Asia is a stunning continent. But beauty and safety don’t always go hand in hand. These are the least peaceful countries in Asia.
Data collected by the Institute for Economics and Peace measured the Global Peace Index of 163 nations using 23 indicators spanning three categories:
- Level of societal safety and security
- Extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict
- Degree of militarization
The Unwanted Ranking
The three indicators were used to rank countries on a scale of 1.0 (most peaceful) to 5.0 (least peaceful). These are the least peaceful countries in Asia.
Afghanistan has been both the least peaceful country in Asia and the least peaceful country in the world for the past five years, according to data from the Institute for Economics and Peace. Its Global Peace Index score of 3.554 reflects its poor scores across indicators like terrorism and perceptions of criminality.
With recorded declines in peacefulness every year since 2018, Yemen’s Global Peace Index score of 3.394 can be attributed to a struggling economy and political unrest. The violent demonstrations indicator score increased significantly, with at least 33 reported fatalities.
A Global Peace Index score of 3.356 reflects a pattern of political strife and human rights violations that have plagued Syria since the start of its civil war in 2011. Violent crime, terrorist activity, and political instability are among the affected peacefulness indicators.
More than a decade after the end of the US’s involvement in the Iraq War, the country still faces an uncertain future filled with violence and political strife, according to data from the Institute for Economics and Peace. Twenty years after the war began, Iraq still has one of the world’s highest Global Peace Index scores at 3.157.
#5: North Korea
It likely comes as no surprise that North Korea received one of the worst Global Peace Index scores in Asia. The totalitarian dictatorship received a 2.942 due to deteriorating scores for indicators like neighboring country relations, military expenditure, and nuclear and heavy weapons.
An increase in military expenditure and a poor score in the violent demonstrations indicator contribute to Pakistan’s Global Peace Index score of 2.789. The U.S. Department of State cites terrorist activity as a major reason to reconsider travel to the restless Asian nation.
If the recent re-election of controversial President Tayyip Erdoğan is any indication, Turkey has a long way to go to improve its Global Peace Index score of 2.789. The leader has been criticized for numerous human rights violations resulting in a deterioration in the country’s violent demonstrations indicator score.
Iran has made headlines in recent months for its abusive morality police, accused of killing a 22-year-old woman held in custody and as well as hundreds of protestors. It’s no surprise that the country’s Global Peace Index score of 2.687 reflects deteriorating scores in the jailed population and deaths from internal conflict indicators.
Following a military coup in February 2021, Myanmar saw Asia’s largest deterioration in the Global Peace Index. The effects of the coup continue to shake the country, with large increases in civil unrest and violent crime indicator scores. Security forces have been accused of various human rights violations, including murder, persecution, and even genocide.
Following an economic and financial crisis in 2019, Lebanon has yet to recover as it faces continued political instability. A Global Peace Index score of 2.615 reflects increased scores across the degree of militarization category.
An uptick in violent crime and perceptions of criminality indicators resulted in India’s Global Peace Index score of 2.578. The nation’s poor score was further impacted by a weaker post-COVID economy, political instability, and continued tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities.
The Holy Land has faced its fair share of trouble. A Global Peace Index score of 2.576 reflects poor scores in militarization and terrorist activity indicators.
#13: State of Palestine
According to data from the Institute for Economics and Peace, deteriorating scores in deaths from internal conflict and neighboring country relations indicators contribute to Palestine’s Global Peace Index score of 2.552.
A long-running conflict with neighboring Armenia has Azerbaijan on high alert. Increased scores in the military expenditure and armed services personnel indicators contribute to the West Asian country’s Global Peace Index score of 2.437.
While the Philippines ranked as the third least peaceful country in Asia for a second consecutive year, the island nation also recorded the largest improvement in the region. Positive changes in political stability, terrorism, and homicide rate indicators helped the country reach its lowest Global Peace Index score in a decade at 2.631.
There are 48 countries in Asia, with five main regions (Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Western Asia).
Peacefulness Trends in Asia
Even with the dire 2022 Global Peace Index scores recorded by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Asia as a whole has seen a moderate improvement in its average peacefulness scores across the board. Small decreases in the militarization indicator score across the continent contribute to this boost in peacefulness.
The Price of Inflation
Populations around the world are feeling the squeeze of inflation. The rising cost of supplies has increased food insecurity and political instability, most notably in many of the countries on this list, including Afghanistan, Yemen, and India.
Where to Travel in Asia
For peace of mind and a little Zen, head for Singapore. The country’s Global Peace Index score of 1.326 makes it the highest-ranked country in the region and the ninth most peaceful in the world.
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