The 19 Most Dangerous Cities In Brazil in 2024

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

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From the biodiversity of its Amazon Rainforest and far-spanning coastline to its five centuries of colonial history, Brazil has become one of the world’s favorite travel destinations, hosting, on average, more than 6 million tourists every year.

But beyond its beautiful, untouched landscapes and abundant cultural attractions, Brazil has struggled with high crime rates and political strife that has put it among some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

However, like any other country, Brazil’s criminal activity is more abundant in some areas than others. As the 5th largest country in the world by land area, it is easy to avoid this criminal activity once you know where it is concentrated.

For this reason, I have created this list of the 19 most dangerous cities in Brazil so that you can safely plan your South American vacation by practicing a higher degree of caution in these areas or avoiding them altogether.

For accuracy, this list was prepared using Numbeo’s up-to-date crime index levels, which take into account crime levels of specific violent and non-violent crimes, their severity, and the perception of crime in the city from first-hand accounts.

Statista, the World Population Review, and various international and local news outlets have also been used to confirm overall danger levels and collect current statistical data.

The 19 Most Dangerous Cities In Brazil

1. Feira de Santana

Crime Index: 77.72

The-Colonial-Old-Church-At-Bahia-Brazil

With a total crime index of 77.72, Feira de Santana is not only the most dangerous city in Brazil but also the 9th most dangerous city in the world.

Despite boasting many historical buildings and an airport, Feira de Santana does not experience a high volume of tourism. This is in large part due to the extremely high crime levels that have plagued the city in recent years.

Instead, the city serves as the primary commercial hub of the Bahia province, creating a high drug trafficking concentration in the area.

As a result, both violent and non-violent crimes are on the rise, with Feira de Santana ranking 4th in the country for the highest homicide rates, recording 50 incidents per 100,000 people in 2022. When translated to the city’s over 600,000 population, this means Feira de Santana experiences approximately 300 murders each year.

Unfortunately, murder is not the only crime you have to worry about in the city. Assault, armed robbery, muggings, drug trafficking, and car theft are also all common in Feira de Santana.

2. Mossoro

A-Blue-And-White-City-Buliding-In-Mossoro

Numbeo doesn’t have enough data to provide an accurate Crime Index for Mossoro. However, considering it possesses the highest murder rate per capita in the country, I can only assume this is because most people wisely choose to avoid this crime hotbed, awarding Mossoro the 2nd place on this list of the most dangerous cities in Brazil.

In 2022, Mossoro saw a total of 167 murders throughout the year. This means the city’s total homicide rate averages about 63.21 murders per 100,000 people when translated to Mossoro’s 264,181 population.

Not only is this the highest homicide rate in Brazil, but it is also the 11th-highest murder rate in the world and only the 2nd-highest for cities outside of Mexico. Other violent and non-violent forms of crime are also common in Mossoro, including pickpocketing, assault, and gang violence.

Fortunately, the city does not offer much in terms of tourist draws, and visitors won’t miss out by skipping over this murder capital of the country. However, a high degree of caution is advised if you absolutely must visit.

3. Rio de Janeiro

Crime Index: 77.44

An-Aerial-View-Of-The-Christ-And-Botafogo-Bay

Rio de Janeiro is the face of Brazilian tourism, hosting more than 2 million foreign tourists every year. However, with a total Crime Index of 77.44, the city is also the 3rd most dangerous city in the country.

With that said, Rio de Janeiro’s homicide rate is much lower than other cities featured on this list, with about 27 murders recorded per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021. Still, with a population of 6.748 million people, this amounts to approximately 1,821 murders committed each year.

And homicide isn’t the only crime that runs rampant in the city. Robbery, kidnapping, armed robbery, assault, and drug trafficking are also common in Rio de Janeiro, along with political corruption among elected officials and law enforcement.

Of course, Rio remains one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and continues to welcome flocks of international tourists each year. While it is the 3rd most dangerous city in Brazil, Rio’s high crime levels can largely be avoided by staying within the main tourist areas of South Zone, Barra da Tijuca, Centro, and Recreio dos Bandeirantes.

4. Maceio

Crime Index: 76.92

Pajucara-Beach-In-Maceio

Located in northeastern Brazil, Maceio is the capital city of the Alagoas state and is the fourth most dangerous city in the country, with a total crime index of 76.92.

