Portugal: One of the safest countries in the world

Lisbon: Even a glance at the news every day will reveal more outbreaks of violence, terrorism, civil unrest or increasing civil demonstrations, not always peaceful. Sadly, we now live in a world where people with strong opinions feel they have the right to express their views any way they wish, sometimes violently. Most people seek peace.

To begin with, peace can be defined as the absence of violence, conflict, and disturbance. The indicators used to measure peace in Southern Europe include crime rate, political stability, and conflict resolution. According to the Global Peace Index, the most peaceful countries in the Europe region are Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia, while Greece and Italy rank lower. These indicators highlight the importance of strong institutions, social cohesion, and effective governance in maintaining peace.

Our World is not a very peaceful place. I don’t need to list the conflicts going on but there are many. That’s not a very happy observation of the state of ‘World Peace’, but it’s realistic. There is an organisation known as the Global Peace Index, and they rank 163 countries in what they call a ‘Snapshot of the global state of peace’. In 2023 Portugal rates as the seventh most peaceful country in the World. Iceland is number 1, Denmark number 2. Ireland (South) is number 3, New Zealand number 4, Austria number 5 and Singapore number 6.

Just to see things in perspective, the United Kingdom is number 37, the USA is number 131. Only 13 countries rate as ‘Very High in the state of peace’. The United Kingdom is rated as ‘high in the state of peace’, and the USA is rated as low in the state of peace’. Do you wonder why so many Americans are moving to Portugal? Many Americans point at Donald Trump as their greatest fear for the future of their country, but that’s for Americans to decide in November. What concerns European nations, in particular, was when Trump said he would encourage Russia to ‘do whatever the hell they want’.

Some people question if the change of government caused by this month’s elections would change anything in terms of the peaceful nature of Portugal. I can’t see that happening, it’s the Portuguese people themselves that make Portugal such a peaceful and welcoming nation.

In terms of the most peaceful countries in Southern Europe, Portugal stands out as a particularly peaceful country. Portugal has a low crime rate, a reasonably stable political system, and a high level of social cohesion. Similarly, Spain has a strong institutional framework and a history of democratic stability. However, in the Global Peace Index Spain rates as number 32, a long way down from Portugal. Slovenia, on the other hand, has a high level of social trust and a strong sense of community. In comparison to other regions in Europe, Southern Europe ranks lower in terms of peace due to ongoing conflicts such as the Cyprus dispute and separatist movements in Catalonia and Basque Country.

While Southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain, and Italy, may not be as well-known for their peacefulness as their Nordic and Central European counterparts, they are still relatively safe and peaceful societies. These countries have relatively low crime rates and a strong sense of community, which contributes to their overall sense of security. Additionally, they have a rich cultural heritage and a thriving tourism industry, which helps to promote peace and understanding between different cultures. For example, Spain is known for its vibrant culture and beautiful landscapes, which attract millions of tourists each year. The country also has a relatively low crime rate, with a homicide rate of just 0.6 per 100,000 people. Portugal is also known for its peaceful society, with a homicide rate of just 0.9 per 100,000 people. These countries also have a strong sense of community, with close-knit families and a tradition of socializing with friends and neighbours. This helps to create a peaceful and harmonious society.

Southern Europe has made progress in maintaining peace and stability in recent years. The most peaceful countries in the region have strong institutions, social cohesion, and effective governance. However, there are still challenges to maintaining peace, including historical conflicts, such as the ongoing but recently peaceful conflicts in the Basque region of Spain. The Basque conflict, also known as the Spain–ETA conflict, was an armed and political conflict from 1959 to 2011 between Spain and the Basque National Liberation Movement, a group of social and political Basque organizations that sought independence from Spain and France. Although many people consider this ‘conflict’ to be only peaceful since 2011 it is still a smouldering fire, hopefully, it to stay that way. Tensions like this don’t seem to happen in Portugal.

The Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, are widely regarded as some of the most peaceful countries in Europe. These countries have low crime rates and high levels of social welfare, making them ideal places to live and work. The Nordic countries also place a strong emphasis on equality, democracy, and human rights, which has helped to create a peaceful and stable society. For example, Norway is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, with a homicide rate of just 0.5 per 100,000 people. Finland is also known for its low crime rates, with a homicide rate of 1.2 per 100,000 people. These countries also have high levels of social welfare, with universal healthcare, free education, and generous parental leave policies. This has helped to create a strong sense of social cohesion and equality, which contributes to their peacefulness. The problem the Nordic countries have is the weather. Great for winter sports enthusiasts, but if you want a great climate, Southern Europe is where to look.

The obvious attractions of World class beaches, golf, etc, are well known to all. Another less spoken-about attraction is a very high-quality private medical system. Foreign residents use the private health sector. Medical insurance is held by most foreign residents and its surprisingly low cost compared with northern Europe, and compared to North America the cost of health care as well as medications are a fraction of the cost. English is very widely spoken, and the opportunities for remote working are superb. The cost of living is low. All these factors make Portugal such a major attraction.

The reality is that many countries have superb beaches, great golf courses and plenty of sun.

The single factor that makes the difference is that Portugal is one of the most peaceful and safe countries in the World – and that’s ‘official’.