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What Is the Least Safe Country in the World?
Gallup Blog

What Is the Least Safe Country in the World?

What Is the Least Safe Country in the World?

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After tying with Venezuela for the least secure country in the world in 2017, Afghanistan earned the title outright in 2018.

The war-torn country's score of 38 on Gallup's Law and Order Index was by far the lowest out of all 142 countries surveyed last year -- which also went down as the deadliest year in recent history for Afghan civilians.

Countries/Areas With Highest Law and Order Index Scores
Law and Order Index
Singapore 97
Tajikistan 94
United Arab Emirates 93
Norway 93
Turkmenistan 92
Switzerland 92
Uzbekistan 92
Egypt 92
Finland 91
China 91
Denmark 90
Austria 90
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Countries/Areas With Lowest Law and Order Index Scores
Law and Order Index
Botswana 60
Mexico 60
Namibia 60
Uganda 60
Chad 59
South Africa 56
Liberia 53
Gabon 53
Venezuela 49
Afghanistan 38
Gallup World Poll, 2018

The Law and Order Index is a composite score based on people's reported confidence in their local police, their feelings of personal safety, and the incidence of theft and assault or mugging in the past year. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling secure. The index score for the world in 2018 was 81 out of a possible 100 -- unchanged from the previous year. Eighty-four countries posted scores lower than this average.

The countries scoring the best and the worst on the index were largely the same in 2018 as they were the previous year. Scores ranged from a high of 97 in Singapore, which tops the list nearly every year, to a low of 38 in Afghanistan.

For complete results for all 142 countries, read Gallup's 2019 Global Law and Order report.

Security in Afghanistan Hits New Low

After essentially tying with Venezuela in 2017 for the "least secure" country in the world with a score of 45 on the Law and Order Index, Afghanistan's score dropped to a new low last year.

The country's replacement of Venezuela at the bottom of the index occurred against the backdrop of what would go on to be the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan in a decade -- with nearly 4,000 deaths reported -- and while the Taliban and the U.S. talked possible peace that never came to fruition.

The percentages of Afghans who felt safe walking alone at night where they live (13%) and felt confident in their police (22%) represented new lows for the war-torn country -- and they also were the lowest on record across the entire world in 2018. The 13% of Afghans who felt safe walking alone at night ties previous record lows claimed by Venezuela in 2015 and 2016.

Line graph. Trend in Afghans’ feelings of safety walking alone at night where they live.

Afghans were also more likely to have been the victims of crime in 2018 than at any point in the past decade in the country. A record-high 50% of Afghans said they had property or money stolen in the past year, and a record-high 29% said they had been assaulted or mugged within the same period.

Most of the World Feels Safe, but Not Everyone

More than two in three adults worldwide said in 2018 said they felt safe walking alone at night where they live (69%), which is basically unchanged from the results the previous year. But not everyone worldwide feels this safe -- percentages worldwide range from a high of 94% in Singapore to a low of 13% in Afghanistan.

Countries/Areas Least Likely to Feel Safe in 2018
% Yes, feel safe
Liberia 40
Argentina 39
Dominican Republic 37
Gabon 35
Botswana 34
Brazil 34
South Africa 31
Venezuela 26
Afghanistan 13
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Except for Afghanistan, the countries in which residents were least likely to say they felt safe walking alone at night were exclusively a mix of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Nine of them were also at the bottom of the list in 2017.

In the most economically developed countries with strong rule of law, high majorities of residents said they felt safe walking alone at night where they live. This response was nearly universal in Singapore and topped 80% in many Western European countries.

Countries/Areas Most Likely to Feel Safe in 2018
% Yes, feel safe
Singapore 94
Norway 93
United Arab Emirates 93
Slovenia 90
Turkmenistan 90
Switzerland 89
Armenia 89
Finland 88
Tajikistan 88
Gallup World Poll, 2018

The U.S. is notably missing from this top list. The 72% of Americans who said they felt safe walking alone at night ranks the country about 46th on this measure and is unchanged from what Gallup observed in 2017.

Implications

The United Nations' most recent progress report on its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 shows the world has a lot of work to do to reach the goal of promoting "peaceful, just and inclusive societies." In fact, the U.N. says that in recent years, the world has not made any substantial advances toward "ending violence, promoting the rule of law, strengthening institutions at all levels, or increasing access to justice."

Based on the results from Gallup's latest global surveys on people's perceptions of their own security, it would appear that the world's adults largely agree with this assessment.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

Julie Ray is a writer and editor at Gallup.

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