Going beyond murder and theft, our algorithm accounts for natural disaster threats. 

Author: Marc Getzoff
Project Coordinator: Edith Updike

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A NATION TO BE SAFE? 

What makes a nation “safe”? Typically, rankings look at rates of homicide or violent crime overall. But there are other threats to a person's well-being. What about safety from disease? Or, given the extreme weather events of recent years, from risk of natural disaster?

Japan, relatively peaceful but routinely devastated by earthquakes and storms, is more likely to deploy its military for disaster relief than combat. Here, Japanese troops are briefed at Kadena Air Base prior to distributing supplies to victims of the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011.

The Global Finance ranking of World's Safest Countries incorporates three measures of security and safety. One component is each nation's score in the Global Peace Index, created by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which measures social safety, violent conflict, and militarization. We also mix in each country's score for Safety and Security as measured by the World Economic Forum in its annual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. This measures the likelihood of violence, terrorism, and the country’s anti-crime procedures. Lastly, we incorporated each nation's risk for natural disasters, also from the WEF.

Rather than just measuring how likely you are to get murdered and robbed, this index also measures how likely it is you will get caught in a tornado or tsunami. In essence, it measures the general sense of physical safety for people living in or visiting the country.

This approach highlights some of the lurking dangers in famously “safe” countries. Japan, for example, where crime and bellicosity are low but tectonic plates and ocean storms wield great power, ranks 111th, just ahead of Yemen, which has the lowest score for peace but also a low risk of natural disaster. Likewise Nigeria, among the bottom 20, scores high for violence, but relatively low for natural disaster risk.

_3-New-Zealand-Sink_holes_on-roads_Christchurch-2017_300x150
New Zealand’s exposure to natural disasters—such as the earthquake that liquified these roads in Christ Church—pushes it out of the top 20. Photo by Martin Luff

Among the least-safe countries are a few that, like Japan, are largely safe from human violence but often pummeled by Mother Nature. Those include Vietnam (118th), Mauritius (124th) and Costa Rica (126th). In some cases, natural disaster risk pushes countries that are otherwise quite lovely out of the top 20, such as Denmark (22nd), New Zealand (23rd) and Australia (27th).  

At the top of the list, the safest countries also include several Middle East nations whose Peace rankings are relatively low—Qatar (34th), United Arab Emirates (57th), Oman (66th), Saudi Arabia (110th)—but whose Natural Disaster rankings are compensatingly high: 1, 5, 15, and 2, respectively.

Saudi Arabian security forces on parade. Saudi Arabia scores low for peacefulness, but is second-safest when it comes to natural disasters.

And some countries squeaked into the top 20 with balanced risk portfolios. Poland, at #20, ranks 24th, 34th, and 25th, for respectively Peace, Safety, and Natural Disaster Risk. Sweden (#6), Norway (#7), Germany (#14) and Spain (#17) also show relatively balanced risk. 

Many of the world’s “major players” in the global arena do not make either the best or the worst rankings. Curious? The UK comes in at 34th. The US, with a poor Peace score, is not far behind at 41st, and Israel is next at 42nd.  China and Russia, also with low Peace scores, rank 69th and 70th, respectively.  India comes in at 99th.

 

Table One: The Safest Countries in the World

Rank

Country

Global Finance Safety Index

1 Qatar 6.90
2 Iceland 7.36
3 Finland 8.37
4 Switzerland 8.79
5 Singapore 8.94
6 Sweden 8.94
7 Norway 9.09
8 United Arab Emirates 9.23
9 Austria 9.48
10 Canada 9.74
11 Estonia 9.78
12 Saudi Arabia 9.83
13 Portugal 9.83
14 Germany 9.86
15 Belgium 9.95
16 Slovenia 10.03
17 Spain 10.29
18 Oman 10.29
19 Czech Republic 10.38
20 Poland 10.45

 

Table Two: The Most Dangerous Countries in the World

Rank

Country

Global Finance Safety Index

112 Pakistan 20.21
113 Cameroon 20.33
114 Gambia 20.64
115 Burundi 20.73
116 Dominican Republic 20.95
117 Guyana 21.03
118 Vietnam 21.03
119 Haiti 21.06
120 Nigeria 21.08
121 Chad 21.15
122 Honduras 21.51
123 Jamaica 22.16
124 Mauritius 22.74
125 Nicaragua 23.43
126 Costa Rica 24.82
127 Cambodia 25.94
128 El Salvador 26.90
129 Bangladesh 28.83
130 Guatemala 30.85
131 Philippines 37.88

*Based on data from the World Economic Forum and The Global Institute For Peace 


WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A NATION TO BE SAFE? 

