Is anywhere safe anymore?

After the tragic events that took place last week in Barcelona, Cambrils and Turku, that surely must be a question that more and more people are asking themselves nowadays. We live in an increasingly dangerous world it would appear but according to academics such as Stephen Pinker in his 2011 bestseller ‘The Better Angels of our Nature’ the statistics would suggest otherwise. Indeed, if you look at the accompanying graphic to this week’s blog you’ll quickly see that statistical trend in more recent times, starting in 1940 is towards huge decreases in global casualties’ due to war, civil insurrection, terrorism etc.

So, with that comforting thought in mind, where, exactly are the safest places in the world? Well, according to the Global Peace Index for 2017 which measures such things, that place is Iceland which in a sense is hardly surprising when you consider that the population of Iceland (which, incidentally, is about 50% larger than the Republic of Ireland — 39,682 square miles versus our 27,133) is only 332,000!

Colder countries also tend to be much less prone to violence than warmer ones (the same is true within countries as well where crime statistics in places like the USA soar during the hot, steamy days of summertime). So here we all were thinking that Iceland’s new popularity was due primarily to its barren landscapes and thermal springs when all along it was since people know they are unlikely to get mugged there! Continuing with the sparsely-populated, off the beaten track theme, New Zealand comes in at second place, just ahead of Portugal which kind of demolishes that theory about hot versus cold climates!

Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovenia appear in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places respectively strongly suggesting that Europe has cornered the global market on civilised behaviour whilst those, nice apologetic Canadians occupy the spot at number 8. Bringing up the rear in 9th place is Switzerland — despite having one of the world’s highest level of gun ownership and good old Ireland (yes, I know you were asking yourself that question) just about squeezes into 10th place along with another country on the far side of the globe noted for its mild-mannered behaviour nowadays — Japan.

So, in case your destination country has not yet been mentioned, here is a short list of some other destinations most popular with Irish travellers:

Spain (23), Italy (38), UK (41), France (51), Cyprus (64), Dubai (65), Greece (73), Morocco (75), Cuba (88), Jamaica (92), USA (114), China (116), Thailand (120), South Africa (123), India (137), Mexico (142).

It doesn’t necessarily mean that any of the countries listed above with high values should be avoided but it does help to put certain things into perspective when destinations like Dubai which is in the Middle East, scores almost twice as well as that bastion of democracy, the United States! The fact of the matter is that no matter where in the world you travel to, you should always exercise caution as to your personal safety as there are opportunists everywhere and most crime that is visited upon tourists abroad tends to fall into the category of low-level stuff like pickpockets, scams etc.

With everyone nowadays in possession of a smart phone, a great app worth downloading is Travelwise which can be downloaded from the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android phones.

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