KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been ranked the most peaceful country in Southeast Asia, the fourth safest in the Asia Pacific behind New Zealand, Japan and Australia, and the 19th safest and peaceful out of 153 countries in the world.
This ranking by the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2011 is the first time that Malaysia has been placed that high since 2007, being one of the six non-European nations making the top 20 list.
The other five were Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, Qatar and Australia.
The findings of the fifth edition of the survey by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace were announced at the end of May.
In 2007, Malaysia was ranked 37th and fell to 38th place in 2008, and improved for the next three years by moving from 26th in 2009 to 22nd last year. It moved up to 19th this year.
The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of respected sources, which combined internal and external factors ranging from national level of military expenditure to its relations with neighbouring countries and the level of respect for human rights.
These indicators were selected by an international panel of academics, business people, philanthropists and members of peace institutions from March 15 last year to the same date this year.
The research said Malaysia supplanted Singapore as the highest ranked last year for a Southeast Asian nation.
Singapore ranked second in the region and 24th overall, followed by Vietnam (30th overall), Laos (32nd overall), Indonesia (68th overall), Thailand (107th overall), Myanmar (133rd overall) and the Philippines (136th overall).
"Malaysia's growing peacefulness reflected a rise in political stability and improving relations with neighbouring countries, notably Singapore and China," it said.
The report said the top 10 placements were Iceland as the country most at peace, followed by New Zealand, Japan (third), Denmark (fourth), Czech Republic (fifth), Austria (sixth), Finland (seventh), Canada (eighth), Norway (ninth) and Slovenia (tenth). -- Bernama