Skip to Content

13 Safest Countries to Live in Case of Nuclear War

When we hear anything about nuclear weapons or nuclear war, it’s not surprising that many of us shiver deep down inside. The thought of a nuclear war breaking out can be devastating to both the population and the environment.

In this list, I’ve compiled several countries that many might see as safe havens to escape the dangers of a nuclear war. There are many reasons these countries are considered safe, and why many would immigrate to these countries to flee from their own nuclear-powered country.

1. Switzerland

The European country of Switzerland is known for being one of the most neutral countries in the world.

But before I get into why Switzerland will be a safe haven during a nuclear war, and before I can continue listing all the other countries, I should make one important note: no country guarantees a hundred percent safety in a nuclear war.

What I mean by this is that although I’ll list off the countries and their reasons as to why they are considered safe from a nuclear war, they are still vulnerable to any strikes enacted by those countries. We cannot fully predict the outcomes of nuclear war, and some areas may become unintentionally smothered by a nuclear strike, especially if they are geographically close to a more vulnerable country. Never assume any one country is completely safe from these serious conflicts.

With this out of the way, let’s begin listing off countries that are presumed safe during a nuclear war, beginning with Switzerland.

Swiss History is Key

Throughout Switzerland’s history, the country has consistently avoided major conflicts in world history. Major conflicts, including both world wars, have not swayed Switzerland into a global conflict.

Switzerland remains fiercely neutral, meaning that it’s heavily concrete on remaining neutral and refraining from involvement in any future conflicts to come. This includes a nuclear conflict, one with which many of today’s nations are concerned because of recent events and the world’s nuclear history. Both the United States and Russia (formerly known as the Soviet Union), for example, have had plenty of tensions.

Switzerland sits centered between France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Germany and Italy both deploy nuclear weapons in their air force bases, and Switzerland signed a peace treaty with France. In addition, it is surrounded by both the Alps and the Jura mountains. These are two significant mountain ranges that not only help to impede invasion but impressively protect the Swiss people from nuclear aftermath, such as the fallout.

If nuclear war does break out, Switzerland would be a safe place to find refuge, not to mention the fact that Switzerland is within close proximity to France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and that this location is a nuclear deterrent in and of itself. If these countries were to strike Switzerland or each other, it would cause a backlash in self-infliction and breaking neutrality agreements and laws, and if any of these countries were to be attacked by another outside country, then those countries welding nuclear weapons would come to the defense.

Related The 12 Safest Places to Live in the World in a Nuclear War.

2. Canada

The next country that would be safe during a nuclear war is Canada in North America.

With the Canadians, it is no surprise that initiating a nuclear strike would automatically call the United States into action because they are neighbors, allies, and defense partners to Canada. Nobody wants to mess with either country.

One thing most people know about the United States is that the country harbors plenty of nuclear arsenals to combat those who choose to use nuclear arsenals themselves (about 5,550 nuclear devices), and no one should agitate a neighboring country or ally to the U.S., or severe backlash is consequential.

A family standing in a field of flowers with two kids holding Canadian flags

Aside from this, Canada is a wide and rural area with its population spread out thin. There seems to be no good location that would warrant a nuclear strike against Canada due to its lack of important government facilities within proximity of each other, the sparse and thin population throughout the country, and the likelihood of aggravating the United States as its neighboring country.

3. Iceland

Shifting back to Europe, the country of Iceland is in a remote location next door to Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean.

This country should be a no-brainer as one of the safest countries to live in or immigrate to if a nuclear war breaks out.

It, too, lacks vital resources and information that could warrant a nuclear strike, and the population size continues to be small enough that any nuclear weapons used on this country would inflict minimal damage to both the population and the environment. Plus, Iceland is not considered a nuclear threat.

Lastly, other than the fact that striking Iceland with nuclear missiles is far from a strategic decision, the isolated location of Iceland makes nuclear missiles difficult to bypass security and will easily be detected long before Iceland, which is basically a large island, is even in range. In other words, because of Iceland’s distance from other countries and the large body of water covering all sides, no aggressive nuclear missiles would survive to their destination without being deterred by anti-missile systems and/or related deterrents.

