PORTLAND — While U.S. military forces continue to be engaged in conflicts abroad, a survey of the home front by an international think tank finds that U.S. states have become more peaceful since 1995.

In a report released today, the Institute for Economics and Peace says Maine is the most peaceful state, while Louisiana is the least peaceful.

The Institute for Economics and Peace says key factors driving an increase in peacefulness are decreases in homicides and violent crimes. It says that reductions in crime pay dividends, reducing costs to society and also spurring economic activity and job creation.

The Australia-based organization defines peace as an absence of violence. The top three states are Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Joining Louisiana at the bottom are Nevada and Tennessee.