New Zealand 'world's most peaceful nation'
New Zealand has topped the list of the world's most peaceful nation, according to an Australian think tank.
The Institute for Economics and Peace list was created after the start of the global recession, finding the financial meltdown was dragging the world toward political instability and conflict.
Many of the indicators which it used to measure peacefulness – such as a nation's homicide rate or its level of military expenditure – had deteriorated as the world economy tanked.
The institute laid out its key findings ahead of the publication of its annual "Global Peace Index," a report prepared in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report measured nations according to 24 criteria such as the potential for terror attacks, the level of violent crime, or the number of conflicts it is fighting. The criteria were then weighted and tabulated to rank 144 countries.
The rankings have changed little since the list was first published in 2007.
But this year, New Zealand overtook Iceland's place as the world's most peaceful country.
The tiny North Atlantic nation tumbled to fourth after violent demonstrations followed the spectacular implosion of its debt-fuelled economy.
Scandinavian and Western European countries still clustered near the top, and violence-racked countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia rounded out the bottom.
The United States rose six ranks, to a still-modest 83rd place, something the survey attributed to a decreasing likelihood of terror attacks.
Those behind the survey had said in the past that US standing was dragged down by the large number of people in its jails, its relatively high levels of violent crime, and its multibillion dollar defence budget.
Iraq maintained its position at dead last.
The institute isn't the first to warn of the knock-on effects of the dire economy.
Last week London-based Amnesty International said the aftermath of the credit crunch was putting pressure on human rights across the world.