Latvia improves in global peace ranking

Latvia is the 39th most peaceful nation in the world, and is ranked higher than last year, according to the Global Peace Index compiled by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.

The index, announced in May, ranks 140 nations.

“The index is composed of 24 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, which combine internal and external factors ranging from a nation’s level of military expenditure to its relations with neighbouring countries and the level of respect for human rights,” according to the organization’s Web site.

The organization admits that peace is “notoriously difficult to define.”

The index gives each nation an overall score from 1, indicating most peaceful, to 5, meaning least peaceful.

No. 1 on the list is Iceland with an overall score of 1.176. Latvia’s score is 1.723. Estonia, with a score of 1.702, ranked 35th. Lithuania, like Latvia with a score of 1.723, ranked 41st.

While Latvia scored high on some indicators, such as the level of political instability and respect for human rights, the country received fair to poor marks in other areas. For example, Latvia scored in the middle in terms of the level of residents’ mistrust of other citizens. On a 10-point scale showing the level of separation of church and state, with 10 being the highest, Latvia scored just 5.6.

Latvia’s ranking for 2008 is up from 2007, when it was put at 47th. Estonia, however, fell from 28th place in 2007. Lithuania improved slightly from its 2007 ranking of 43rd.

Russia ranked 131st, a finding criticized by some officials in Moscow as a result of bias toward the country. Scoring lowest were Israel, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and—in 140th place—Iraq.

Further information on the Global Peace Index is available by visiting

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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