U.S. ranked in bottom half of latest Global Peace Index

APTOPIX Mideast Lebanon US_140070

A Lebanese army vehicle fires a TOW-II missile in the village of Taybeh, near Baalbek, eastern Lebanon, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The Lebanese army has conducted a live-fire demonstration of advanced missiles supplied by the United States to help combat Islamic extremists along the country’s volatile border with Syria. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – The nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace released its annual report on the world’s most peaceful countries. Iceland took the top spot, while the United States, though higher than last year, still sits in the bottom half of the rankings

The institute ranks 162 countries around the globe on factors ranging from levels of violent crime, intensity of internal conflict and political instability.

Four of the top “risers” were African countries: Guinea-Bissau improved 24 spots in the ranking, the largest jump of any country from 2014. The Ivory Coast, Egypt, Tajikistan and Benin round out the top five risers. War-torn Libya and Ukraine have dropped the most in the 2015 rankings.

The report ranked the U.S. No. 94, up from 101st in 2014. The institute credits President Barack Obama’s efforts to reduce U.S. military involvement in foreign conflicts for its higher score.

“The score for external conflicts fought improved, as President Barack Obama sought to reduce U.S. military involvement abroad, trying to wind down the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the report said. “The last U.S. combat troops left Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and the remaining troops transitioned to a training and support role. The Obama administration has also worked hard to strike a nuclear disarmament deal with Iran, pushing back the deadline for talks to June 2015 to give negotiators more time.”

Meanwhile, America’s friendly neighbor to the north continues to earn its moniker. Canada, despite having its score dragged down by a domestic terror attack in October, was ranked seventh overall.

European countries claimed six of the top 10 spots in the rankings, while nine of the 10 countries in the bottom 10 reside in Africa or the Middle East. North Korea also checked into the bottom 10 – at No. 153. The conflict between Ukraine and Russia placed the two countries at Nos. 150 and 152, respectively.

For the complete report, go here: Global Peace Index 2015

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