Every year, the Institute for Economics and Peace releases its Global Peace Index report. This report is the only one of its kind that measures how dangerous or safe a nation is based on 23 different indicators, including political terror, deaths from internal conflict, and murder rate.
The GPI report evaluates 163 countries that account for more than 99.7% of the world’s total population. The factors analyzed in the report are grouped into three different areas: Safety and Security, Ongoing Conflict, and Militarization. The factors used to compile this report include: the number of internal and external violent conflicts, level of distrust, politicla instability, potential for terrorist acts, number of homicides, and military expenditures as a percetnage of GDP. A score is calculated for each of the 163 nations featured in the report based on these factors. The higher the score, the more dangerous the country is and the lower it ranks in terms of safety.
Top 20 Most Dangerous Countries in the World (Global Peace Index 2022 — higher scores are less safe)
- Afghanistan — 3.554
- Yemen — 3.394
- Syria — 3.356
- Russia — 3.275
- South Sudan — 3.184
- DR Congo — 3.166
- Iraq — 3.157
- Somalia — 3.125
- Central African Republic — 3.021
- Sudan — 3.007
- Ukraine — 2.971
- North Korea — 2.942
- Libya — 2.930
- Mali — 2.911
- Ethiopia — 2.806
- Venezuela — 2.798
- Pakistan — 2.789
- Burkina Faso — 2.786
- Turkey — 2.785
- Colombia — 2.729
Compared to the 2021 Global Peace Index, the 2022 GPI saw global peace deteriorate by 0.3% overall, the eleventh decline in the past fourteen years. While 90 countries became safer and more peaceful, 71 became less so (and two stayed the same), which led to an overall slide. Declines in peace and safety, the report points out, happen faster and move further than improvements.
Unsurprisingly, two of the largest increases in danger from the 2021 report to the 2022 report occurred in Russia and Ukraine, which were at war with one another following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. The other three countries with the greatest increase in danger were Burkina Faso, Haiti, and Guinea, all of which were involved in armed conflicts to one degree or another.
Moving back on year, to the 2021 Global Peace Index saw 87 countries make safety improvements and 73 countries register deteriorations. Overall, the GPI average deteriorated by 0.07% from 2020 to 2021, and thirteen countries showed a “very low” state of peace. These countries have scores above 2.9. For comparison, the world’s safest countries have scores between 1.1 and 1.438.
In addition to determining the most dangerous countries in the world, the Global Peace Index also tracks the safest countries in the world. Also noteworthy is the fact that the GDI measures the safety of people as a whole. Other data sources may focus more specifically on certain demographics, such as the most dangerous countries for women or the most dangerous countries for Christians.
Profiles of the Most Dangerous Countries in the World
With a 2022 score of 3.554 (actually slightly safer than 2021's 3.631), Afghanistan remains the most dangerous country in the world for the fifth year in a row. A war-torn country that has been mired in war, revolution, and civil strife for decades, Afghanistan has a higher number of deaths from war and terrorism than any other country in the world—a considerable achievement considering Russia and Ukraine were actually at war for several months while the data was being collected.
According to the United Nations, Yemen is currently immersed in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than five years of ongoing military conflict has forced 4.3 million people to leave their homes and put 14 million people at risk of starvation and deadly disease. About 80% of the Yemen population (24 million people) is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
The Syrian civil war has plagued the country since March 2011 and has been the second-deadliest war of the 21st century. As of March 2019, 5.7 million people had fled Syria, and more than 6 million had been displaced internally. Syria's 2022 GPI of 3.356 can be attributed to ongoing conflict, civil unrest, and widespread violent crime, including robberies, assaults, carjacking, and kidnappings. Armed conflict exists mostly between the government and opposition groups, with little to no rule of law or order in place outside the country’s capital of Juba.
While most of the fighting in the Russo-Ukrainian War is taking place in Ukraine, Russia actually ranked as the more dangerous of the two countries. This is partially due to the fact that Russian army casualties in Ukraine count toward Russia's level of danger and partially due to pre-existing economic stresses and an authoritative government that is often notably hostile to its own populace. Additionally, trade embargoes and other international restrictions on Russia have strained Russia's economy and food trade and placed increased hardship on the Russian people.
However, it is also worth noting that the 2022 GPI report covered only the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War. It is possible that Ukraine will emerge as the more dangerous country of the two in the 2023 report. Regardless of the two countries' relative position, the repercussions of Russia's war with Ukraine were felt worldwide, particularly in the areas of energy and food scarcity, and are expected to continue reverberating through the 2023 report and beyond, causing rises in metrics including food insecurity, military expenditures, and political instability.
5. South Sudan
The least-peaceful country in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Sudan is hampered by high levels of internal conflict. Although still violently dangerous, the country has experienced an overall improvement in safety from the 2021 GPI to the 2022 GPI, with a notable decrease in both the number of deaths from internal conflict (a 15% reduction) and overall homicide rate, which is the country's lowest since 2011.
6. DR Congo
Ranking in the top three (along with Russia and Iraq) in the category of "deaths from external conflict," the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also the second-most-dangerous country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty and political unrest are an everyday occurrence, with rebels and armed forces wandering certain areas at will. Crimes including murder, rape, kidnapping, carjackings, burglaries, muggings, and highway robberies are fairly common. Even natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and even volcanic eruptions are a concern.
Iraq continues to have both internal and external conflicts, including likely terrorist attacks. ISIS continues to capture and kill both civilians and members of the Iraqi armed forces. Other human rights violations, including violations of freedom of assembly and women’s rights, have also persisted. U.S. citizens visiting Iraq are at particularly high risk for violence and kidnapping, being sought-after targets among Anti-U.S. sectarian militias throughout Iraq.
8-14. Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Ukraine.
In order, the additional countries categorized as having "very low peace" (a GPI of 2.9 or higher) are Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ukraine, North Korea, Libya, and Mali. The most dynamic among these countries in the 2022 report is Ukraine, whose safety dropped precipitously upon the country's invasion by Russia.