04/12/2012 09:36 GMT

Terror Attacks '19 Times More Likely In Western Europe Than North America', Finds Global Terrorism Index

Those in Western Europe are 19 times more likely to to be killed in a terrorist attack than people living in North America, according to the inaugural global terrorism index.

The study, produced by the Australian-based Institute for Economics and Peace think tank, is the first index to order countries on the impact of terrorism.

It found that the number of terrorism incidents around the globe have increased nearly every year since 2001, while deaths have fallen.

Of the 158 countries ranked, only 31 have not experienced any terrorism attacks, according to the think tank.

terror attacks

Fire service helmets are stacked by a wall during a memorial service for British 9/11 Victims at St Paul's Catherdral in London

According to the data there were 982 terrorism incidents in 2002, which led to 3,823 deaths, and 4,564 terrorist incidents across the world in 2011, leading to 7,473 deaths. The study, which drew on the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database, found terror killings peaked in 2007 - the deadliest year in Iraq.

In Britain, aside from in the terror attacks in July 2005, terrorism is decreasing, with it coming 28th in the rankings in 2011.

Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace told The Huffington Post UK that terrorism incidents had "plateaued" since 2007 but warned he expected an increase next year due to Syria.

"If we look at the trend lines what we find is that the incidents in the last three years have pretty much plateaued. The number of deaths peaked in 2007. In 2007 there was this huge spike in deaths, which dropped again the following year," he said.

iraq terror

Terror incidents were at a high at the height of the Iraq war in 2007

He also said that they were surprised to find "poverty's probably not the main driver of terrorism".

"For us that was one of the more stunning outcomes. If you look at literature you see terrorism is linked to lack of opportunity and poverty but there wasn't much difference between countries in level of terrorism," he said.

Killelea said four factors tended to lead to terrorism; Political instability, group grievances, low social cohesion and lack of respect for human rights.