No country across the world is completely safe or crime-free. However, when compared to other countries, some appear safer while others are listed as crime-prone. Since 2009, the world has become a more dangerous place, at least according to the most recent Global Peace Index. With a worsening atmosphere of insecurity developing worldwide today, now more than ever before people are looking for safer places to live in and travel to. We feel that by showcasing the top 25 safest countries in the world, we can then look for common threads these share to find what could potentially make our world a safer place as a whole. Among our biggest points of interest are the correlations between safety and countries' respective intrinsic wealth per capita, educational access, criminal justice systems, and social welfare.
Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, and Canada make up the top five safest countries in the world. Also on the list is the Czech Republic, Singapore, Japan, and Ireland.
Out of the 25 countries topping the list of the globe’s safest, the majority are European nations. Several of the others in the top 25 are located in Asia or Oceania. Canada alone represents the Americas. With no civil wars or state-sponsored political violence in recent decades, Europe stands out the safest place to live in and visit.
Europe’s nations also proffer unto their respective populaces high levels of freedom to express their political opinion without fear, further increasing feelings of safety and security there. According to the Global Study on Homicide, Europe, Oceania, and Asia have the lowest regional murder rates, each at around 3 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 12.5 in Africa and 16.3 in the Americas. Such a disparate gap between these regions is huge and corresponds very well to the rankings discussed below.
Are Wealthier Countries Safer Countries?
While wealth may not yield happiness, it does indeed appear to breed a more secure social environment. Analyses across a spectrum of different statistics show that living in a ‘rich’ country, or a country with a well-developed economy, generally correlates directly with a positive sense of security therein. Only five of the safest countries failed to find a spot on the list of the 30 countries with the highest per capita Gross Domestic Product or GDP. In many places, it has been seen that when people are unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise facing financial hardships, they will often resort to violent crime, such as armed robbery, to better their situation. Some places in the world even have the problem of "career criminals" worsened by the fact that those released from prison cannot find good jobs. This leads to a self-perpetuating cycle as criminals are forced to return to crime to keep their heads above water, with little fear of being put into prison where they may even have a greater assurance of being provided with food, clothing, medical care, and housing. This is one reason why many have called for reforms in the penal systems, especially of developed countries, to place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation of the formerly incarcerated individuals.
Scandinavia: The Safest Region In The World
Having all three of its most prominent constituent nations (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) among the 25 safest countries in the world, Scandinavia has to be considered the safest region. The fact that Iceland and Finland are also on the list, this means that out of the 25 safest countries in the world, 5 are located in the Nordic countries. Considering the intentional homicide rate averages from across these five countries, the regional rate is 0.8 annual incidences per 100,000 inhabitants. Compared to the already mentioned low rates across the continent, Scandinavia’s homicide rates stand at around merely a quarter of those seen across Europe. Scandinavia also appears to have some of the happiest people on the planet.
The United States
In the 2019 Global Peace Ranking, the United States is listed in 128th place. This represents a drop of four places from the previous year. The USA ranks lower than countries like Niger, Nicaragua, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Brazil, and El Salvador. The United States has fallen in rankings in every single report that the Global Peace Ranking has put out since 2016. Some of the reasons for this drop include a decrease in life satisfaction and a growing wealth gap.
The Pride of Small Asian Countries
The second-best represented region in the top 25 safest countries in the world is Asia. Aside from Japan, the Asian countries nearing the top of the list are considerably small in size, both in terms of population and physical area. Other Asian countries in the top 25 are Singapore, Bhutan, and Malaysia.
Commonalities Among the World’s Safest Countries
As we can see, certain regions of our globe are considered far safer and more secure than others. Among the most significant factors driving such high levels of safety include the educational levels of these populations, their levels of relative social welfare and wealth, and their effective criminal justice systems. Furthermore, the governments in these places do not carry out a significant degree of state-sponsored violence and, as such, set a good example. They lay the foundations for maintaining healthy relationships with their citizens. Even in the U.S., which could be considered fairly dangerous for a Western First World economy nation, many of the same correlations as have been presented herein are also seen in the safest American cities and the safest states in the United States.