Survey: Japan No. 3 most-peaceful nation; Iraq worst

LONDON (Kyodo) New Zealand retained the position of the world’s most peaceful nation in 2010, followed by Iceland, which ranked second, and Japan, which climbed four notches from a year earlier to third, according to an international report.

Iraq — for the fourth year in a row — was the worst among 149 countries in the annual Global Peace Index, a survey conducted by the British think tank Institute for Economics and Peace and the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research institute affiliated with the Economist magazine.

The index tries to measure the relative position of nations’ peacefulness by converting into numbers 23 indicators, such as conflicts with foreign countries, numbers of murder cases, risks of terrorism, the level of respect for human rights and military expenditures.

For 2010, Austria came in fourth and Norway fifth. Eight out of the 10 most peaceful nations were in Europe, mainly Northern Europe.

Canada was the most peaceful state among other major developed countries at 14th, Germany was 16th and the United States 85th.