Imagine you could choose the most peaceful country in the world to live in. What a luxury! The first prize goes to Iceland, followed by Denmark and New Zealand. The Global Peace Index has issued a report which lists all 162 countries in the world according to how peaceful they are.

They used a wide range of respected sources such as The World Bank and some of the UN agencies before they drew up their list. Peace, according to their definition based on 22 indicators, is the absence of war, violence, low military spending, levels of policing, organized crime, and the application of democratic government.

Here are the 20 most peaceful countries in the world:

1. Iceland

Iceland

Apart from dramatic scenery, Iceland has a 100% literacy rate in the 300,000 population  Living among an educated population which is tolerant towards minorities is a great bonus. The best thing of all is that murders (1.8 per 100,000 population a year) are practically non existent. Compare that with the US where you have a rate of 5.8 per 100,000.

2. Denmark

Denmark

The Danes are said to be the happiest people in the world!  Figures for worker motivation are very high and there is a welfare system in place which is the envy of most of the world. Taxation is high but the money is well spent on making the Danish lifestyle really relaxed and well organized.

3. New Zealand

New ZealandOne of the most unpolluted countries in the world where spectacular scenery abounds. 90% of  immigrants state that they would certainly recommend the land of the Kiwis to their families and friends. New Zealanders get generous leave benefits so they have plenty of time to enjoy the landscape and sports facilities.

4. Austria

AustriaAustrian teenagers get to vote when they are only sixteen years old but they can only drink alcoholic beverages when they are eighteen. Austria boasts a wonderfully clean environment where everything is spotless, great transport system and very low crime rates. It is also cheaper than many people believe. You can buy a bottle of drinkable wine for $4.

5. Switzerland

SwitzThe secret to Switzerland’s happy and healthy population is that the authorities have invested heavily in their people in providing them with excellent education, health services and employment benefits. They may be famous for their banking, cuckoo clocks and skiing resorts but they have wisely invested in their greatest asset.

6. Japan

JapanYou need never worry about finding a clean restroom in Japan. They are spotless!  Combine that with great food, impeccably polite people and a transport system the envy of the world. Perhaps Japanese people work too hard but they have built a peaceful and technologically advanced nation in a relatively short time.

7. Finland

FinlandIf you do not mind the long, dark cold winters, Finland has plenty to offer.  There is practically no corruption and very little class distinction. It scores highly on gender equality as well.  It has practically the best education system in the world. Children are given plenty of recesses too in the fresh (cold!) air and there is a very low rate of ADHD.

8. Canada

Canada

Did you know that the average household income in Canada is $28,000 annually? This is one of the highest in the world and certainly above OECD averages. In addition, there are excellent work opportunities where meritocracy is widely recognized. A peaceful country with a sound economy and beautiful landscapes make this a great place to live.

9. Sweden

SwedenAnother Scandinavian country in the top ten!  Sweden is fabulous for lots of snow and long winters so if you are into that, it is a great place to be. High standards of living plus generous parenting leave for mums and dads (15 months) plus a great welfare system justify its high place in the rankings.

10. Belgium

Belgium If you love beer and chocolate and do not mind endless rainy days, then Belgium is another great location. There are wonderful old towns, castles and museums to visit. As regards transport, Paris and London are really near so you get the best of several worlds. You can be in Paris in 70 minutes taking the high speed train.

11. Norway

Norway

Norway is a really safe country and has an incredibly low prison population. It also comes out on top as regards health and happiness. Freedom to roam in a stellar landscape is enshrined in the Norwegian law known as ‘allemannsrett’ which means you can camp or trek anywhere you like. Add in fabulous lakes and fiords which make it one of the most beautiful and peaceful countries in the world.

12. Ireland

IrelandI was born and grew up in Ireland so please turn a blind eye to the bias in this entry!  Yes, the people are really friendly and they have a wicked sense of humour which is great fun. Having a conversation with an Irish person can turn into an event! The scenery at times is breathtaking and it has some of the best golf courses in the world. The only problem is the weather but you can’t have everything.

13. Slovenia

SloveniaSlovenia scores highly as a great place to bring up kids and ranks higher than the UK, according to a UNICEF report. In addition to some wonderful trekking countryside, it has marvellous food and seems to have inherited the best from Italy and other neighbouring countries. You can feel very safe here as there are only 1,000 people in prison out of a total population of 2 million.

14. Czech Republic

CzechThe Czech Republic has a great musical tradition. Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek were all Czech citizens, just to name a few. It is also surprising to note that the last census revealed that 34% of the population consider themselves atheists. Marionette theater plus the traditional hearty food of soups and meat add to this country’s charm. The Czechs are very proud of their history, art, music and beer!

15. Germany

GermanyAnother central European country where a fondness for the arts, history and music is not considered elitist. It is just a normal part of cultural life and tradition. High standards of living plus excellent organization in everyday life make Germany a great choice. Add in some great beer, trekkers’ paradise (with even trails for nudists), Christmas markets and beautiful fairy tale towns and you have a wonderful place to live.

16. Australia

AustraliaA great place to be young, healthy and in the fresh air because of such a pleasant climate. This may explain why life expectancy here is 82. The economy has benefited from mining and is resilient in spite of recession. Friendly people, amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery make Australia one of the most attractive countries on the planet.

17. Singapore

SingaporeSingapore is probably the most orderly city state in the world. Astonishing verdant city landscapes which are not just pretty and ornamental. Singapore is leading the way on green initiatives as regards energy, water conservation and the environment. Then you have great food, safe urban areas and the people are friendly and welcoming to foreigners.

18. Portugal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA golfer’s paradise!  Boasting some of the most spectacular courses in the world and fabulous coastal scenery, Portugal is really very beautiful and has a great climate to go with it.  The crime rate is low and the pace of life is relaxed. Eating out is satisfying and inexpensive.

19. Qatar

QatarOne of the richest countries in the world where petrol may cost less than water. There are people waiting on you as you fill up with petrol, eat out and have your house cleaned. It is a great place to be spoiled. As Qatar prepares for the 2022 World Cup, (UN estimates 500 immigrants arrive daily!) there may be problems with disruption of services.

20. Bhutan

BhutanWho invented ‘happiness’ as an indicator that you can live well? Probably the Bhutan government who coined the phrase GNH (gross national happiness) which was to highlight that material possessions such as a car full of petrol or cheap supermarkets cannot make people happy. Much better to concentrate on the health, well being and education of the people. What better place to do this than the tiny Bhutan Buddhist kingdom tucked away in the Himalayas between India and China. The country was a monarchy up till recently and faces challenges in increasing urbanization and establishing a truly democratic government.

 

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Featured photo credit: War and Peace/ Prasad Kholkute via flickr.com

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