Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

And the Most Peaceful Country in the World Is…

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 18, 2012


According to the annual Institute for Economics & Peace releases its Global Peace Index, Somalia is not a top holiday destination.
Pétur Bjarni Gíslason / Getty

PÉTUR BJARNI GÍSLASON / GETTY
Iceland, land of the peaceful

Anyone seeking that elusive state of affairs known as ‘peace on Earth’ had better also have an appetite for volcanoes, glaciers and hot springs. Iceland, the little Nordic island with no standing army and the smallest population of any a NATO member state, is the most peaceful country in the world, according to  the annual Global Peace Index compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace.

(MORE: Icelanders Avoid Inbreeding Through Online Database)

Iceland is one of the most progressive nations on the planet: its welfare system offers health care and higher education for every one of its 320,000 citizens; it is powered in large part by renewable geothermal energy (see volcanoes, above); and it was one of the first countries in the world to legalize gay marriage.

While the country has hit some thin ice recently — in 2008 it basically went bankrupt, prompting public riots, and in 2010 a unpronouncable Icelandic volcano wreaked travel chaos across the north Atlantic — it’s general reputation as a pleasant liberal paradise put it at number one on the group’s list.

Iceland is followed by Denmark and New Zealand, tied for second place.

Out of the 158 countries listed, the war-torn east African nation of Somalia came in dead last, while Syria, which the U.N. says has devolved  into full-blown civil war, has dropped more than 30 places in the rankings.

For those countries on the bottom half of the leader board, there is still hope: the Institute for Economics & Peaces reports that according to its data, the world has become a more peaceful place overall for the first time since 2009.

MORE: Ex-Miss Iceland Wins $2 Million Reward for Helping Nab James ”Whitey” Bulger

Read other related stories about this:

@TIME

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