Safest Countries in North America
North America is a continent with many thriving nations, many of which are considered among the safest countries in the world. Safety in the world's countries is typically measured using the Global Peace Index (GDI), a metric computed each year by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The GPI combines 23 different indicators, from the number of homicides to the potential for terrorism, and combines them into one easy-to-understand value. When evaluated by 2022 GPI, the top three safest countries in North America are Canada, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Top 10 Safest Countries in North America by 2022 GDI (lower scores are better):
- Canada — 1.389
- Costa Rica — 1.732
- Panama — 1.876
- Dominican Republic — 1.990
- Jamaica — 1.990
- Trinidad & Tobago — 2.005
- Cuba — 2.083
- Guatemala — 2.139
- El Salvador — 2.231
- Haiti — 2.254
A sampling of the safest countries in North America:
Safety in Canada (1.389)
The safest country in North America also ranked as the 12th-safest country in the world in 2022. In fact, some sources rate it even higher. The annual US News & World Report "Best Countries" list ranked Canada as the 4th safest country on Earth, and Berkshire Hataway's "Safest Places to Travel" list slotted Canada in at #3. Not only did Canada handle the COVID-19 pandemic safely and efficiently, the country's crime rates and violent crime rates are both comparatively low. The Canadian police are trusted and responsive, gun controls are strict, jobs are plentiful and health care is free, Canadians are tolerant (it's the most GLBTQ+ friendly country in the world), and corruption is minimal.
Safety in Costa Rica (1.732)
Costa Rica stands out among Central American nations for its progressive attitudes toward health care, education, the environment, and more. It is still wise to avoid vulnerable situations such as leaving luggage unattended, visiting ATMs after dark, or walking alone on the beach after dark if you are female. However, Costa Rica depends heavily on tourism and has made stamping out crime a priority, including adding police (and beach lifeguards—riptides can be dangerous) wherever necessary. Costa Rica also has few dramatic weather events, the water is safe to drink, most of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19.
Safety in Mexico (2.612)
Mexico has a dodgy reputation, especially with regard to its violent drug cartels and questionable police presence. However, it also has safe regions to visit. Cancun, a resort area, is known to be one of the safest tourist areas. Yucatan is another frequently visited location that is famously safe. Other safe spots in Mexico are Cozumel, an island near Cancun that feels like paradise, as well as Guerrero, Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, and Sinaloa. On the other hand, tourists are typically advised to avoid border towns, which have an increased risk of criminal activity and violence.
Safety in the United States (2.440)
Despite being a global superpower, the United States ranks near the bottom of the list in regard to safety—in 2022, its GPI earned the US 129th place out of 163 countries. Many factors contribute to this rating, including the country's high level of militarization and tendency to get involved in armed conflicts around the world, the fact that it is frequently targeted by terrorist organizations, and especially the country's sub-optimal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another major influence is the United States' firearm and gun control issues, which have resulted in abnormally high rates of gun violence and gun death. Additionally, the 2022 GPI report notes that the United States is currently experiencing a high level of civil unrest, with notable increases in the "political terror", "political instability", and "internal military spending" categories.
Despite these shortcomings, the US has one of the most powerful judicial systems in the world, reliable utilities which ensure that electrical outages and water shortages are rare, and a safe transportation system. The US also has a deep well of security and safety resources to offer both citizens and visitors alike.