Image: via SIS International Research
Image: via SIS International Research
The Institute of Economics & Peace has released the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI) report, and it certainly makes for interesting reading. The index ranks 162 countries – encompassing all but 0.4 percent of the planet’s population – from least to most peaceful, taking into account each country’s engagement in warfare, the well being of its inhabitants and its military activity. These 20 nations, then, are the most peaceful in the world today.
Image: Lies Thru a Lens
The GPI classifies the state of peace in the Netherlands as “very high.” This should perhaps come as little surprise considering the Netherlands is the only country whose constitution actually seeks to foster global legislation. Plus, in 1899 the country hosted The Hague Convention, the initial multilateral conference to consider the rules of war.
When compared with 2014’s figures, in 2015 Poland lessened its involvement in international conflicts, and this helped it become the 19th most peaceful country in the world. The nation is also the location of the only remaining Churches of Peace, both of which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Bhutan was one of only three nations in South Asia to improve its peacefulness ranking in 2015. The country’s government, incidentally, has established one of Bhutan’s long-term goals as making the nation “a vision for peace, prosperity and happiness,” which complements the peaceful teachings of its principal religion, Buddhism.
Norway has a long history of promoting peaceful causes worldwide, and its position on this list is not a shock. However, it’s interesting to note that the country’s militarization score was actually worse than in 2014 due to its exportation of military vehicles, armaments and defence systems.
The GPI stated that Germany has recently “trimmed down their armed forces and stocks of heavy weaponry,” which perhaps helped it rank so highly in the final poll. Other peaceful initiatives taken by Germany include the Berlin-based ZIF – the Center for International Peace Operations –, which has advised other countries on peacebuilding actions.
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Slovenia’s most impressive ranking on the GPI is in the metric “societal safety & security,” where it comes in at number seven in the world. Slovenia has also, since 1991, been home to the Peace Institute, an organization dedicated to developing and maintaining an international community centered on equality and human rights.
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Belgium’s foreign policy on peace and security includes taking an active role in conflict deterrence and diplomacy. Perhaps other countries should take note, particularly as Belgium has a strong record throughout all of the GPI metrics, meaning that the country “is relatively peaceful across the board.”
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Amazingly, in 2014 Sweden celebrated two centuries of peace. Indeed, the nation hasn’t taken part in a war since 1814, though politician Carl Bildt did tell The Local that this was “primarily by luck.” Regardless, this impressive record surpasses even famously neutral Switzerland’s peacetime credentials.
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Perhaps surprisingly, Ireland has the 2nd-best score in the world in terms of its militarization, according to the 2015 GPI. And as a nation it has contributed extensively to UN peacekeeping operations on an international scale, providing troops for at least 13 major missions since 1958.
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Portugal was the most improved country in Europe, in terms of the 2015 GPI. It was ranked at 16th in 2014, and its inspiring new position was earned because of increased political stability and a decrease in the apparent probability of violent protests. Portugal also ranked as the seventh most peaceful country in Europe.
Image: Jorge Láscar
10. Czech Republic
Despite experiencing a downturn in political stability, the Czech Republic is still a top ten nation for peacefulness. And it is committed to promoting peace at an international level too, participating as it does in key peacekeeping operations for the UN.
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Australia rose from 13th position in 2014 to become 2015’s ninth most peaceful country on the GPI, even though it has been the victim of several terrorist attacks in recent times. Its score in the “external conflicts fought” metric, though, showed significant improvement, and there are multiple organizations within the country working to promote peacefulness.
Japan is top of the rankings for societal safety and security and the second most peaceful nation in the Asia-Pacific. Interestingly, the country’s new constitution was written in 1947, following the devastating events of WWII, and includes a clause that prevents Japan from using war to resolve disagreements with foreign powers.
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Canada ranks an eye-opened 87 places higher than the U.S. on the 2015 GPI, and this is despite Canada’s 2015 score being slightly lower than the previous year. The country’s minor deterioration in score came about because of a fatal shooting in Canada in 2014 and the nation’s relative increase in military activities.
Finland is known for its role as a peacekeeper, and Peacekeeping Finland claims that the nation “is rated as the top country in the EU in developing peacebuilding capabilities.” Indeed, at this time Finland has lent troops to UN missions in areas such as Pakistan, the Middle East and India.
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Switzerland is famed for its international stance of armed neutrality, and, unsurprisingly, it ranks in joint-first position on the GPI’s “ongoing domestic and international conflict” chart. This is probably because the country has not engaged in an international war since 1815 and has not had a civil war since 1847.
Image: Paul Bica
4. New Zealand
New Zealand was named as the most peaceful country in the world in 2009, and it still retains a pretty respectable position in 2015. But perhaps that is to be expected in a nation where there are reportedly ten times as many sheep as there are people.
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The beautiful country of Austria has taken the number three spot on the GPI, no doubt in part because of its political stance of “active neutrality.” It does have an army, however, and it contributes extensively to international peacekeeping operations as well as aiding internal disasters.
Early in 2015 a pair of shootings that saw five people hurt and three people murdered rocked the country of Denmark. However, as it scored remarkably well on most of the GPI’s metrics, it still managed to rank as the second most peaceful country on the planet.
Image: Allen Watkin
Iceland is a small nation with no permanent armed forces and an impressive record of progressive political policies. For example, it was among the initial nations to legalize gay marriage, and a great portion of the country is sustained by geothermal energy.