Related Can Earth Recover After Nuclear War? (How Long It Takes).

4. Greenland

Much like Iceland, Greenland is in the same boat as being isolated from the rest of the world and having no significant value if attacked by nuclear arsenals.

Unlike Iceland, it is a much larger country, and it is included in the Kingdom of Denmark.

Despite being a considerably large country, most of the land is rural, meaning that many hills, fields, and trees are there with minimal population density throughout. Again, no significant governmental structure or facilities are close to one another, nor would their presence warrant an immediate nuclear strike.

Relative to the geographical size of the country, the population size is extremely small, reaching around a population size of 56,000 residents. With this extremely low ratio of land size to population, it is certainly a place that no major nuclear-powered nation would waste resources on during a nuclear war.

5. Norway

As part of the Scandinavian region of Europe alongside Denmark, Norway is another safe place to take refuge when nuclear powers are welded.

Though not as isolated as both Greenland and Iceland, it is nevertheless a country that remains isolated through both neutrality and its underpopulated state.

Norwegian flag against waterfall in Norway Scandinavia

It may also appear that although Norway is connected to the rest of the European countries, it is perhaps one of the most north-western countries attached to the majority of Europe. Despite featuring a lengthy geographical-sized area, it is far from being a vital target in nuclear strikes.

Again, the lack of both population density and governmental facilities makes Norway an undesirable country to attack if nuclear war broke out. Lastly, it poses no severe nuclear threats to the already nuclear-powered nations, especially as it remains generally neutral.

6. Nepal

Moving on to the Asian regions, Nepal is another country that is considered safe if a nuclear war were to ever break out.

Nestled between India and China, Nepal is in an unlikely, but optimal position to avoid nuclear strikes. Much like Switzerland, Nepal is sitting next to a major nuclear-deployed nation, except instead of neighboring Italy and Germany like Switzerland, Nepal neighbors China.

India has nuclear capabilities in their own right, but China will be the primary country in nuclear dominance in that region. Due to its location, if China wanted to attack India or even Nepal, it may inadvertently cause self-infliction, or disrupt a potential neutrality or peace agreement between China and Nepal.

India has nuclear capabilities in their own right, but China will be the primary country in nuclear dominance in that region. Due to its location, if China wanted to attack India or even Nepal, it may inadvertently cause self-infliction, or disrupt a potential neutrality or peace agreement between China and Nepal.

Overall, Nepal can be seen as the “Switzerland” of Asia due to its location, the surrounding mountain ranges acting as radiation shields, the lack of population, and the country’s neutrality.

Related The 16 Safest US Cities From Nuclear Attack.

7. Republic of the Marshall Islands

Located just northeast of the coral sea, the Marshall Islands is perhaps one of the best countries to live or move to during a nuclear war breakout.

Unlike the countries I have addressed so far, the Marshall Islands is not a major singular geographical land but, instead, a cluster of smaller islands. From these island clusters, any nuclear strikes upon it would inflict minimal damage and would result in wasted resources, so it’s the last place any country would think to strike.

Not only that, but there are no signs of any nuclear importance attached to the Marshall Islands, and therefore, they pose no threat.

8. Sri Lanka

Much like the Marshall Islands, Sri Lanka has no major nuclear involvement and therefore is not seen as a threat.

A garland of Sri Lanka national flags

Much like Greenland and Iceland, Sri Lanka is separated from the rest of the Asian region as its own isolated country. Though the separation from Sri Lanka to the southern part of India isn’t much, it nevertheless is seen as a country not to waste nuclear strikes on.

Because of these reasons, Sri Lanka is a country many should immigrate to during a nuclear war.

9. Madagascar

Shifting over to an African country, Madagascar features many of the same benefits that Greenland, Iceland, and Sri Lanka have.

Just located on the southeastern side of Africa, Madagascar is separated from the country by the Mozambique Channel and is one of the countries many consider safe from any nuclear strikes. Again, because of its isolated and separated country, Madagascar has no strategic value in a nuclear war.

Due to its poor state and status as a third-world country, no nuclear-powered nation would bother attacking this country. Its undesirability means there are no significant resources that would be of use to other major countries.

