A surprise entry rounding out the top ten, this former Yugoslav republic has transitioned well into the world following the fall of Communism and the Yugoslav Civil War. Wedged between Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungry, this tiny mountainous nation has experienced a history of dominance by foreign empires. Picturesque alpine villages and great skiing make this nation a hidden gem of European tourism, while boasting low levels of violent crime and being little risk from terrorist attacks. Go here for more.
The final Nordic nation on the list, Finland is considered one of the most stable countries in the world based on economic, political, social and military indicators. Much like neighboring Sweden the landscapes are pristine and forested, and Finland’s cities are modern and progressive. Here you can experience the nation’s rich folk culture in a land where day lasts all night in the summer months. Finland actually boasts a slightly higher homicide rate per 100,000 people than many other nations on this list; however a strong respect for civil liberties, the democratic process and human rights make Finland another safe bet for travelers. Go here for more.
Despite popular conceptions, the “Great White North” is actually an overwhelmingly urban nation with almost 80 percent of the population residing in cosmopolitan and diverse cities. As a nation of immigrants, the government pursues a policy of multiculturalism where citizens are encouraged to maintain their traditional values and ways of life. Canada scores well for its appreciation of human rights and tolerance. While Canada also scores well for low levels of violent crime, it loses points for a greater ease of access to weapons “of minor destruction.” Canada is also considered a more probable target for a terrorist attack based on the nation’s participation in the War in Afghanistan and strong ties with the United States and Great Britain. Go here for more.
Painfully polite Japan boasts ancient temples and futuristic neon cities. A destination that this author would recommend to any traveler, Japan is at once both hectic and serene. A place where modern western pop culture is adopted by local youth and made entirely unique. Japan scores well on the GPI for extremely low levels of violent crime and has very strict gun-laws in place. Robberies are almost non-existent when compared to figures from other westernized industrial nations, although statistics are criticized for being unreported by some watchdog groups. Go here for more.
Not unlike the Volvos produced in this peace-loving country, Sweden is indeed very safe. Pristine lakes and forest, and trendy, attractive cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg help Sweden score big with tourists. Sweden also scores big across the board in a number of categories including respect for human rights, levels of violent crime, political participation, and civil liberties. As a major exporter of weapons Sweden lost major points on the Global Peace Index and thus falls to 6th place overall, but is still about as safe as it gets. Go here for more.
The hills are alive with the sound of safety. The land of music and Mozart scores high for its low levels of violent crime and peaceful relations with neighbors. Austria loses points in the GPI as it is considered slightly less tolerant and respectful of human rights in comparison to New Zealand and the Scandinavian nations at the top of the list. Visit elegant Vienna or chocolate box perfect Hallstatt and enjoy the beauty of this touristic treasure. While Austria is considered one of the safest places to visit overall; the same can’t be said for the death-defying ski runs at Kitzbühel in the Tyrolean Alps. Go here for more.
Home of Björk, geothermal power, glaciers and hot spring, Iceland is another Nordic nation that is considered very safe to visit. This tiny volcanic nation in the North Atlantic Ocean was at one time the world’s most developed country according to the UN, and one of the world’s wealthiest per capita. Renowned for its first-rate social welfare system, low levels of violent crime and high respect for human rights, Iceland was hit especially hard by the great recession of 2009 and fell in the rankings due to a higher likelihood of political instability in comparison to the other leaders on the GPI. Go here for more.
Breathtaking mountain fjords and colorfully painted fishing villages make Norway a beautiful place to visit. Another ancestral home of the Vikings, today’s Kingdom of Norway is a wealthy, prosperous and safe nation. Norway embodies the same high respect for human rights and personal freedoms, religious, and cultural tolerance and low crime rates as the other Scandinavian nations on this list. While a combatant in the US-led War in Afghanistan, Norway is considered a low risk for a terrorist attack. Go here for more.
Although a historical homeland of warlike Vikings who ravaged Europe 1,000 years ago, today Denmark is amongst the safest and most peaceful nations on Earth. Denmark is considered a greater threat for terrorist attack than New Zealand, thanks in part to the infamous Mohammad cartoons published in a Danish newspaper, and the country’s role in the Iraq War. But despite occasional riots in Copenhagen’s slums, the nation remains overwhelmingly safe. A great respect for human rights, high levels of gender equality and low levels of homicide and violent crime make Denmark a very safe and exciting destination. Go here for more.
1. New Zealand
The “Land of the Long White Cloud” boasts rolling green hills, impressive mountains and icy glaciers. New Zealand is home to modern, multicultural cities such as Auckland and Wellington, and its thriving aboriginal Maori community is active in all facets of society. Flying somewhat under the radar of many travelers, little New Zealand is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies The nation is considered the World’s safest thanks in part to Kiwi society’s high respect for human rights and lack of hostility toward foreigners, along with the low risk of political instability and internal conflict. Go here for more.
Dealing with Risk: Of course nobody can predict the future, and by definition travel involves some inherent risk. These include both statistically minute occurrences like your plane going down in the Andes Mountains, to more probable events like being pick-pocketed on a crowded bus. Travelling to the world’s safest nations does not guarantee an incident-free trip however. In travel as in life, there are no guarantees. A greater risk in this author’s view is letting fear and doubt prevent you from experiencing the world and living your dreams. So travel without fear or impunity, for in all countries—safe or dangerous, there are adventures to be had, friends to be made, and great life changing experiences to take advantage of.
Defining Safe: The Global Peace Index (GPI) moves beyond simple crime statistics alone, and looks at the actions of a government, the country’s relationships with the world at large, and the attitudes and demographics of its population. 144 Nations are scored yearly using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of peacefulness. The index includes the number of homicides per 100,000 people, potential for being the target of a terrorist attack, level of hostility to foreigners, educational attainment and unemployment rates and amongst many others indicators. While subjectively measuring the world’s “most peaceful” nations, the Global Peace Index takes into account many factors associated with personal well-being and safety. The GPI does not factor in natural disasters or other acts of God into the equation however, so this must also be considered as well when debating safety.
Originally published on TripAtlas.com