Which is the most peaceful state in America? Look no further than the Pine Tree State, which takes the title -- but not by force, of course -- for the 11th straight year.
Maine remains America's most peaceful state, with New England neighbors Vermont and New Hampshire close behind, according to the 2012 U.S. Peace Index.
The Index also shows the nation, as a whole, is more peaceful than at any time in the last 20 years, according to the nonpartisan Institute for Economics and Peace, which produces the annual report.
"The last 20 years have seen a substantial and sustained reduction in direct violence in the United States," the 2012 U.S. Peace Index report states. For example, homicide and violent-crime rates have decreased as much as 50% since 1991, according to the report.
Along with those factors, the Index also considered a state's police employees, incarceration rate, and availability of small arms, in assessing which states were the most peaceful.
According to the Index, the 10 most peaceful states in America are:
3. New Hampshire
6. North Dakota
9. Rhode Island
The 2012 U.S. Peace Index reinforces some findings from 2011: More peaceful states generally provide better basic services, along with economic and educational opportunities, the report found.
"Even social capital -- like volunteerism, civic engagement, trust, and group membership -- is higher in more peaceful states," the Institute's executive chairman said in a statement.
Along with the most peaceful states in America, the 2012 U.S. Peace Index also identified the most peaceful metropolitan areas. Cambridge, Mass., is No. 1, followed by Edison-New Brunswick, N.J., and Seattle.
- Survey: Maine ranked 'most peaceful' state; Louisiana last (USA Today)
- 2012 United States Peace Index (Institute for Economics and Peace)
- Is Your State Among America's Most Corrupt? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Top 5 States with the Most Home Foreclosures (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)