What country is the world’s most peaceful? (Think small)

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Peace, love and Iceland.

That could become the country’s new mantra after the island country was named most peaceful nation on the planet for the second consecutive year, according to the 2012 Global Peace Index. New Zealand and Denmark tied for second place, Canada came in fourth and Japan fifth.

Of 158 nations, the United States was No. 88, and Somalia was dubbed “least peaceful” with Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan ranked 155 to 157, respectively.

The index also shows the Middle East and North Africa replacing sub-Saharan Africa as least peaceful region and (no surprise) Syria tumbling more than 30 spots since last year to 147.


What do these numbers really mean? It’s an annual attempt by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace to examine more than 20 criteria -- including access to weapons, jailed population and violent crime figures in each country -- to create a global peace map.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the findings.

“Israel is in place No. 150?” Amichai Warter of Jerusalem writes in the map’s comment section. “You want to tell me that countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Libiya or Yemen are more peacful than Israel? If this is the conclusion of your research your research is absolutely worthless! You should think of visiting the countries you talk about before your decision...”

And a comment from Jalka Konfliktkultur says:
“The question is, what does the word ‘peace’ really mean in this analysis? Is there any country or region without increasing their weapons and armies for possible next battles? As long as we call the intervals between wars ‘peace,’ we have not grown into peaceful humanities.”