The 10 safest countries in the world to holiday in. One of them is close to home

Ireland has jumped three places to eighth position in the global peace index report

The Sheep's Head penninsula in West Cork with a view of Whiddy Island in the background. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/The Irish Times

With the summer fast approaching, many are swapping their dressing gowns for swimwear and jetting off on their first holiday abroad since before the pandemic. It can be an overwhelming experience after so long cocooned at home, and choosing a safe destination may help put your mind at ease.

Luckily, as reported by Condé Nast, the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) has ranked countries by how safe they are in their annual global peace index report. In a victory for the local tourism industry, Ireland has jumped three places to become the eighth safest country in the world.

To assemble the list, the IEP ranked 163 nations using three domains of peacefulness: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation. Within those domains, the organisation looks at 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, including incarceration rates, homicide rates, deaths from internal conflict, perceptions of criminality and more. The scores are then averaged for an overall composite - the lower the score, the safer the space.

Piran on the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia. Photograph: iStock

According to the index, each country is given a score between one and five - one being the most peaceful, five the least. Here are the world’s 10 safest countries:


10. Canada Score: 1.33

A popular destination for Irish expats, Canada ranks much higher than its neighbour, the United States. The country did record a staggering increase in hate crime last year, particularly against Asian people, and its economy dipped during the pandemic. However, its score increased overall compared with the year before due to lower incarceration rates and a decrease in weapons per capita.

9. Czech Republic Score: 1.329

Low crime rates, low military spending and low terrorism impact led the Czech Republic to a good safety score. Even pickpocketing isn’t a huge problem in its cities, such as the popular capital Prague, making it an excellent holiday spot.

Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. Photograph: iStock

8. Ireland Score: 1.326

Ireland is a new addition to the top 10 this year, jumping three places to knock Singapore off the list. The IEP notes ‘violent anti-lockdown’ demonstrations as a mark against Ireland, similarly to Spain, Italy and Germany. However, relatively low crime rates and good economic performance has boosted its score.

7. Switzerland Score: 1.323

Switzerland was absent from the top-10 list in 2020 but has risen to the top this year due to low crime rates and very high income per capita. It performed poorly in terms of weapons exports – it ranks among the 10 highest weapons exporters per capita in the last five years – but it clearly is safe enough in other areas to reach such a high position.

6. Austria Score: 1.317

Austria had the second largest deterioration in peacefulness in Europe (after Greece) from 2020 to 2021, although it still remains one of safest countries in the world. Its fall in the ranking was the result of a November 2020 terrorist attack in Vienna, though the government responded quickly with new legislation that monitors terror offenders much more closely. Austria continues to earn high marks for a sound business environment and good relations with its neighbours.

5. Slovenia Score: 1.315

Slovenia made it on to the list for the first time in 2020 and managed to stay there this year, thanks to extremely low crime rates and a low risk of terrorism. Slovenia is home to some of the Europe’s most beautiful castles and lakes, making it a truly peaceful destination.

Bled lake, Slovenia. Photograph: iStock

4. Portugal Score: 1.267

A popular spot for Irish holidaymakers, Portugal has made significant strides in peacefulness in recent years. In 2014, the country was transitioning out of financial crisis and was ranked just 18th on the index. Today, it is a beacon of economic resurgence and low crime rates. Add to that a pleasant climate and it’s no wonder it is a hotspot.

Copenhagen, Denmark. Photograph: iStock

3. Denmark Score: 1.256

In Denmark, the main source of conflict is whether it’s better to summer on the northern coast or soak up some hygge during the winter. In terms of data, the nation stands out for its well-functioning government, low levels of corruption and equitable distribution of resources. Notably, it is one of 29 countries where women are noticeably more satisfied with their own standards of living than men.

2. New Zealand Score: 1.253

New Zealand has extremely low domestic and international conflict (compared with other countries), which is why the Christchurch shooting in 2019 was such an incredibly sad shock. Thankfully, it has remained relatively unaffected by Covid-19 over the past few years. The country did, however, record a slight deterioration in its score this year due to an increase in weapons imports and military spending.

Reykjavik, Iceland. Photograph: iStock

1. Iceland Score: 1.1

Iceland is once again the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since the inception of the index in 2008. The Nordic nation has some of the lowest military spending and international conflict rates in the world (not having any shared borders surely helps), and its incarceration rate of 33 per 100,000 people is the lowest in Europe. – Sources: Condé Nast/IEP Global Peace Index