For the last 13 years, the Institute for Economics & Peace has published the Global Peace Index (GPI), the leading measure of world peacefulness. The institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

Classic Journeys guests are sort of experts in this already according to the way that the IEP seeks to achieve its goals by promoting a better understanding of the cultural, economic and political factors that create peace.

Promoting peace as a measurement of human well-being and progress, the GPI ranks 163 nations (that’s 99.7% of the world’s population) on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most peaceful and 5 being the least.

And 2019’s GPI brings uplifting news: global peacefulness has improved for the first time in five years!

The most peaceful country on the planet retains the top spot as it has for the past 12 years and Europe is still the most peaceful region, a title it’s held since the GPI began. In fact, 17 of the 25 most peaceful countries in the world are found in Europe.

And more good news for Classic Journeys guests. There’s a definite correlation between the most peaceful countries, the happiest countries (according to the World Happiness Report) and many of the most popular countries to visit with Classic Journeys. Read on and prepare to be happy!

10: Czech Republic

GPI score: 1.375/5

Nicknamed the ‘heart of Europe’, Czechia sits right in the middle of the world’s most peaceful continent. It’s also home to thousands of fairy-tale castles, has hundreds of thermal baths and beer brewing is at the heart of its culture.

Insider tip: Don’t miss out on a tasting with artisans at a local brewery Cesky Krumlov, one of the country’s most remarkably preserved villages, now recognized as a historic site itself.

9: Japan

GPI score: 1.391/5

Japan falls within the top five countries for ‘Safety and Security’ and holds position three for peacefulness in the Asia-Pacific region. This awesome archipelago is also one of the most literate, environmentally friendly and all-around fascinating nations in the world. Japanese culture dates back thousands of years and the country has a legacy of technological entrepreneurship, decorous gardens, and delectable cuisine.

Insider tip: When in Kyoto, make time to participate in a traditional tea ceremony. Your tea master will demonstrate how to prepare for and host a tea ceremony, and how to make a bowl of green tea in this centuries-old ritual, surrounded by the cobbled streets of the Higashiyama area, the Kodaiji Temple, the pagoda at Yasaka and the expansive Yasaka Shrine.

8: Slovenia

GPI score: 1.355/5

Slovenia hopped up two places into the top 10 this year, becoming the only newcomer on the list. The country nestles on the sunny side of the alps, bordering Adriatic Croatia, as well as Hungary, Austria and Italy. Forested hills, fairy-tale lakes and the lovely, leafy city of Ljubljana (considered Europe’s greenest capital) come together to create this tiny, charming nation.

Insider tip: Venture just outside of Ljubljana for a scenic drive to Lake Bled, a fantasy setting in real life. The Julian Alps soar in the near distance and of course there’s a medieval castle clinging to a cliff. Visit the small island on the lake where a pilgrimage church sits in picturesque isolation. Its steeple pierces the clear mountain air and inside there are remains of frescoes dating back to the 15th century.

7: Singapore

GPI score: 1.347/5

Singapore jumped one spot from eight to seven this year, having leaped 13 positions the year before. It’s the global number 2 in the Safety and Security domain and the second most peaceful nation across the Asia-Pacific region. Known for its thriving ex-pat community, high standards of living, and education (and of course as the location for the book and movie, Crazy Rich Asians,) this island is a blend of Chinese, Indian, Malay, British, and Arab cultures. The ‘Lion City’ has a strong food culture, public transport is excellent, the botanic gardens are UNESCO World Heritage–listed, and the climate is warm year-round.

Insider tip: Rent bikes to peddle your way around town. The city is so compact that it can be explored in a few hours. And don’t miss out on a drink on the terrace at Marina Bay Sands, with incredible views over the city.

6: Canada

GPI score: 1.347/5

While it holds its position in world peacefulness, Canada’s overall score has improved since last year. North America as a region had the highest freedom of life and standard of living satisfaction in the world. Prince Harry and Meghan chose this country to escape the public eye and its natives are famously friendly. The world’s second-largest and sixth-most peaceful country, Canada offers awe-inspiring landscapes, comforting cuisine, and a captivating mix of cultures.

