The Global Peace Index report by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) showcases the widening gap between the most peaceful countries and the least peaceful ones globally. The IEP is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank keen on shifting the focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and palpable measure of human progress. For the second time in a decade, there is a significant improvement in peacefulness. Countries like Iraq improved significantly in the ranking—for the second time in a row.
Iceland still maintains the number one when it comes to the most peaceful countries globally, with a score of 1.1. It attained this spot in 2008. Furthermore, New Zealand, Denmark, Denmark, and Slovenia occupied the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place. At the bottom of the list is Afghanistan for the third straight year. Completing the bottom five least most peaceful countries are Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq. African countries made significant improvements on this ranking, but none did make the top five in the list.
The 2021 Global Peace Index
This is the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) report by IEP. It ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. The GPI covers 99.7% of the world’s population using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources. Also, it measures the state of peace across three domains; the level of societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and degree of militarization.
It is essential to know that this year’s results reveal that the average level of global peace deterioration is 0.07%. This is an improvement against the 0.34% deterioration rate last year. About 87 countries improved, and 73 others recorded deteriorations.
Nevertheless, the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peacefulness is still unfolding. Even though some forms of violence decreased in the short term, rising economic unrest and growing unease of lockdown resulted in civil uncertainty in 2020. Hence, it is still too early to fully know the long-term effects of the pandemic on the most peaceful countries in the world.
The Top Ten Most Peaceful Countries According to Global Peace Index Rating
Africa remains the center of attraction when it comes to peace, mainly due to its glaring underdevelopment. Many African countries are still experiencing high political instability, wars, corruption, and economic stagnation. And these factors threaten their peace. Against all odds, here are the ten most peaceful countries in Africa in 2021. These countries rank high on the Global Peace index.
Mauritius still maintains its spot as the most peaceful country in Africa. The country comes in at 28th place on the global rank. Mauritius conducted a peaceful election and attained a high level of economic stability according to the Global Peace index. It is also essential to know that this African country has an overall score of 1.592 with a slight change score of +0.032. The country was 25th last year but slipped by three spots this year.
Ghana made a giant leap to the 2nd spot in Africa on the most peaceful countries in Africa this year. Ghana was the third most peaceful country in 2020, just behind Botswana. In the latest Global Peace Index ranking, Ghana currently ranks 38th globally, against the 40th spot last year. In December 2020, Ghana held general elections. Although there were tensions and allegations of rigging, it was resolved amicably in court rather than through violence. This was one of the elements that made Ghana stand out in the rankings. This African country has an overall score of 1.715 with a slight change of -0.047.
Botswana fell one place in the African rankings and currently holds the 3rd spot. Regardless of the slip, the country improved two places to seal the 41st spot globally against the 43rd spot it held in 2020. Botswana has a friendly environment, with little to no political instability, war, or any form of violence. Furthermore, Botswana currently has an overall score of 1.753, with a slight change of -0.019.
#4: Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa. This country also made a great leap in the current overall rankings. It moved up from 56th spot (in 2020) to the 46th position. Sierra Leone also displaced Zambia to take the number four spot in Africa. Currently, Sierra Leone has an overall score of 1.813 with a slight change of -0.059. If you are planning a tour of the country, this should excite you.
#5: The Gambia
Despite Gambia’s fragile socio-economic and political climate, in 2017, the country peacefully transitioned to a new political regime through democratic means, and elections have remained peaceful. The Gambia recorded one of the most significant improvements in the overall ranking with a change of -0.061, moving it up 13 places in the rankings, from 66th in 2020 to 53rd. It improved across all three GPI domains, with the largest improvement occurring in the Ongoing Conflict domain. The Gambia has an overall score of 1.853.
Senegal holds an overall Global Peace Index rank of 54, with an overall score of 1.864 and a score change of -0007. The country was in 55th position in the overall ranking last year but moved one place up in the current ranking. Senegal’s ranking latest stride is due to its lowering levels of internal conflicts.
Tanzania is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa regardless of its huge slip on the global ranking. It is also the most peaceful country in East Africa. According to the recent Global Peace Index (GPI), Tanzania holds the 58th spot. The country declined in terms of peacefulness, nine places from its 49th position last year. Tanzania has an overall score of 1.982 and a score change of +0.062.
Malawi experienced a giant leap overtaking Liberia and Namibia to become the 8th most peaceful country in Africa. In the overall ranking, Malawi did the same by moving six places up in the ranking to take the 59th spot with a score of 1.909. However, there was no score change. The country has improved when it comes to political instability with little to no violence in the country.
