***Author’s Note: I wrote this article back in 2016, with statistics current as of that year. Given recent events, I’m updating this article, “What are the Safest Countries in the World,” to include the most current statistics from 2017.
What are the Safest Countries in the World?
What do Bolivia, Peru, Croatia, & Rwanda all have in common?
Statistically speaking: they are ALL safer than the United States.
According to the 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI), all of these countries are safer than the United States. In fact, out of 163 countries ~ it turns out that 113 countries are safer than the U.S.
Because the U.S. is ranked #114 out of 163 countries, in terms of safety, in 2017. We fell 10 places between 2016 & 2017, moving from #103 in 2016. To give some perspective, countries that surround us in the index, that have similar levels of safety, are: Rwanda at #113, & El Salvador at #115.
Are you shaking your head, wondering how this can be true? Or, is it not surprising to you, given current events?
How is Safety Determined?
First, how did they come up with these rankings, in determining what are the safest countries in the world? The GPI assesses 23 measures to get a sense of each country’s overall level of safety. The study’s three main themes are: 1) the level of safety & security in society; 2) the extent of domestic or international conflict; and 3) that society’s level of militarization.
Here are some of the measures: number of internal & external conflicts; deaths from conflicts; relations with neighboring countries; level of criminality within society; homicides; level of violent crime; terrorism; political instability; level of police presence; military expenditure; import/export of major weapons; nuclear capability; & ease of access to weapons.
Quite a comprehensive list.
Note: The primary blind spot I see here (which is also noted by critics) ~ is a measure of violence specifically against women and children, namely in the form of assault & rape. I’m unclear whether this measure is included within the “violent crime” category. However, in terms of analyzing safety for women in particular, I feel that a measure of sexual assault numbers should be its own measure ~ to make this list as comprehensive as possible, & address fully the concerns of both sexes.
What are the Safest Countries in the World?
Here’s what the world looks like in 2017, giving a color-coded map of the world in terms of safety:
Countries in dark teal (blue) indicate that they are the safest countries in the world. Included in this category are: Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, & Denmark. These are the top five safest countries in the world in 2017.
Then we move to countries in light teal. Countries in this category (i.e. most of Europe), have a high level of peace, & are considered safe countries to travel & live in. These countries include: Ireland (#10), Australia (#12), Chile (#24), Costa Rica (#34), & Uruguay (#35).
Next up are countries in yellow, indicating that their peace level is medium. This is the largest category, & statistically, these countries are less safe than countries in blue. Countries here include: Ecuador (#66), Nicaragua (#74), Cuba (#88), Nepal (#93), USA (#114), & Guatemala (#117).
Then we have countries in light red, indicating a low level of peace. Going by statistics, you’d want to exercise greater caution when traveling to these countries. Countries included here are: India (#137), Egypt (#139), Mexico (#142), Turkey (#146), & Colombia (tied at #146).
Finally, there are countries in red. These countries have a very low level of peace. Starting with the least safe country, here are the world’s most dangerous countries for 2017, ranked in order: Syria (#163), Afghanistan (#162), Iraq (#161), South Sudan (#160), Yemen (#159), Somalia (#158), Libya (#157), Sudan (#156), & Central African Republic (#155), Ukraine (#154).
So…What Does All of this Mean?
Here’s what this information means to me, as someone who loves to travel.
Will I be traveling to any of the “red” countries anytime soon? Countries like Syria, Iraq, or North Korea? It’s a pretty safe bet that no, I won’t be traveling to any of them now, or perhaps ever. Which is unfortunate, because I imagine there is much beauty in all those countries, despite their instability.
The truth is, though I want to travel & see the world ~ I have no desire to intentionally place myself in danger. Adventure is one thing ~ but danger is entirely different, & is something I heartily wish to avoid.
That said, let me ask you a question: have you ever traveled to Mexico? I assume that most Americans have. But, statistically speaking, Mexico is ranked #142 out of 163 countries, in terms of safety ~ telling us that it’s a relatively unsafe country to visit. Yet many of us have traveled there, with no problem.
My point is: this map & these statistics are painting broad strokes; they do not tell the whole story of any country.
Travelers can use this map as a tool though ~ as a starting point for gaining more information. Should we take more travel precautions in certain countries? Absolutely. And this map & these statistics are useful starting points for making those distinctions.
GWTW Tip: If you want to visit a country ranked lower in terms of safety, & you’re concerned about traveling there: talk to people who’ve actually been there. Don’t rely solely on CNN, Fox News, or even these safety rankings. Talk to people who’ve actually lived or spent a lot of time there, & preferably recently, as political climates can change quickly. They can alert you to common schemes that may occur, or places to avoid. Read current blogs from other travelers, to get the most accurate, real-time portrait you can of that country. Read safety advisories from the State Department. And from there, your own instincts will guide you, as you make your final decision.
Best Anti-Theft Bags for Women
Even if I’m traveling in a “safe” country, I always travel with a cross-body, anti-theft purse (meaning, a thief can’t cut the strap & run off with it). I feel more invincible & relaxed with this type of purse.
So, what do I know for sure about safety and travel? Oprah asks herself this question each month, & I think it’s a fantastic question to ponder.
What I Know For Sure..
- I know for sure that bad things can happen in “safe” countries, & great things can happen in “unsafe” countries.
- I know for sure that nowhere is 100% safe. Life is not 100% safe.
- I know for sure, based on my accumulated experiences, that most people in the world are kind. Given the choice, they will help you ~ not harm you. I truly believe this.
But above all else, here’s what I know for absolute sure: trust your gut. Trust your instincts. Pay attention when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Trust your instincts implicitly ~ & follow their instructions immediately. This is true in any country. Don’t wait. If you sense danger, don’t try to be “polite.” Leave. Run. Shout for help. Your instincts are your best guide ~ so when they speak up: pay attention.
What Are the Safest Countries in the World?
I hope this post on “What Are the Safest Countries in the World” is relevant, & has helped give voice to or illuminate some of the concerns you may have regarding safety & travel. I never want to be a “scare-monger,” because my personal travels have been overwhelmingly positive. But looking pragmatically at facts helps us to prepare, & get a handle over our fears.
“And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say try routine: it is lethal.”
― Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra
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