LONDON — Canada is 14th among 149 nations in the fourth annual Global Peace Index issued by the British-based Institute for Economics and Peace.
The think tank says the world is a less peaceful place this year, largely due to a rise in crime and civil unrest fuelled by the global financial crisis.
But the London institute also says the risk of outright armed conflict appears to be falling.
The index is based on 23 indicators, ranging from military expenditure to relations with neighbouring countries and levels of violent crime.
New Zealand earned the top spot in the index for a second year in a row and is one of only three countries in the top 10 to improve in peacefulness in the 2010 Index.
Iceland moved into the second spot, followed by Japan, Austria, Norway and Ireland. Iraq is 149th and last, just below Somalia and Afghanistan, and the United States was 85th.
The annual report says South Asia saw the greatest drop in peacefulness, largely due to increased involvement in conflicts, more deaths from internal conflict and human rights abuses.
Western Europe continues to be the most peaceful region, with the majority of the countries ranking in the top 20. All five Scandinavian nations rank in the top 10.
Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan were the least peaceful countries for the second consecutive year. Syria, Georgia, the Philippines, Russia and Cyprus were this year’s biggest fallers.
The US improved its 2010 score but slipped three spots due to the addition of new countries and the re-rating of the number of heavy weapons.
The institute estimates violence is costing the global economy $7 trillion a year.
It says a 25 per cent reduction in violence would save about $1.7 trillion a year, enough to pay off Greece’s debt and help the European Union reach its 2020 climate and carbon goals.