Insider tip: If you find yourself in Nova Scotia, make your way to one of the acclaimed local wineries for a tasting of their award-winning wines and vistas over the Minas Basin. Then head off to Halls Harbour for a lobster lunch (lobsters are landed on a small community wharf and brought directly to the customers) and to experience the world’s highest tides that come and go every six hours.

5: Denmark

GPI score: 1.347/5

Denmark has been in peacefulness position five since 2017, achieving low levels of crime, combined with high levels of political stability and income equality. Terrorism impact has dropped while social trust soars. A nation once notorious for its violent Vikings, Denmark is now known one as one the most peaceful, happiest places on earth. Trust and community values are embedded deeply in Danish culture and the country’s concept of hygge has gained global renown. It promotes stepping away from the daily stress of the outside world to surround yourself with loved ones in a calming, familiar environment—slowing down and focusing on small joys.

Insider tip: Take a scenic drive to the coastal town of Rungsted to the bird sanctuary, where a walk with scattered cows and sheep leads to the simple hillside grave of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa and one of Denmark’s major literary figures.

4: Austria

GPI score: 1.291/5

A regular in the global peacefulness top five, Austria also triumphs in Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking, which in 2019 declared Vienna the world’s greatest city to live in for the tenth time. This culturally rich country is known as Europe’s classical music capital. With mountains to ski in the winter and hike in the summer, Austrians can live a ‘resort-style’ life all year round.

Insider tip: The castle where Richard the Lionhearted was held hostage during the Crusades towers over baroque Durnstein, one of Austria’s finest villages. Hike up to explore the ruins and the incredible view of the Danube River below.

3: Portugal

GPI score: 1.274/5

Hopping up two places, Portugal finds itself a place as a medalist this year in position three. 2019 was a successful year for this nation, with the World Travel Awards crowning the World’s Best Tourist Destination and UNICEF electing Portugal the fifth most family-friendly nation. Basking in 3000 hours of sunshine a year, Portugal has the oldest borders in Europe, a rich cultural and culinary heritage, and a deliciously slow pace of life. The Portuguese are a famously family-centric, open-minded population, and music and dance are a big part of their identity.  Almost every village has its own dance floor, or terreiro.

Insider tip: Board a traditional Portuguese Rabelo boat that for centuries transported people and goods along the Douro River. Make your way up the river, taking in sweeping views of its world-famous vineyards before you walk through the vineyards, explore a winery and finish the day with a tasting of the acclaimed local wines.

2: New Zealand

GPI score: 1.221/5

Number two in the world 2017 and number one in the Asia-Pacific region, NZ hasn’t dropped below world four in a decade. Of Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson declared, “New Zealand is not a small country but a large village”. A melting pot of Māori, Asian, Pacific Island and European traditions, Kiwis are a creative, open-minded and easy-going people. Besides low crime rates and high levels of population wellbeing and happiness, there’s no dangerous wildlife. The landscape is inspiring to say the least; ranging from mountains to caverns and bubbling springs to beaches.

Insider tip: Take the 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island. You’ll be forgiven if it looks like you’ve actually traveled thousands of miles to the Napa Valley, with its rolling hills and sweet microclimate. It also has gorgeous beaches, a laid-back and freespirited attitude, and dozens of excellent vineyards. Stop for an olive oil tasting at a family estate.

1: Iceland

GPI score: 1.072/5

Iceland has been the most peaceful country in the world since 2008! Violent crime is virtually non-existent and the same goes for class tension, while levels of trust, wellbeing and education are impressively high. This is a one of the world’s happiest, friendliest, cleanest and most environmentally-conscious countries. In a homeland filled with waterfalls, volcanic mountains and other natural wonders, Icelanders have a close connection with nature. Children grow up rescuing baby puffins who’ve lost their way in the town and ancient folklore raises generations filled with respect and awe of their surroundings.

Insider tip: Lace up your hiking boots and go to Þingvellir National Park, where a deep tectonic rift valley offers trails where you’re fully immersed in the tumbled wilderness that’s so unique to Iceland. Bonus point that this is also home to the world’s oldest parliament, dating 930 AD.