Whether it's where you live or where you're visiting this summer, your country falls somewhere on a sliding scale, from dangerous to safe. ValuePenguin set about finding the safest. Of the 195 or so countries in the world, 107 reported enough data to our reputable sources to be ranked. As we note in our methodology below, our belief is that a country without accessible data is less likely to be safe than one with troves of it. But don't trust us. Take a look at the numbers.
5 Safest Countries
These countries have an average safety score of 47, 62% lower than their typical peer in the study. They scored some of the best rankings in the seven data categories we analyzed: population, CO2 emissions and life expectancy as well as the number, per 100,000 people, of national police personnel, traffic deaths, thefts and assaults.
Switzerland's standing as the world's safest (according to our data, anyway) is strengthened by this fact: It averaged just seven violent crimes per 100,000 people. The country, which is next-door neighbors with the similarly safe Italy (No. 6) and France (No. 7), requires its citizens to apply for health care coverage. Officially known as the Swiss Confederation, it's simply a safe place to be. And the word is out, as two million members of its population are foreigners, the justice ministry's migration secretariat reported in July.
The most environmentally-friendly country among the top five -- it emitted 2.7 metric tons of CO2 in 2010, or 54% percent less than average -- Singapore is also known as the Republic of Singapore. The Southeast Asia island, just of the southern edge of Malaysia, has a "Department of Statistics," and its chief statistician enjoys legislative protection. The country may have also cracked the code on public housing.
Bested by Singapore in safety score by a .97 margin, Spain and its many different regions and city centers reported just 5.4 traffic deaths (61% less than its average peer) in 2010. The westernmost-country in the top five, Spain, it should be noted, raised its terror-alert level to "high" this summer. Andorra, its northern neighbor and the smallest nation in our study, ranked 98th in safety score.
The second island nation and the most populous country among the top five, Japan came in at No. 4, in part, because of its extremely high life expectancy. Like the Swiss, the Japanese live to an average age of 83. Only those residing in Hong Kong (a city that we included in our study because of its sheer size and available data) live longer, to 84. Japan is also "a cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia and is fundamental to to regional stability and prosperity," according to the U.S. Department of State's February fact sheet.
Rounding out our rankings for now (full list below), the Republic of Cyprus made it this high because it bested the aforementioned four cities in two categories: It ranked 21st overall in national police personnel per 100,000 people (with 466), and it ranked 22nd in thefts per 100,000 people (with 111). The number of cops in a country isn't necessarily linked to safety -- and we weighted it accordingly -- but having fewer thefts is a good sign regardless. The third island country among the top five, Cyprus had essentially been divided in two since 1974but has been progressing toward reunification.
Although we adjusted for population in our safety rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small country to a large one. To account for this fact, we separated the safest countries into three categories: those with populations up to 5 million; between 5 million and 20 million; and more than 20 million. Here are our findings:
The World's Safest Countries
Big Countries: >20M
Midsize Countries: 5-20M
- Hong Kong
Small Countries: <50M
- Costa Rica
To rank these countries, we collected data on a variety of safety-related topics from a variety of reputable sources, everything from the quality of countries’ water sources to their rates of kidnappings and the prevalence of drugs between their borders. Then we narrowed our list of data points to the seven listed below. These seven were chosen because of their connectedness to the idea of "everyday safety," but also because they were the most available for as many countries as we could fairly include in the study. And this is a fact of the study overall: We believe that a country that is open and up to date with its data is more likely to be safe than a country that isn’t. Unfortunately, there were also cases of inconsistencies in the reporting of their data that excluded some countries. Scotland and England, for example, are not included because of their reporting relationship with the United Kingdom at large.
Here are the details of our seven data points that comprise our "Safety Score," from weighted least to weighted most heavily:
Year of data: 2014
2. CO2 Emissions (in metric tons)
Source: The World Bank
3. National police personnel (per 100,000 residents)
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
4. Traffic deaths (per 100,000 residents)
Source: World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory Data Repository
5. Thefts (per 100,000 residents)
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- 6. Assaults (per 100,000 residents)
- Year: 2011
- Source: NationMaster
- 7. Life expectancy (in years)
- Year: 2013
- Source: The World Bank