#9: Equatorial Guinea
Another African country that also improved in terms of peacefulness is Equatorial Guinea. The country now occupies the 9th spot in Africa. Furthermore, Equatorial Guinea has an overall score of 1.915, earning it the 62nd most peaceful country globally. The county currently has a score change of +0.059.
Wrapping the top ten best-ranking African countries on the Global Peace Index is Namibia. The country was the 8th most peaceful country in Africa last year but slipped two places down to the 10th position. The country has an overall score of 1.927. Furthermore, Namibia is the 65th most peaceful country globally, with a score change of +0.038.
Other countries that have improved in terms of peacefulness in sub-Saharan Africa include Eswatini, Angola, Gabon, and Benin.
African Countries with the Worst Global Peace Index Ranking
Ethiopia recorded the biggest jump in deterioration in the sub-Saharan region. Obviously, part of the reason has to do with the Tigray conflict. Here are the top 10 countries with the lowest rankings.
#1: South Sudan
For more than six years, South Sudan has faced prolonged political crises, wars, and economic instability. Also, armed conflicts are ongoing, and it includes fights between various ethnic groups in the country. Weapons are also readily available to the population. All these have greatly affected the economy and also put them as the worst African country in peacefulness. There seems to be no improvement in South Sudan’s ranking. The country has an overall Global Peace Index score of 3.363 with a score change of -0.033 and ranks 160 globally.
Somalia takes second place when it comes to the worst, most peaceful countries in Africa. The country holds the 159th position overall, recording a Global Peace Index score of 3.211. Somalia has a score change of +0.034. Ongoing armed conflict, insecurity, lack of state protection, and recurring humanitarian crises have led to Somalia’s deterioration in terms of peacefulness.
#3: Democratic Republic of Congo
Coming third on the ranking for the second time in a row is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo occupies the 157th spot in the worst most peaceful countries with an overall Global Peace Index score of 3.196 and a score change of +0.012. Although the DRC enjoyed some prosperous years in the 1950s, the country fell apart again after its independence in 1960 and continues to face waves of violence and war. Consequently, the DRC still struggles to break free from its reputation as a country with political instability.
Libya recorded an increase in violent crime indicators. It has also become a great source of concern to the nation. Currently, the country holds 156th spot in the Global Peace Index ranking, moving one place below last year’s ranking. Libya currently has an overall global score of 3.166 and a score change of -0.006.
#5: Central African Republic
The Central African Republic still maintains the 155th position as it did last year. However, the country has an overall score of 3.131, with a score change of -0.043. Violent crime, such as armed robbery and homicide is common. Armed groups control large areas of the country. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice.
“End the wars” and “peace in our land” were the rallying cries for the protests that ultimately ousted Sudan’s long-ruling strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The country had been afflicted by a 40-year war with South Sudan, which resulted in South Sudan’s secession. There is still an intermittent war in the western region of the country, especially in Darfur. In the Global Peace Index ranking, Sudan still maintains the 153rd position with an overall score of 2.936. The country has an overall score change of -0.028.
Coming shortly after Sudan is Mali. The country holds the 7th position of worst African countries while also holding the 144th spot globally. This year, Mali fell by four places at the bottom of the overall ranking. The country experienced an overall score change of +0.088 and an overall score of 2.813. The increasing deterioration in peacefulness is due to the political tensions in the country.
Nigeria is the 8th worst country in peacefulness in Africa, with an overall ranking of 146. The country improved a bit by moving one place up from 147 in 2020. Nigeria also has a score change of -0.068, with an overall score of 2.712. The country continues to face challenges in security and ongoing conflict. The conflict between government forces and Boko Haram in the Northeast led to an increased rise in insecurity. Nigeria has also recorded further deteriorations in militarisation and ongoing conflict.
Cameroon’s overall ranking is 145. The country witnessed a deterioration of +0.060 from last year’s ranking. It is essential to also know that Cameroon has an overall Global Peace Index score of 2.700, as it drops four places below from 141 in 2020. The worsening violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions is taking an increasingly heavy toll on civilians, with renewed attacks on schools and a spate of incidents involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and extrajudicial killings documented in recent months. All these led to its deterioration in terms of peacefulness.
Ethiopia is least on the list of deteriorating countries on the 2021 Global Peace Index. The country has an overall ranking of 139. Ethiopia has an overall change score of +0.121, with a score of 2.613. The country experienced one of the largest deteriorations in terms of peace due to the fact that it dropped six places from 133 in 2020.
The IEP aims to foster economic growth, sustainability, and development while also ensuring that the world is on a path to peacefulness. It also seeks to measure the relationship between peace and the economy by producing the GPI. Obviously, Africa is making great strides at building peace. However, the continent needs to do more to sustain the progress so far. Which of the countries on the list surprised you the most? Feel free to share with us in the comment box below.
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