The Safest Countries for Your Next Event, According to the 2016 Global Peace Index

This week, the Institute for Economics and Peace published the 10th edition of the Global Peace Index, ranking 163 countries according to their level of peacefulness. The Index is measured according to
23 indicators within 8 key domains:

  • Well-functioning government
  • Sound business environment
  • Free flow of information
  • High levels of human capital
  • Acceptance of the rights of others
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • Low levels of corruption
  • Good relations with neighbours

Delegate safety is among the top concerns when planning meetings and events. The perceived safety and security of a destination,or a region, is one of the main factors for attracting tourism and foreign investment.

Which are the safest countries and which regions experience a downfall according to their rankings? Below we offer you a summary of the report as well as a map illustrating the state of the world according to the GPI.

In the 12 months since the last Global Peace Index, increased conflict, terrorism and the refugee crisis suggests a less peaceful world. While the global economic impact of violence dropped by 2% when compared to last year’s report, it cost a staggering $13.6 trillion damage in 2015, equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment. However, despite the increasingly unequal gap between peaceful and less peaceful nations, there are positive trends where the data tells a different story.

Regional Ranking & Highlights

While the majority of terrorist activity is highly concentrated in five countries – Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – the breadth of terrorism is spreading, with only 23% of countries in the Index not experiencing a terrorist incident.

Europe was once again ranked the most peaceful region in the world. The largest improvement since last year occurred in Central America and the Caribbean, while South America also made progress in its levels of peacefulness. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) had the largest decline, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific respectively.


The most peaceful region in the world, saw its average score deteriorate in this year’s report in the wake of terrorism incidents in Paris and Brussels, with deaths from terrorism in Europe having more than doubled over the last five years.

Europe accounts for six of the top seven most peaceful places in the rankings with Iceland, Denmark and Austria remaining the highest-ranking countries. Portugal built on last year’s gains to rise nine places to fifth globally. However, the average score in Europe deteriorated, reflecting increases in the impact of terrorism as well as the escalation of violence and instability in Turkey and the country’s deteriorating relations with its neighbours.

North America

North America’s score remains in line with the GPI of 2015. A small deterioration in Canada, due to an increase in weapons imports and exports, was offset by a comparable improvement in the US.


The level of peace has remained largely unchanged since 2015, however, a number of countries including Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Thailand improved their scores. Heightened tensions in the South China Sea impacted external relations between the three main nations involved; China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Central America and the Caribbean

Despite continuing security issues in Central America and the Caribbean, the region’s score improved sufficiently for it to move above South America in the rankings, and into fourth place overall. Improvements were recorded particularly in the dropping levels of political instability and political terror. The best performer was Costa Rica, characterised by its low levels of militarisation.

South America

South America dropped in rank in light of the substantial improvements in Central America and the Caribbean but still recorded an improvement in its overall score since 2015. This was due to lower levels of international conflict and militarisation, underpinned by largely peaceful relations between neighbouring countries. However, there was significant social unrest in Venezuela and Brazil. The increasing political instability in Brazil just months before the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro also played its part.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa’s average deterioration masks sharp variations in country performance: Chad, Mauritania and Niger all improved their relations with neighbouring countries, while the threat posed by Islamist terrorist groups continues to weigh on many countries in the Sahel and West African region.

Russia and Eurasia

Russia and Eurasia remains the third least peaceful region. The biggest improvements were in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan; the largest deteriorations were in Ukraine, due to the persistent conflict with pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbass region.

South Asia

This region remains the second least peaceful region. Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and India deteriorated; while Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan improved modestly. Internal security concerns were heightened in Bangladesh and Nepal owing to anti-government protests. Afghanistan has seen a resurgence of violence in the last year, with a number of clashes between government and Taliban forces, and the possible re-emergence of Al-Qaeda after the withdrawal of coalition forces in 2014.


MENA, which was already ranked the lowest in the 2015 GPI, had the biggest deterioration in peace this year, as the civil wars in Syria and Yemen deepened and led to increased external intervention. Yemen, whose long-standing political crisis exploded into outright civil war in early 2015, witnessed a large slump, driven by the rising casualty rate, a large increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced people, and higher levels of terrorist attacks by both al-Qaeda and ISIL.

See interactive map here

See complete rankings here


About IEP: The Institute for Economics and Peace is an international and independent think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

Institute of Economics & Peace

Featured image by Brian Merrill licensed under CC0 1.0