According to the 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI), Iceland is the most peaceful nation in the world. The country has now held this position for 10 years running.
This is the 12th edition of the index, which ranks 163 nations in total. Following Iceland in the top five are, in order, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark.
Covering 99.7% of the world’s population, the index measures the state of peace using 23 indicators across three broad domains: societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.
In addition, this year’s report analyses the attitudes, institutions and structures that make societies peaceful and keep them that way, to better predict changes in the level of peace within countries and regions.
There are several reasons for Iceland’s consistent position at the top of the list. For one, Iceland has no standing army and very few armed police offers.
For another, although about a third of the population are gun owners—usually shotguns or rifles intended for hunting; there are almost no handguns in Iceland—gun deaths are few and far between. The last murder by gun happened in 2007, meaning there have been no gun murders in Iceland since the GPI’s first report.
Thirdly, the society itself is progressive and peace-loving, and the country’s isolated position at the top of the Atlantic, in a peaceful part of the world with no unstable nations nearby, means Iceland is more or less free from worry of invasion or aggression.