10. Australia

Australia is one country that would most likely avoid any nuclear conflicts.

Being on the opposite end of Greenland but part of the continent of Oceania, Australia is one of the most southern countries in the world, and because of its extreme location, committing to nuclear strikes would waste both time and resources. As with Greenland, Australia would be an unnecessary detour for committed nuclear strikes.

As we know about Australia or hear rumors about Australia, the environment itself is dangerous in most parts of the country. That considered, most countries wouldn’t bother attacking a country that already faces its own environmental challenges, such as the effects of climate change and the devastation of wildlife. Still, it remains a safe haven during a nuclear war and a spot many would find refuge because of the low risk of attack.

Overall, Australia’s remote and awkward location makes it a natural deterrent to the effects of a nuclear war.

Related The 12 Safest US States From Nuclear Attacks.

11. South Africa

As the most southern part of Africa, South Africa, and arguably the entirety of Africa, is not worth expending nuclear strikes on.

Much like Madagascar, South Africa is arguably a third-world country suffering from its own financial and health troubles and poor conditions. Using nuclear strikes on an already poor country would not be optimal, and third-world countries remain at the bottom of the list of possible countries to strike with nuclear weapons. Because of this, South Africa is safe from nuclear war. However, it does not remain shielded from the lasting effects of the current civil war currently happening in much of the remaining African continent.

Regardless, South Africa remains the best and safest country in Africa from the rest of Africa’s struggles and from the threat of a possible nuclear war.

12. The Vatican City

Considered one of the smallest countries in the world, the Vatican is embedded within Rome, the capital city of Italy.

I could consider Italy entirely in this case. However, since the Vatican is considered an official separate country from Italy, I will address it as such. And, despite the fact that Vatican City is an entirely separate country from Italy, it is protected by the nuclear defense that Italy has deployed.

Tiber and St Peter Basilica in the Vatican

With just under a population size of 1,000 residents, most of whom aren’t native residents, and because of its embedded location in Italy, this country benefits from the same situation as Switzerland and Nepal benefit from.

If an enemy chooses to attack Italy, the risk of hitting the Vatican is slim since that no country wants to unnecessarily self-inflict itself. Also, when and if a country chooses to strike Italy with nuclear weapons, they must be precise in not hitting the Vatican because the Italian Armed Forces will immediately turn to the Vatican’s defense, despite not having any formal military agreement with this sovereign state.

Related Can the US Shoot Down a Nuke From Russia? | What to Know.

13. Israel

Lastly, we have Israel. As the world’s largest religious country, Israel is, by far, one of the safest countries in the world, regardless of nuclear tensions.

Israel’s religious history is one nearly all should be familiar with. Found in the Hebrew Bible, we know that Israel has played a significant role in the development of some of the most prominent religions and continues to do so today.

Nuclear striking this area would cause much contention due to its religious importance, and perhaps many other nations would back it up in defense of this country. This may or may not happen, but regarding the preservation of an important part of the world’s religious history, it may be natural for other countries to quickly and swiftly back up Israel if any nuclear threats occur against it as a way to defend their religious beliefs.

Not only this, but Israel has built and harbored a fleet of nuclear weapons to defend itself in the event of a war, but it’s unlikely that Israel will strike first.

Final Thoughts

Now that I have listed our countries that are the safest during a nuclear war outbreak, please note that not every country will be truly safe. Regardless of what I said here, always keep in mind that nuclear welding nations, as well as the nations that are deemed safe havens in the event of a nuclear war, are constantly evolving. Many external factors may change how countries react to conflicts.

Overall, these are generally some of the safest countries to take refuge in and to avoid any nuclear conflicts. Always be prepared for emergencies to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, keeping these countries in mind as you narrow down the best country to flee to if another world war were to strike.

If you want to learn more about the safest areas to live in, check out my article called World Nuclear Target Map: Most Safe and Unsafe Areas. Below is a map I created from that article, which will give you a general idea of the safest and most unsafe areas.

World Nuclear Target Map Survival Freedom

If you live in the United States, you may also want to read US Nuclear Target Map: Most Safe and Unsafe Areas.