Wondering which countries are your safest bet for a potential move abroad?
For 2024, the safest countries in the world (in descending order) are:
- New Zealand
I’ve personally experienced traveling to over half of the countries in this list (plus 40+ more during my two-decade travel career).
For this article, I also draw on data from the latest Global Peace Index – one of the most comprehensive sources available.
What’s the Safest Place to Live in the World?
Iceland is the safest place to live in the world.
It ranks number one on the latest edition of the Global Peace Index, with a score of 1.124.
Even better, it’s held that same position for the last decade.
Understanding the Global Peace Index
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) releases its Global Peace Index every year. The latest edition was released on June 29, 2023.
The Global Peace Index is one of the best ways to evaluate how safe countries are. (For contrast, here’s our roundup of most dangerous countries in the world)
The Global Peace Index ranks 163 countries on their levels of peacefulness.
‘Peacefulness’ is made up of several factors, including the following:
- Number of violent deaths
- Impact of terrorism
- Nuclear capability
- Conditions of peace
- Social security
- Internal conflicts
- International relations
Despite the war in Ukraine on Europe’s doorstep, EU/EEA countries still dominate the Global Peace Index.
In fact, the list of safest countries in the world for 2024 includes seven EU/EEA countries at the very top,.
So you can imagine what an asset it would be to have free access to all countries in the EU and EEA.
So without any further ado, let’s look at our list of 12 safest countries in the world in 2024.
The 12 Safest Countries in The World (And What Makes Them So Safe)
Iceland takes the GPI crown for the safest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Austria in the top five.
But what exactly makes these 12 countries so safe? Let’s examine them all in more detail.
Iceland is the safest country in the world, yet again, according to the latest Global Peace Index data.
The index is comprised of a variety of factors, including the number of homicides, the level of violent crime, and the availability of small arms.
What’s more, the index takes into account factors such as the number of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as the level of political instability.
Iceland also has a low rate of natural disasters, making it a safe place to live. Based on all these factors, Iceland ranks as one of the safest countries in the world.
It’s also one of the safest countries for women, thanks to its policies that promote gender equality.
As well as being ultra safe, Iceland is also an exceptionally beautiful country.
It’s home to some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world, including glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.
According to the most recent GPI, Denmark is the second safest country in the world, having jumped up from fourth place in the previous year.
There are a number of reasons why Denmark is such a safe place to live.
First of all, it has a low crime rate. In 2018, there were only 127 recorded homicides in Denmark, which is an incredibly low number.
Secondly, Denmark has a strong economy and welfare system, which helps to reduce inequality and social unrest.
Finally, Denmark is a small country with a relatively homogeneous population, which makes it easier to maintain law and order.
All of these factors contribute to Denmark’s status as a safe haven for its citizens.
According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland remains the third safest country in the world.
It achieved this position in 2022, and has held onto it in the latest version of the Global Peace Index.
For starters, the country has a low murder rate. In 2018, there were just 33 murders in all of Ireland. That’s fewer than one per 100,000 people, which is well below the global average.
Ireland also has a low rate of violent crime. In fact, according to Eurostat, it had the second lowest rate of violent crime in the European Union in 2017.
In addition to being one of the safest countries in terms of crime, Ireland is also largely free of conflict and terrorism.
Despite Ireland’s troubled history, there have been no major terrorist incidents in recent years.
Ireland isn’t involved in any active conflicts. It has a policy of military neutrality and it’s not a member of NATO.
Could you be eligible for Irish citizenship? Find out in our guide to getting an Irish passport.
#4. New Zealand
New Zealand is the fourth safest country in the world (having dropped two places from second place last year).
There are several reasons why New Zealand is such a safe place to live. For one, it has a relatively small population and a low crime rate.
What’s more, the government is stable and there’s little political unrest within the country. At the same time, New Zealand is also rated one of the world’s freest countries.
New Zealand is extremely safe from external threats, such as war, due to its isolated location in the southwest Pacific Ocean.
But in terms of natural disasters, New Zealand is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, so it’s important to know what to do in the event of an emergency.
The good news is, there are strict building codes in place to help protect against earthquake damage. Most New Zealanders are well prepared for any potential disasters.
So while there are some risks to be aware of, overall New Zealand is a safe and secure place to live.
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Austria is ranked the fifth safest country in the world, and the third safest out of the EU 27 countries.
So what makes Austria this way? Well, there are a few factors.
