PHOTO: Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo via Wiki Images)
With recent suicide bombings and terrorism hitting countries all over the globe, countless travelers are asking the same question: where is it safe to travel? Well, considering that the world is becoming more interconnected every day and political struggles are transcending borders, that's a relative question. It really depends on when, where and how you travel. So many factors affect safe travels but besides consulting the U.S. State Department Travel Alerts, and Warnings, travelers can also consider the Global Peace Index when making travel plans.
The Institute for Economics & Peace creates the index each year after measuring the social, economic and political factors that create peace as well as the risks for instability and violence. According to the 2015 Global Peace Index, these are the top five safest places to visit in the world:
This small Nordic nation has topped the list as the safest country in the world since the Index was started in 2007. And with good reason; despite its bloody Viking history, Iceland enjoys extremely low crime levels and has not experienced any recent political or military conflicts. Noted for a dramatic landscape of geysers, glaciers and volcanoes, the most danger that travelers experience in Iceland is from tacking the harsh weather and natural elements. The most popular tourist attractions are the hot springs of The Blue Lagoon, waterfalls in Gullfoss and seafood-based Nordic cuisine in Reykjavik.
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This small Scandinavian is consistently ranked as one of the best countries to live in the world, thanks to a consistently stable economy, low unemployment and the resulting low crime rates. Must see spots include Tivoli Gardens, boasting the famous "Little Mermaid" statue, Copenhagen's royal palaces and quaint cobble-stoned streets and Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
Austria enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and rarely suffers from political unrest or violence, although as a major transport and finance hub, the potential for terrorist threats is closely monitored. Travelers flock to see the legendary Danube River, which flows near the capital of Vienna, charming alpine villages, as well as the fairytale prettiness of Salzburg - birthplace of Mozart.
4. New Zealand
A South Pacific paradise known for a stunning natural environment and friendly locals, New Zealand has a stable economy, strict gun laws and low political corruption, which fosters a safe environment (although petty crime is very common). Travelers love to check out the coastal beauty of Milford Sound, the lakes, volcanoes and forests of Tongariro National Park and Fiordland National Park, which served as the setting for the "Lord of the Rings" films.
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Switzerland has long been recognized as one of the safest countries in Europe and its citizens, the most honest. That's generally due to a thriving economy and high standard of living but the major cities do experience non-violent crimes. The Swiss Alps make the country a skier and hiker's dream and visitors also enjoy cruising on Lake Geneva and perusing the history and beauty of Chillon Castle.
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