The leading reason for the city’s rough reputation is Maceio’s considerably high murder rates, with approximately 39.45 homicides committed per 100,000 people each year. While this number is a massive improvement since the city’s peak of 110 murders per 100,000 people committed in 2011, Maceio still ranks 9th in the country when it comes to murder rate.

Additionally, homicide is not the only crime for concern in Maceio, and visitors to the city need to be wary of several violent and non-violent crimes common in the area, including assault, pickpocketing, and muggings, which are largely driven by the area’s high poverty levels, organized crime, and corrupt law enforcement.

5. Salvador

Crime Index: 76.78

A-Night-View-Of-Salvador-City-Bahia

Founded in 1549, Salvador is one of the oldest cities in Brazil and even served as the country’s first capital from the time of its founding until 1763. Since then, the city has become famous as the capital of the Bahia State for its music, cuisine, and architecture, which, combined with its nearly five centuries of history, have made it the second most touristed city in the country.

Despite its popularity as a travel destination, Salvador is the 5th most dangerous city in Brazil, with a total Crime Index of 76.78 and the second-highest homicide rate in the country, with approximately 56.68 murders per 100,000 people committed in 2022. Considering the city has an approximate population of 2.7 million inhabitants, this amounts to about 1,530 murders a year.

Additional crimes common within the city include pickpocketing, assault, muggings, and robberies. So, while Salvador offers plenty in terms of tourist attractions, it is advised to avoid the city altogether, or at the very least take extra precautions while visiting.

6. Natal

Crime Index:76.64

Natal-Beach-With-Navarro-Bridge

With a Crime Index of 76.64, Natal is the 6th most dangerous city in Brazil, along with the 6th highest homicide rate in the country, with 45.06 murders committed per 100,000 people in 2022.

However, it is important to note that the majority of these violent crimes involve conflict between rival gangs and are largely contained in organized crime. With that said, crimes are known to still affect pedestrians, with the biggest concerns being assault, pickpocketing, and mugging, particularly at night.

Corruption is also an area of concern in Natal. Still, most of the city’s crime and violence can be avoided by sticking to the wealthier neighborhoods, including Lagoa Nova, Neoplos, and Candelária.

7. Fortaleza

Crime Index:76.64

An-Aerial-View-Of-Copacabana-Fortalezza

Boasting a population of about 2.43 million people, Fortaleza is the fourth-largest city in Brazil. However, with a Crime Index of 76.64, it is also the country’s 7th most dangerous destination.

Despite this, Fortaleza boasts many attractions for incoming tourists, ranging from its sprawling white sand beaches, cultural markets, and the nearby Lencois Maranhenses National Park, which has made this picturesque city one of the country’s most visited destinations at the beginning of the century.

However, an increase in gang activity over the past two decades has seen Fortaleza’s tourism industry decline as crime rates continue to rise with growing incidents of assault, armed robbery, and even murder, with the city boasting the country’s 7th highest homicide rates, with 42.63 murders committed per 100,000 people in 2022.

8. Rio Branco

Crime Index: 86.4

Rio Branco boasts the highest Crime Index of any city in Brazil, with a reported score of 86.4. However, this number is slightly inflated due to the limited data Numbeo has on the destination. Still, with a homicide rate of 41.85 murders per 100,000 people, Rio Branco falls right in between Fortaleza and Teresina as the 8th most dangerous city in Brazil.

Found along the Bolivian border at the western edge of the Amazon, Rio Branco is the capital city of the Acre state and has become the hotbed of the region’s criminal activity in recent years.

Along with its high murder rates, violent and non-violent crimes are common in the city, including assault, pickpocketing, and scams. Much of the city’s crime is attributed to drug trafficking, and tourists should practice a high degree of caution when visiting.

9. Teresina

Crime Index: 76.57

Teatro-4-De-Setembro-Teresina

Located in the state of Piaui in northeastern Brazil, Teresina is the country’s 9th most dangerous city, with a total Crime Index of 76.57. Among one of the city’s biggest concerns is its high homicide rates, which, at 37.3 murders per 100,000 people, is among the top ten in the country.

However, homicide is just the peak of the crime scene, with Teresina also experiencing high levels of corruption and organized crime, leading to common occurrences of muggings, assault, and drug trafficking.

