By a nice coincidence following our last post on travel safety, two new surveys are out that try to identify the safest countries in the world, with implications for travelers as well as residents.
One, called the Global Peace Index 2018, comes from the Institute for Economics and Peace. It looks at 23 relevant statistics for 163 countries — including political terrorism, murder rates, and deaths from internal conflicts — and ranked them for overall safety.
The second, from the Gallup polling organization, takes a different tack: Gallup went straight to nearly 150,000 residents of 142 countries and asked them how safe they felt, based on factors such as their own experiences with crime and their attitudes toward local policing.
The results, as you might imagine, were quite different, though one country emerged as apparently the safest haven of all: the little European nation of Iceland, resting in the remote North Atlantic just under the Arctic Circle.
Iceland finished first in the Global Peace Index — as it has for the past 11 years. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland boasts an annual murder rate of only 1.8 per 100,000 population. Since Iceland has just 334,000 residents, that works out to be about six murders per year.
Meanwhile, in the Gallup survey, Iceland tied for second with Norway and Finland, two other Scandinavian countries where residents feel safe.
On the other hand, Iceland does have active volcanoes, so you may wish to take that into consideration before booking your flight to Reykjavik. There are no guarantees in life.
Singapore Slings Top Spot in Gallup
The Southeast Asian island nation of Singapore, best known recently for its safe hosting of a summit between two of the most volatile leaders on earth, America’s Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, apparently has the confidence of its citizens as well.
Singapore snagged 97 out of 100 possible points in Gallup’s scoring system, four points ahead of the three Scandinavian nations.
The Gallup survey turned up some surprises.
The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan finished right behind Iceland, Norway, and Finland, while Southeast Asia’s Indonesia and North Africa’s Egypt — both scenes of civil unrest in recent years — scored spots in the top ten, counting ties. (Egypt tied with six other countries for that ranking, all European except for China).
But again, the Gallup survey measured how residents perceived their own safety, as opposed to the statistics employed by the Global Peace Index. And authoritarian governments may play a role in how people answered.
Canada Does Well, Not So the U.S.
In the Gallup survey, Canadians rated their safety right behind Uzbekistan and Hong Kong (tied with Switzerland for seventh), while Canada ranked sixth in the Global Peace Index.
In other notable results, Singapore fell to eighth place in the Global Peace Index, followed closely by Japan — where I’ve never felt safer –– in ninth place.
New Zealand ranked second in the Global Peace Index while not making the top 10 in Gallup. Austria and Denmark landed top 10 spots in each survey.
The U.S finished out of the top countries in both.