Peace, according to Wiki, is defined as a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence. In short, peace can simply be the absence of violence and the absence of the fear of violence.
The Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has just recently released a report on a survey conducted by them which gives key indicators how peaceful the world we're all in is. The June 11th report has taken 162 countries into its index which was finally compiled and known as the 2013 Global Peace Index (GPI), the world's leading measure of national peacefulness. According to the index, the world peace is deteriorating by 5% mark in comparison to the last 5 years (2008). The largest contributing factor to this decline is the war-torn Syria when the middle eastern country's GPI drops by 70%. This also made Syria (score of 3.393) into the bottom three in the peace index (160 out of 162).
Sitting at the top of the index with 1.162 points is Iceland. It maintains its reigning position for the third straight year. It then followed by Denmark (1.207), New Zealand (1.237), Austria (1.250), and Switzerland (1.272) in the top five positions of the most peaceful countries in the world. Note that the lower scores actually translate to higher state of peace. Asia's finest, Japan, improved to 6th position from the 7th spot in 2012. Finland (1.297), Canada (1.306), Sweden (1.319) and Belgium (1.339) complete the list of top 10 countries in the index.
As expected, those few war-ravaged, conflicting countries will sit at the very bottom of the list. Afghanistan drops to the last spot with 3.440 points scored and followed by Somalia (3.394) at second worst. Iraq (3.245), Sudan (3.242), Pakistan (3.306), Congo (3.085), Russia (3.060), North Korea (3.044), and Central Africa (3.031) join above Syria in the GPI list.
Since 7 out of the 10 top peaceful countries belonged to European continent, the region is considered to be the most peaceful compared to other regions. North America region comes second to Europe, thanks to high-scoring Canada. The third continent with higher state of peace could probably be the Asia. Although Japan is the only country put high in the top 10 and Singapore (1.438) at #16, many other Asian countries come up in the 20s. Taiwan (1.538) grabs #26 spot and Malaysia (1.574) is at #29. Sadly, Brunei is not at all listed in the index. IEP must have been forgotten about this little kingdom called Brunei. Else, it may be sitting above Taiwan and Malaysia in the GPI, at least.
From the GPI map, ASEAN countries are doing quite well in maintaining peace. Singapore is in the best state of peace in the region while Malaysia, Vietnam, and Laos are in the top 50. Only Thailand, Myanmar, and the Philippines are in the danger zone, each one closes to 130th positions. Since I live in Malaysia, I think I agree with the report. Although there are rampant armed robberies, auto thefts, rape cases, and other petty offenses, it's still safe to walk alone in any parts of the country without carrying a weapon for self protection. Vigilant is all we need to remember to be.
Key GPI indicators for Malaysia:
- Perceived criminality in society: 2.0
- Security officers and police: 2.0
- Homicides: 2.0
- Jailed population: 1.5
- Access to weapons: 1.0
- Internal conflict: 1.0
- Violent demonstrations: 3.0
- Violent crime: 2.0
- Political instability: 1.5
- Terrorist activity: 1.0
- Nuke and heavy weapons: 1.36
- Adult literacy rate: 93.1%
- Hostility to foreigners: 1/4