What Are the Safest Countries in the World?

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A country’s safety is measured with data like crime rates, political and economic stability, emergency services, and so on. The top five safest countries are Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, and Austria.

When you’re traveling or moving to a new country, safety is a top concern. Many people measure safety by whether they can walk alone at night without fear, but safety also encompasses areas like crime rates, political and economic stability, emergency services, the strength of the legal system, and natural disaster preparedness. In this article, we’ll cover the safest countries in the world, including the safest countries overall, the safest countries for women, and the safest countries for the LBGTQ+ community.

What are the safest countries overall?

Many organizations rank the safety of countries around the world, such as the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), which releases the Global Peace Index. The GPI covers 163 countries and measures peace (which is used interchangeably with safety in this article) across three areas: the level of societal safety and security; the level of ongoing domestic and international conflict; and the level of militarization. According to the 2022 report, Europe was the most peaceful region as it was home to the world’s four of the five most peaceful countries. Here were the top 5 safest countries according to the GPI:

#1. Iceland

Iceland has topped the GPI’s list of most peaceful countries since 2008. According to The Culture Trip, this is largely due to the country’s very low murder rate (around 1.4 per 100,000 people in 2020), its lack of an official military, and unarmed police. Iceland also scores very high on the happiness index, which is measured with good life expectancies, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, and community cohesion.

#2. New Zealand

Like Iceland, New Zealand has a very small population and a low crime rate. It helps that New Zealand’s population is spread across a relatively large land mass, which is isolated from other countries. New Zealand also has very strong gun laws; in 2019, lawmakers took immediate action after a mass shooting and banned military-style semi-automatic firearms. New Zealand also has a stable government, which contributes to overall safety. In 2023, New Zealand was also the world’s 10th happiest country.

#3. Ireland

Ireland is overall very safe for travelers and residents. According to Statista, there were just 53 murders in 2021 and 69 murders in 2022. Because the population is so small, any increase is concerning, but the murder rate remains much lower than in many other countries. Travelers should be aware of pickpockets in Dublin, but that’s true of any major city. Ireland also has very few guns and good political stability.

#4. Denmark

According to the website Travel Safe Abroad, Denmark owes its high safety ranking to low petty crime, low risk for natural disasters, low murder rates, and a strong economy and welfare system. The country’s small population also makes it easier to avoid political conflict. In 2023, it was the world’s second-happiest country after Finland.

#5. Austria

Austria has the same features as all of the safe countries on this list: a low overall crime rate, a strong economy, and a stable government. It has a low murder rate, as well, and while it has similar gun ownership to the United States, it has significantly less gun violence.

Other safe countries

  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Czech Republic
  • Singapore
  • Japan

What are the safest countries for women?

Safety is a concern for all travelers and residents, but women face specific threats to their safety. We can gain insight into the safest countries for women by looking at the Women, Peace and Security Index, which is released by Georgetown University. It looks at three areas for women’s inclusion (economic, political, and social); justice (formal laws and informal discrimination); and security (individual, community, and societal levels). It covers 170 countries. Here are the top 5 safest countries for women according to this index:

#1. Norway

Norway is considered one of the world’s best countries for gender equality. It’s been consistently moving toward gender parity through legislation, which includes 2018’s Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act. The country’s overall murder rate is .57 per 100,000 people, while the female murder rate is .37 per 100,000. Generally, traveling alone is very safe for women, although if you’re hiking and camping, the weather can put any solo traveler at risk.

#2. Finland

Finland was one of the first countries to give women the vote, so it has a long history of progress in gender equality. As for crime, property and traffic crimes are the most common, while murder and alcohol are a common pairing. Women traveling alone are generally safe in Finland, including in the big cities, though the usual precautions should be taken.

#3. Iceland

As one of the GPI’s most peaceful countries, it makes sense for Iceland to also be fairly safe for women. Low crime rates, low murder rates, and social support all help create a welcoming, non-threatening environment for women living in Iceland or traveling alone. It also ranks well on gender equality measurements such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. It has one of Europe’s highest rates of female participation in the workforce and good legislation combating gender-based violence and harassment.

