Syria air strikes
Syria and Yemen are among the least peaceful countries, according to the 2016 Global Peace Index Omar Haj Kadour/ AFP

The world has become a more violent place than what it was a decade ago. Global peace has taken a backseat according to the 2016 Global Peace Index. The report claims that the gap between the most peaceful countries and the least was "widening" as terrorism has hit an all-time high.

The global report states that battle deaths from conflicts are at a 25-year high, while the number of refugees and those displaced from their countries are at a 60-year high. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6tn (£9.3tn) in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, which is equivalent to approximately 11 times that of global foreign direct investments.

The index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed that there was an 80% rise in deaths from terrorism in 2015, compared to 2014. Only 69 countries did not record a terrorist incident in the past year. The number of countries that suffered more than 500 deaths from terrorist acts more than doubled to 11 from five – a year ago. Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Poland, Burundi, Kazakhstan and Brazil were among the countries with deteriorating peace.

However, 81 countries improved on the peace index, while the condition deteriorated in 71 countries, which were mainly attributed to developments in the Middle East and Africa (Mena) – already the least peaceful region in the world. Yemen, Libya and Bahrain in Mena were among the five countries which recorded the biggest decline in peace.

Moreover, the past decade was the worst so far in terms of peace improvement, with the average country score deteriorating by 2.44%. "Although it is too early to state whether the decrease in peacefulness represents a reversal of the 'long peace' that started at the end of World War II, there are a number of worrying signs that suggest conflict could escalate," the report warned, noting that terrorism has "grown steadily" over the past decade.

The top 10 peaceful countries are as follows:

Annual terrorism-linked incidents almost tripled in number since 2011 and the number of deaths has gone beyond 30,000, the report added. Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria are the countries that reported a majority of terrorist activity, accounting for 78% of deaths due to terrorism in 2014. "However, there are signs that terrorism is becoming more common across the globe, with almost every region having an increase in its terrorism impact score from 2008 to 2016."

Conflicts in Syria and Yemen also drove the number of battle deaths to a 25-year high – most of which were in Syria. The figure is likely to increase when data from 2015 becomes available.