The concept of peace is difficult to define – and even more difficult to measure. However, since 2006 the Global Peace Index has defined peace as the "absence of violence" and has sought to determine what cultural attributes and institutions are associated with states of peace. The most recent, 2012 ranking has Iceland as the most peaceful country, followed by Denmark and New Zealand. At the other end of the spectrum, Somalia is considered the least peaceful country, followed by Afghanistan and Sudan.
Global Peace Index 2012 (jump to index)
The 2012 GPI brought some good news, finding that the world has become more peaceful overall for the first time since 2009. All regions saw improvements in terms of levels of peacefulness expect the Middle East and North Africa.
Watch a presentation of the 2012 GPI results
Iceland keeps the top spot as the most peaceful country for the second year in a row. The top ten is dominated by countries in Europe, which occupy seven of the first ten places. Denmark is second after Iceland, Austria and Ireland are tied in sixth place and are followed by Slovenia (8,) Finland (9) and Switzerland (10.) The three non-European countries at the top of the survey are New Zealand (tied with Denmark in second place,) Canada (4) and Japan (5.) Countries in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia take up the bottom of the ranking instead. Somalia is last for the second successive year. Pakistan, Israel, Central African Republic, North Korea, Russia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Sudan come just before it.
Ravaged by civil war, Syria took the hardest hit, falling over 30 places to 147th position. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, climbed the most, nearly 30 positions, thanks to the end of its long-running civil war.