May 20, 2008

Country more peaceful than the US

Mozambique is the 50th most peaceful country in the world according to a new edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) published by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. This is an improvement of two places over the 2007 findings. The survey, which looked at 140 countries, analysed 24 internal and external indicators.

Mozambique was found to be the fourth most peaceful country in Africa, only bettered by Ghana, Madagascar and Botswana. South Africa came 18th and Zimbabwe trailed at 24th. Somalia was found to be the most violent place on the continent. (However, only 35 out of 53 African countries are included in the index - excluded are several island states that might have beaten Mozambique, such as Mauritius, Cape Verde and the Seychelles).

Iceland was ranked as the most peaceful country in the world, followed by Denmark, Norway and New Zealand. Major improvements in performance by Angola, Indonesia and India were noted. Most countries were found to be performing better this year than last year against the key indicators.

According to Steve Killelea, founder of the Global Peace Index, "the world appears to be a marginally more peaceful place this year. This is encouraging, but it takes small steps by individual countries for the world to make greater strides on the road to peace".

Britain was only marginally more peaceful than Mozambique, pipping it for the 49th place. Meanwhile the United States is found way down the list at number 97. Russia does much worse, coming in at 131. The world's least peaceful country is Iraq, closely followed by Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Israel and Chad.

The indicators used to assess the level of peace in a country include the size of the armed forces and the scale of military expenditures, imports and exports of weaponry, the level of violent crime, the number of citizens in prison, relations with neighbouring countries, political stability and the level of respect for human rights. The indicators are far from arbitrary: they were selected by an international panel of academics, business people, philanthropists and peace institutions. The work of collating and calculating the GPI is done by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Several Nobel Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Joseph Stiglitz, have endorsed the index. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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