#4. Denmark

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, Denmark earned a 77.8/100 score in 2022, with 100 representing full equality between men and women. The country frequently appears on lists of the safest countries for solo female travelers thanks to a low crime rate and views toward women. Copenhagen, the city’s capital, is also very walkable and fairly safe at night.

#5. Luxembourg

The European Institute for Gender Equality gave Luxembourg a 73.5/100 on its progress toward full gender equality in 2022. The country has made good strides toward ensuring equal political representation and addressing violence against women, though many of these metrics are hard to track. Property damage and petty theft make up most of the crime in Luxembourg, while violent crime is fairly low. Luxembourg is very tiny (just over 640,000 people lived there in 2021), which affects crime rates. Generally, women can travel safely while taking basic precautions.

Other safe countries for women

  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Canada

What are the safest countries for the LGBTQ+ community?

Even in some generally safe countries, the LGBTQ+ community is often most at risk for violence and harassment. In 2021, UCLA’s School of Law Williams Institute released a report examining the social acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in 175 countries from 1981-2020. In general, the average level of acceptance rose globally, but certain countries are more accepting than others. Here are the top 5:

#1. Iceland

Iceland is progressive and has good social protections for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2010, Iceland unanimously voted to legalize a gender-neutral marriage definition while in 2015, the National Church of England concluded that Icelandic priests can’t deny marriage based on sexual orientation. As acceptance is common in Iceland, it’s a generally safe and welcoming place to live and travel. Reykjavik has held a gay pride parade since 1999, attracting visitors from around the world.

#2. The Netherlands

The Netherlands has a long history of paving the way for LGBTQ+ protections. In 2000, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Since 2014, transgender people have been able to legally change their gender without surgery or hormone therapy. In 2018, the court added a neutral option to a person’s legal gender identity. Most people in the country accept the LGBTQ+ community, which makes it one of the safest countries to live and travel.

#3. Norway

Norway was one of the first countries to include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination laws, while same-sex marriage has been legal since 2009. In a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, 72% of Norwegians reported support for same-sex marriage. Transgender people also have good protections; in 2016, Norway made it legal to self-declare your gender. High acceptance translates to a safe environment for LGBTQ+ residents and travelers.

#4. Sweden

In 1944, Sweden decriminalized homosexuality. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2009. It’s now recognized as one of Europe’s most gay-friendly countries. According to Visit Sweden, the country has more pride festivals per capita than anywhere else. Overall, Sweden is safe for LGBTQ+ travelers and residents.

#5. Canada

In Canada, where the LGBTQ+ community is referred to as the LGBTQ2I community, protections are good. Acceptance is also very high, which has made Canada an appealing choice for those looking to immigrate. There are still legal hurdles that need to be addressed. For travelers, Canada has appeared on many lists ranking the safest gay-friendly countries.

Other safe countries for the LGBTQ+ community

  • Spain
  • Malta
  • Great Britain
  • New Zealand
  • Belgium

What can you do to stay safe while moving or traveling to another country?

Whether you’re new to a country or just passing through, there are things you should do to stay safe. These best practices apply to any country, even the safest countries in the world. Here are three of the most important tips:

#1. Create an emergency plan

Emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s important to create a plan before anything goes wrong. Research the areas you’ll be traveling to and record the closest emergency services, like the police, hospital, emergency dentist, and so on. It’s also a good idea to know where your home country’s embassy is. For medical issues, consider buying a basic first aid kit supplied with essentials like painkillers, bandages, anti-allergy meds, antibacterial wipes, and sunscreen.

#2. Secure your valuables

Pickpockets and theft can be a real problem in certain areas, including the less safe parts of the safest countries. You want to secure everything you do not wish to lose, such as your passport, phone, laptop, camera, wallet, and so on. Most backpacks aren’t great at preventing theft, so consider getting an anti-theft backpack or at least never letting your bag out of your sight. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask if they have a safe where you can secure especially valuable items.

#3. Stay aware of your surroundings

Situational awareness is arguably the most important thing to remember when in a new country. You want to stay alert to different traffic rules, dark alleyways, less safe areas in a city, suspicious strangers, and so on. You also want to make it clear you’re aware of your surroundings as potential thieves and attackers tend to avoid confident victims. Don’t stare at your phone all the time, don’t drink too much, and keep your wits about you.