First, Austria has a low crime rate. There are few violent crimes and property crimes are relatively rare. This makes Austria a very safe place to live.
Secondly, the Austrian economy is strong. There’s less crime overall, because people are less likely to turn to criminal activity when they have a stable income.
Lastly, Austria has a strong government and political system. This ensures that the country is well-run and that there’s little corruption.
All of these factors combine to make Austria a very safe place to live.
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Singapore has improved its score in the recent index, jumping from ninth position to sixth position. It’s also the safest country in Asia.
So why is Singapore such a safe place to live?
Well, there are a few reasons. First of all, it has low levels of crime. This is thanks to effective law enforcement, which works hard to keep the streets safe.
Singapore has tough laws and punishments for criminals. The government takes a zero-tolerance approach to crime, and this helps to deter would-be criminals from committing crimes in the first place.
Singapore has a strong police force. The Singapore Police Force is highly efficient and has a good track record of keeping crime under control. This helps to make Singapore feel safe for its residents and visitors alike.
Those who are caught breaking the law can expect to be severely punished, which acts as a further deterrent.
Singapore also has strict gun control laws, which help to prevent gun violence. And finally, Singapore has a strong culture of respect for authority and the law.
What’s more, Singapore is a clean and orderly country. The city is well-organized, and there is a general sense of orderliness among its residents. This creates an overall feeling of safety and security.
Portugal is popular for its stunning scenery, Mediterranean climate, and laid-back vibes.
But in recent years, Portugal has also been receiving attention for another reason: its safety.
According to the latest Global Peace Index, Portugal is ranked the seventh safest country in the world.
One factor is the low level of income inequality. In Portugal, the wealthiest 20% of households earn just 7.5 times more than the poorest 20%.
This compares favorably to other developed countries like the United States, where the richest 20% earn nearly 12 times more than the poorest 20%.
Income inequality has been linked to higher levels of crime and violence, so Portugal’s relatively equal distribution of wealth may help to explain its low crime rate.
The country also benefits from a strong rule of law. In Portugal, property rights are well-protected and government corruption is relatively rare.
This creates a stable environment that discourages crime and promotes economic growth.
Portugal has a long history of peaceful relations with its neighbors.
It hasn’t been directly involved in a major war for over 200 years, and the government remains committed to resolving disputes through diplomacy rather than force.
All of these factors combine to create a safe and welcoming environment in Portugal.
Does Portugal appeal to you as a place to live? Check out our 2024 guide on moving to Portugal.
I think Madeira deserves a special mention as one of the absolute safest spots in Portugal.
Madeira is one of the safest parts of Portugal for several reasons.
First, its location, over 1,000 km from the Portuguese mainland, which makes it less accessible to criminals. Anyone committing a crime on Madeira would find it difficult to escape before being caught.
Second, the island has a small population and no crime families or gangs, so there are fewer opportunities for crime. In fact, Madeira is virtually crime-free!
Lastly, Madeira has a strong police presence, and the government has invested heavily in security measures.
Personally, I feel 100% safe walking around the Madeira capital, Funchal, at any time of the day or night.
Interested in moving to Madeira? Check out our Living in Madeira guide.
Slovenia is a small, almost landlocked country in Central Europe with a population of just over 2 million people.
It has a short coastline along the Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Croatia.
Despite its size, Slovenia consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world.
It was ranked the 8th safest country in the most recent Global Peace Index.
Several factors contribute to Slovenia’s safety ranking. One is the low level of crime.
There were only 1.4 homicides per 100,000 people in Slovenia in 2020, compared to a global average of 6.2 per 100,000 people.
Similarly, the rate of petty crime – such as theft and vandalism – is also relatively low.
Another factor contributing to Slovenia’s high safety ranking is its high level of political stability. It currently has a center-left government, the Freedom Movement (GS). Slovenia has been a member of the European Union since 2004.
Slovenia also benefits from its location. Nestled between Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy, it’s far from any areas of conflict or unrest.
Japan is the ninth safest country in the world. It has improved by one position from last year’s ranking.
Japan is a safe place to live, mainly because it has a very low crime rate. I’ve even heard stories about people dropping their wallet on the street, only to have it quickly returned by a friendly passer-by.
In 2019, there were only 2.3 murders per 100,000 people in Japan, compared to 5 per 100,000 people in the United States.
Japan also has strict gun control laws that make it difficult for criminals to obtain firearms.
