A new study by the non-profit Institute for Economics and Peace has found that if you’re looking for a calm, drama-free place to holiday or live, you’ll want to make a beeline for Iceland.
The recently-released Global Peace Index (GPI) 2015 – which ranks 162 nations around the globe based on factors such as the level of violent crime, involvement in conflicts and the degree of militarisation – saw Iceland take out top place, with Denmark and Austria following closely behind in second and third spots.
In fact, six of the top 10 most peaceful countries were European, although New Zealand and Australia did squeeze in to the top 10, at number four and nine, respectively. While 81 countries have become more peaceful in the last year, 78 have unfortunately experienced a sharp decline in peace.
Terrorism and civil unrest have placed the Middle East and North Africa in last position, for the first time in the index’s history. Iraq dropped below South Sudan and Afghanistan to second-last place, while war-ravaged Syria remained at the bottom of the rankings.
The impact of the region’s terrorist activity has meant more refugees and fatalities than ever before. Ten years ago, an average of 2000 people were victims of terrorist attacks, but the figure spiked to a dramatic 20,000 casualties last year.
Libya’s level of peace deteriorated the most, falling to 149th place. Destabilisation by Russia following the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, saw the country rank poorly on organised conflict indicators. But Egypt, Benin, Guinea-Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire have all climbed higher up the list than last year.
Peace is more than just the absence of conflict. The attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies are also important in creating stable, harmonious societies. We can only hope that next year’s results see more countries harnessing these qualities.