According to the most recent Global Peace Index conducted by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation, with war-ravaged Syria being the least peaceful.
The full ranking for all 162 countries assessed can be seen here, as well as below.
Countries are scored based on a range of safety and security indicators, such as the rate of crime and violence, the amount terrorist or military activity, the degree of militarization (e.g., military spending, number of armed forces personnel, etc.) and more; you can view the total list of factors, their references, and the index’s methodology here.
Europe led the world with six out of ten of the world’s most peaceful nations, including fellow Nordic country Denmark in second place, and Austria in third. They were followed by New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the Czech Republic.
Most of the worst performers were in Sub Saharan Africa and Central Asia; proceeding Syria at the very bottom were Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and North Korea.
Unsurprisingly, socioeconomic stability, wealth, effective governance and rule of law, and respect for civil liberties were strongly correlated with peacefulness; most of the least peaceful nations are failed or failing states.
For its part, the United States was in the bottom half of the list, between Peru and Saudi Arabia. This was due primarily to the relatively high rate of crime, particularly homicide, as well as trends such as militarizing law enforcement, high incidences of police brutality (by developed world standards), and a large and active military industrial complex.