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What are the safest countries in the world?

The safest countries in the world are Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Singapore, Portugal, Slovenia, Japan and Switzerland, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI).

Are you planning your next exciting summer holiday or backpacking adventure? Perhaps you're considering moving overseas to start a new job, study, or retire. Whatever your goals, safety and security are concerns for travellers, families and individuals alike.

From ultra-low crime rates to political stability, this guide discusses the world's safest countries, what makes a country peaceful, where natural disasters are rare, and more.

Sitting by Mount Fuji in Japan


What is the Global Peace Index?

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) that ranks countries based on their current levels of peace, safety and stability.

The IEP is an independent charity headquartered in Australia dedicated to promoting factors that determine safety. By considering internal and external factors that contribute to a country's peacefulness, the GPI aims to provide an overall view of peace.

Twenty-three indicators are used in their calculations, including:

  • Number and duration of internal conflicts
  • Political instability
  • Nuclear and heavy weapons capability
  • Relations with neighbouring countries

It's a valuable tool for governments, universities and the general public to understand world peace trends and their influencing factors.

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Top 10 safest countries in the world

Iceland tops the Global Peace Index for 2023 (and has since the list's inception in 2009!), followed by Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Singapore, Portugal, Slovenia, Japan and Switzerland. Just outside the top ten sit Canada at 11, the Czech Republic at 12, and Finland at 13.


Rank Country Score Change
1 Iceland 1.124
2 Denmark 1.31 ↑ 1
3 Ireland 1.312 ↓ 1
4 New Zealand 1.313 ↑ 2
5 Austria 1.316 ↓ 1
6 Singapore 1.332 ↑ 4
7 Portugal 1.333 ↑ 1
8 Slovenia 1.334 ↓ 4
9 Japan 1.336
10 Switzerland 1.339 ↑ 1

What is the safest place on earth from natural disasters?

The safest place on earth from natural disasters is Qatar, according to the World Risk Index 2020. The Middle Eastern country is geographically far from seismically active zones, making it safe from earthquakes. It's also not on a hurricane or typhoon path or prone to volcanic eruptions or major flooding. Plus, the country's modern infrastructure can withstand the few hazards it does face, such as dust storms.


Thanks to a well-functioning democratic system, Iceland has a history of peaceful transitions of power.
Collage of Iceland images

Why is Iceland the safest country in the world?

Alongside being the continual winner of the Global Peace Index (GPI), the Nordic nation of Iceland recently topped Global Finance Magazine's Top 100 Safest Countries in the World. But why does this isolated island with a population of less than 400,000 keep winning?

Low crime rates:

Iceland has extremely low rates of violent crime compared to most countries in the world, including one of the lowest murder rates in Europe, with just two people killed in 2021. There is also a strong sense of togetherness, with most towns comprising of less than 10,000 people.

Political stability:

Thanks to a well-functioning democratic system, Iceland has a history of peaceful transitions of power. Plus, its remote location has served as ideal protection from many world conflicts.

Trust in institutions:

Icelanders have high confidence and satisfaction in public services, including education, healthcare and the justice system. Such faith in government-run institutions helps maintain law and order, creating a safe, organised and calm country for citizens and visitors.

Natural environment:

The isolated island country's unique geography and lack of major natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, contribute to its safety.

Gender equality:

As a world leader, Iceland is famous for promoting equal rights policies for women and attempting to close the gender pay gap.

What country has the lowest crime rate?

The country with the lowest crime rate is Japan. Firearms are strictly regulated, and most citizens cannot buy, sell, possess, or carry a gun. As a result, the island nation has averaged just two gun-related homicides per year since 2012, remarkable for a country with a population of over 122M.

Another reason Japan is one of the world's best countries to live in is that their ancient culture emphasised respect for others and obedience to societal norms, which has continued into the modern age. Focusing on social harmony creates an environment where citizens are less inclined to engage in criminality.


What is the safest country in Europe?

The safest country in Europe is Iceland, based on data collected by the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2023. European nations dominate results, with no less than fourteen countries in the top twenty!

Second on the list was Iceland's fellow Nordic country, Denmark. Danish citizens feel relatively safe thanks to low crime rates, stable political relations with their neighbours and a general trust in institutions such as the police and legal systems. Safe public spaces, a sense of community, and progressive policies like gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights all help to promote inclusivity.

Coming in at number three is Ireland. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Ireland has experienced relatively low levels of violent crime. High-scoring GPI 2023 markers for Ireland included: deaths from conflicts, nuclear and heavy weapons, internal conflict and neighbouring country relations.


Safest country in the world for women

The safest country in the world for women is Denmark, according to the 2023 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index. The index, published by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, ranks 177 countries based on recognised data sources for women's inclusion, justice and security.

Noteworthy indicators where Denmark scored exceptionally high:

  • Perception of community safety (women over 15 years old who feel safe walking alone at night near home) - 78%
  • Share of parliament (seats held in lower and upper houses of national parliament) - 43.6%
  • Political violence targeting women - 0 per 100,000 women
  • Financial inclusion (consumption, autonomy, ability to invest, etc.) - 100%
  • Employment (women aged 25 to 64 employed in formal and informal sectors) - 77%
  • Mean years of schooling (average years spent in education for women over 25) - 13.2 years
The safest country in the world for women is Denmark, according to the 2023 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index.
Two women hiking down a mountain


Smiling people running through a field

Safest states in America

The safest states in America vary depending on the methods used to calculate them. Common safety metrics include crime rates, reliable healthcare services, gun ownership and effective emergency response capabilities.

Based on data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2022, which considered factors such as violent crime, robbery and aggravated assault, the ten safest US states were as follows:

  1. Maine
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Connecticut
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Wyoming
  6. New Jersey
  7. Kentucky
  8. Vermont
  9. Virginia
  10. Idaho

The District of Columbia, New Mexico, Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana were the top five least safe states. In terms of gun ownership, results are mixed. The top 10 safest states with high gun ownership are Wyoming (66.2%) and Idaho (60.1%). The top 10 states with the lowest gun ownership are New Jersey (14.7%), Rhode Island (14.8%), and Connecticut (23.6%).