I’ll actually get to live in any of those places (as opposed to short-term visits) remains to be seen for a number of reasons including the current pandemic, but this report provides some interesting information for anyone considering emigrating from their current cou
ntry of residence in search of a more peaceful existence.

* – Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Peace Index 2020: Measuring Peace in a Complex World, Sydney, June 2020. Available from: http://visionofhumanity.org/reports (accessed 19 September 2020).

Photos credit Carl Dombek

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