These are the most peaceful countries in the world according to the Global Peace Index 2018.
Denmark fell from the second position to the fifth in the 2017 GPI, and has maintained this position for the 2018 report. Although Denmark’s rank hasn’t changed, the overall levels of peace did improve slightly.
Denmark has seen a notable deterioration in the level of perceived criminality in society. A recent report from the Justice Ministry reveals that between 74-85% of the population are under the impression that there is more violent crime, robberies, break-ins and car thefts, compared with five years ago. Perception is not always reflective of reality. The intensive press coverage of gang-related shootings in Copenhagen, and the anti-immigration sentiment, have contributed to the perception of criminality in society. This deterioration was offset by several improvements in the Militarisation and Safety and Security domains, which allowed Denmark to improve overall. Denmark’s very high level of overall peace matches the perception of Scandinavian countries as some of the happiest in the world.
Portugal has moved down from the 3rd most peaceful country in the world, to the 4th. Nonetheless, the country’s improvements in recent years have been exceptionally notable. The country ranked 18th in the 2014 GPI.
Portugal’s development in recent years hinges on improvement in the political instability indicator of the report. Notably, the recovery from the 2010-2014 financial crisis has led to a more stable political and economic scene. In December 2017, Portugal’s unemployment rate fell to a 13-year low, to below eight percent. This is a steady fall from the 2013 peak amidst the financial crisis. Portugal’s steady score in the 2018 Global Peace Index is attributed to the 65% of indicators that did not change from the previous year at all. The Ongoing Conflict domain saw no deteriorations at all, although the Militarisation domain did see several minor deteriorations.
Austria has moved up into the rankings by taking Portugal’s previous spot as number 3.
Austria’s improvements and deteriorations were mainly negligible, and for the most part offset one another. The most significant improvement in Austria is the 0.5 of a score improvement in the Political Terror Scale indicator.
Sebastian Kurz became the Chancellor of Austria in 2017, despite his conservative People’s Party being defeated by the Freedom Party in polls since 2014. This has not affected the political instability indicator of the GPI – the indicator which Austria maintains a steady perfect score.
In 2017 New Zealand moved up two places in the GPI ranking, and has maintained its 2nd place position in the 2018 report.
New Zealand, unsurprisingly, also ranks in the top ten Positive Peace countries. As is Iceland, New Zealand is an example of the strength and resilience that investment in the Positive Peace pillars can give to a community in maintaining peace levels and being resilient to internal shocks. New Zealand has only experienced two minor deteriorations, in incarceration rate and terrorism impact. This wasn’t offset by any other improvements in the Safety and Security domain, which meant that domain saw an overall minor decrease. In the Militarisation and Ongoing Conflict domains, New Zealand has only seen improvements. New Zealand is notably the only non-European country in the top five most peaceful countries, therefore it is also the most peaceful country in the Asia and the Pacific region.
Iceland has maintained its position as the most peaceful country in the world since 2008. Consistently, Iceland has performed well in all indicators of the Global Peace Index.
Iceland has endured boisterous times. In 2016, the Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resigned after the revelation of his involvement in the Panama Papers. As the Prime Minister’s deputy leader stepped up into the position following the resignation, Iceland faced mass protest. Iceland maintains a very high level of Positive Peace, making the country resilient to disruption and internal shocks. This is not to say Iceland is unaffected, as the country has seen a deterioration in Sound Business Environment, Free Flow of Information, Well Functioning Government and Low Levels of Corruption in recent years. Yet, the country’s robust resilience, thanks to its investment in attitudes, institutions and structures that sustain a peaceful society, have allowed it to maintain its rank as the most peaceful country in the world despite small internal shocks.