Also, the Japanese government has invested heavily in security measures such as CCTV cameras and metal detectors, which help to deter crime.
Finally, Japanese culture puts great importance on having respect for others and a commitment to peace.
This social norm helps to create a sense of safety and order that contributes to Japan’s low crime rate.
Out of the safest countries in the world, Switzerland is ranked number 10 on the Global Peace Index.
Reasons for this include the country’s stable economy, democratic government, and low crime rate. Plus, Switzerland’s long-standing neutrality is another key factor in keeping the country safe.
The country hasn’t been involved in a war since 1815, and this has helped it avoid much of the violence and turmoil that other nations have experienced.
But the war in Ukraine has caused Switzerland to lean closer to NATO by adopting sanctions against Russia.
Switzerland is also known for its stance on guns.
Although the country has one of the world’s highest rates of gun ownership, it also has an extremely low rate of gun-related street crime or mass shootings. Guns in Switzerland are far more tightly regulated than most people think.
Switzerland also has one of the world’s strongest passports. Although it’s not an EU member state, having Swiss citizenship gives you the same rights to live, work, study and retire anywhere in the EU or EEA.
Canada also performed well on the latest Global Peace Index.
It ranked 11th, a testament to its low crime rates, stable political climate, and well-functioning social systems.
One of the factors contributing to Canada’s safety is its commitment to multiculturalism. The nation embraces diversity, fostering a sense of unity and tolerance among its citizens.
This has led to a state of harmonious coexistence among people from various backgrounds, minimizing the likelihood of conflicts and social unrest.
Another aspect that sets Canada apart is its strong rule of law and effective law enforcement agencies.
The Canadian police force is generally well-resourced and focused on community engagement, ensuring that crimes are prevented and swiftly dealt with when they do occur.
What’s more, Canada’s robust education system and comprehensive social welfare programs help to alleviate poverty and promote social mobility, further reducing the potential for crime.
Lastly, Canada’s international relations are characterized by diplomacy and peaceful cooperation. The country actively participates in global initiatives and conflict resolution efforts, contributing to its overall peaceful reputation.
Czechia (formerly known as the Czech Republic) is an incredibly safe place to live, work, and raise a family.
The most recent Global Peace Index ranks Czechia at number 12.
The small Central European nation has a long history of peace and stability, and its low crime rates and lack of terrorism make it a safe place to live.
And while it’s always important to take precautions when traveling in any unfamiliar place, Czechia is generally very welcoming to tourists and has a strong infrastructure for keeping visitors safe.
From its well-maintained public transportation system to its many police officers and security cameras, Czechia takes safety seriously.
Czechia also has strong gun control laws, which help to keep its citizens safe. What’s more, Czechia is a member of NATO, which provides further security – important in these volatile times.
Is Europe safer than USA?
Yes, Europe is typically safer than the USA. In fact, 13 of the world’s top 20 safest countries are located in Europe. In contrast, the United States ranks in 129th place on the latest Global Peace Index, lower than Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Republic of the Congo.
What’s the safest place on earth to live?
Iceland is the safest place to live on Earth, according to the latests Global Peace Index, where it ranked number one for the 13th year in a row. New Zealand is also extremely safe, coming in second on the same index.
What’s the safest country in Asia?
Singapore is the safest country in Asia, ranking number six on the 2023 Global Peace Index. The country has low crime rates, effective law enforcement and strict gun control laws.
How does Portugal rank for safety?
Portugal usually ranks high on global indices of peace and safety. Portugal is especially safe because of its long-term political stability, low crime rates, and strict gun control laws. Portugal doesn’t get involved in foreign conflicts, so the risk of terrorist attacks is extremely low.
What’s the safest country in Europe?
Iceland is the safest country in Europe. According to latest data from the Global Peace Index, Iceland is ranked number one on the list of most peaceful countries in the world. Among the countries of the European Union (Iceland is not an EU member), Ireland is ranked top.
Before you go…
Finding a safe country to live in has become a high priority as we move into 2024.
Europe dominates the top 12 safest countries in the world, which including eight countries from either the European Union or the European Economic Area.
EU citizenship gives you the right to live freely in any of those eight safest countries, far away from war, gun crime, and oppression. That’s why an EU passport is such an important asset.
Next up, check out our guide on how to move to Europe.
- 30 Most Powerful Passports (And How To Get Them)
- 15 Cheapest Countries in Europe to Live In
- The 9 Best Retirement Visas in Europe for 2024