Global Finance magazine's new safety index factors in risks of natural disaster with crime, terrorism and war to present a more rounded analysis of the World's Safest Countries. More details on the algorithm in our story on the rankings, here

 

Rank

Country

Global Finance Safety Index

1 Qatar 6.90
2 Iceland 7.36
3 Finland 8.37
4 Switzerland 8.79
5 Singapore 8.94
6 Sweden 8.94
7 Norway 9.09
8 United Arab Emirates 9.23
9 Austria 9.48
10 Canada 9.74
11 Estonia 9.78
12 Saudi Arabia 9.83
13 Portugal 9.83
14 Germany 9.86
15 Belgium 9.95
16 Slovenia 10.03
17 Spain 10.29
18 Oman 10.29
19 Czech Republic 10.38
20 Poland 10.45
21 Denmark 10.50
22 Cyprus 10.67
23 New Zealand 10.71
24 Lithuania 10.83
25 France 10.84
26 Latvia 10.88
27 Australia 10.91
28 Slovakia 11.05
29 Bahrain 11.16
30 Kuwait 11.20
31 Croatia 11.24
32 Ireland 11.29
33 Mongolia 11.36
34 United Kingdom 11.76
35 Uruguay 12.03
36 Bulgaria 12.27
37 Kazakhstan 12.28
38 Italy 12.29
39 Argentina 12.44
40 Hungary 12.60
41 United States 12.75
42 Israel 12.76
43 South Korea 12.86
44 Paraguay 12.93
45 Jordan 13.04
46 Moldova 13.27
47 Botswana 13.27
48 Brazil 13.76
49 Laos 13.78
50 Romania 13.80
51 Malaysia 13.90
52 Bolivia 14.01
53 Egypt 14.04
54 Namibia 14.10
55 Macedonia 14.30
56 Bhutan 14.38
57 Georgia 14.42
58 Tunisia 14.44
59 Azerbaijan 14.61
60 Nepal 14.65
61 Iran 14.66
62 Armenia 14.71
63 Morocco 14.79
64 Gabon 14.89
65 Netherlands 15.16
66 Greece 15.30
67 Serbia 15.33
68 Zambia 15.42
69 China 15.50
70 Russia 15.79
71 Panama 15.90
72 South Africa 15.91
73 Sri Lanka 16.01
74 Tajikistan 16.01
75 Angola 16.07
76 Rwanda 16.16
77 Uganda 16.20
78 Malawi 16.20
79 Lesotho 16.30
80 Peru 16.31
81 Turkey 16.39
82 Ethiopia 16.43
83 Tanzania 16.60
84 Lebanon 16.70
85 Algeria 16.89
86 Mexico 16.98
87 Swaziland 17.02
88 Ghana 17.05
89 Thailand 17.06
90 Mauritania 17.48
91 Trinidad and Tobago 17.51
92 Guinea 17.55
93 Kyrgyzstan 17.57
94 Kenya 17.75
95 Venezuela 17.87
96 Albania 17.89
97 India 17.95
98 Mozambique 18.12
99 Sierra Leone 18.64
100 Indonesia 18.68
101 Côte d’Ivoire 18.76
102 Burkina Faso 18.77
103 Senegal 18.93
104 Chile 18.94
105 Colombia 19.16
106 Mali 19.22
107 Myanmar 19.37
108 Zimbabwe 19.39
109  Japan 19.73
110 Yemen 19.91
111 Madagascar 20.02
112 Pakistan 20.21
113 Cameroon 20.33
114 Gambia 20.64
115 Burundi 20.73
116 Dominican Republic 20.95
117 Guyana 21.03
118 Vietnam 21.03
119 Haiti 21.06
120 Nigeria 21.08
121 Chad 21.15
122 Honduras 21.51
123 Jamaica 22.16
124 Mauritius 22.74
125 Nicaragua 23.43
126 Costa Rica 24.82
127 Cambodia 25.94
128 El Salvador 26.90
129 Bangladesh 28.83
130 Guatemala 30.85
131 Philippines 37.88