What are the safest countries to travel to in 2024? A new report from International SOS—a medical and travel security risk services company—offers invaluable insights for travelers.
International SOS recently released its annual Risk Map 2024, which predicts the safest countries in the world, the riskiest ones and the biggest issues that travelers will face in the year ahead. In an age where travel uncertainties abound, from global security to geopolitical tensions, knowing the safest places to visit is more crucial than ever.
International SOS’s Risk Map looks at several areas of risk, including security risks, medical risks and mental health risks. This year, International SOS also added climate-related risks, due to increasing global temperatures. Countries are broken down into five levels of risk, ranging from insignificant to extreme, depending on the category.
The Safest Countries In the World
So what are the safest places to travel to in 2024? International SOS’s security ratings are based on a variety of factors, including political violence, social unrest, as well as violent and petty crime. Other factors include transportation infrastructure, industrial relations, the effectiveness of security and emergency services and susceptibility to natural disasters.
The Risk Map reveals that Scandinavian countries—renowned for their stability and effective governance—continue to be some of the safest travel destinations. According to International SOS, Iceland tops the list as the world’s safest place to visit. The country takes the top spot for a number of reasons, including low rates of violent crime, a lack of political violence and low levels of violence against foreigners.
Coming in second on the list is Luxembourg, which has minimal security threats to travelers. Norway, Switzerland and Denmark round out the list of the five safest countries. The safety of these top countries is attributed to their stable political climates, robust law enforcement and low rates of crime and violence.
Other countries with insignificant levels of security risk include Slovenia, Finland and Greenland.
For travel security, the U.S. is listed as low risk—but not the lowest. It’s the second out of five categories.
In some regions, the risk rating has decreased. Most notably, International SOS’s risk ratings for El Salvador and parts of Nepal have been lowered following sustained downward trends across a number of factors.
The stability of the safest countries starkly contrasts with the situation in the highest risk countries, which are plagued by political unrest and minimal government control. According to International SOS, the riskiest country in the world is South Sudan, followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia.
Having access to healthcare while traveling is a paramount concern—and according to International SOS, 60% of travelers say that the potential of facing a medical emergency during a trip is the primary driver to purchase travel insurance. International SOS bases the rankings on a range of location-specific factors.
In terms of medical safety, International SOS recognizes nations like the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and most countries in Europe and the United Kingdom for their low risks, largely due to advanced medical infrastructure and services.
According to International SOS, some of the highest medical risk countries include North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, just to name a few.
The addition of climate change considerations in the Risk Map underscores the growing importance of environmental factors in travel planning. The rankings are based on data from the INFORM Climate Change Risk Index.
“The extreme heat events this year, with the first ever named heatwave hitting Europe, may become commonplace. In addition to the physical impacts of extreme heat, there can be significant negative effects on mental health,” Dr. Irene Lai, global medical director at International SOS, said in a statement.
According to International SOS, some of the nations least likely to have climate risks include Scandinavian countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark), plus places like Kazakhstan, the UAE and New Zealand.
For climate change, International SOS lists the U.S. as low risk—the second out of five categories.
When it comes to the highest levels of climate risk, many countries across the middle of Africa rank very high, according to International SOS, including Mali, Chad, Ethiopia and Mozambique. Elsewhere, countries likely to have high risks of the impacts of climate change include the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and India.
Mental Health Risks
International SOS also ranks countries by mental health risks, looking at the share of the population with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia. These estimates use data compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to International SOS, Vietnam is listed as a country least likely to have mental health risks.
International SOS lists the U.S. on the higher side for mental health issues—it’s included in the fourth highest level of risk out of five categories.
According to International SOS, some of the highest risk countries for mental health issues include Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Iran.
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