Fortunately, in terms of tourist attractions, Teresina doesn’t offer anything particularly special, and the city can be avoided without the fear of missing out. Still, if you must visit, it is advised to stick to the main tourist areas and avoid walking alone at night.

10. Recife

Crime Index: 75.86

Boa-Viagem-Beach-Recife

With 1.65 million residents in the city and 3.74 million people residing in the metro area, Recife is the fourth largest city in Brazil, dating back to early Portuguese colonization in 1537. It boasts a picturesque coastal location along the shores of the Atlantic and is renowned for its vibrant cultural, entertainment, and culinary scene.

Between its historical landmarks and cultural attractions, you would think Recife would be one of the country’s main tourist hubs. However, while the tourism industry does play an important role in the local economy, Recife is very under-traveled compared to some of the city’s more popular destinations, despite being arguably as pretty.

This is predominantly due to the city’s high crime levels, which have resulted in it being the 10th most dangerous city in Brazil, with a Crime Index of 75.86. The city’s homicide rates are ranked 8th in the country, with 39.89 murders per 100,000 people. Other common crimes and safety risks include property crimes, armed robbery, muggings, and drug use.

11. Belem

Crime Index: 72.94

Belem-A-State-Of-Pará-Brazil

The capital of the Para state, Belem is a beautiful and historic city set at the mouth of the Amazon River along the Atlantic coast in northeastern Brazil. While it has numerous tourist attractions to explore, visitors should practice caution when visiting the city, as high crime rates have earned it the reputation of being the 11th most dangerous city in Brazil.

With a Crime Index of 72.94, both violent and non-violent crimes are common in the city and are largely attributed to gang violence and drug activity in the area. While violent crime is largely contained to conflicts between rival gangs, bystanders and tourists can get caught in the crossfire.

However, the biggest concerns for visitors to the city are robberies, muggings, pickpocketing, and theft. As such, it is advised to avoid carrying cash or flashing signs of wealth when visiting the city. Additionally, you should stick to only the main tourist areas and only use reputable tour companies and transportation options.

12. Porto Alegre

Crime Index: 70.97

Farroupilha-Park-Porto-Alegre

Boasting a population of 1.33 million people, Porto Alegre is one of the largest cities in Brazil and is the capital of the Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.

Like Fortaleza, Porto Alegre was once one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, boasting historical landmarks and cultural attractions. However, a rise in crime in recent years has deterred many people from visiting the city, with a total Crime Index of 70.97, garnering it the reputation of being the 12th most dangerous city in the country.

With poverty and homelessness on the rise, so too are the city’s crime levels, particularly property crimes such as pickpockets, theft, and scams. However, violent crimes are also known to occur, including assaults, muggings, and drug trafficking.

While travel to the city should be avoided, those making the journey should stick to the safer areas of Moinhos de Vento, Bela Vista, and Tres Figueiras and avoid walking alone at night.

13. Manaus

Crime Index: 70.87

Historic-Monument-On-Public-Square-Manaus

The capital of the Amazonas state, Manaus is the largest city in the jungle and has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, resulting in an increase in the destination’s security.

However, with a total Crime Index of 70.87, it is still the 13th most dangerous city in Brazil. With that said, the majority of the city’s crime consists of non-violent incidents, including bag snatching, pickpocketing, and scams.

Violent crimes, while rarer, are still known to occur. In fact, with 50.66 murders per 100,000 people in 2022, Manaus boasts the third-highest murder rate in Brazil. And considering the city’s just over 2 million population, this means there are about 1,013 murders committed each year.

However, these violent crimes rarely affect tourists and largely occur between rival gangs. Most crimes can be avoided by practicing common safety procedures when traveling and sticking to popular tourist areas, such as Ponta Negra, Par que 10, and Adrianopolis.

14. São Paulo

Crime Index: 70.36

A-Morning-View-Of-Downtown-Sao-Paulo

Boasting a massive population of 11.45 million people, Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. What’s more is that with a burgeoning culinary scene, several cultural attractions, and numerous historical landmarks, the city has also become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

However, like many of the country’s large cities, Sao Paulo has been plagued by an uptick in crime in recent years, garnering a total Crime Index of 70.36 and earning itself the reputation as being the 14th most dangerous city in Brazil.

It is worth noting that the majority of the city’s crime is non-violent, with the most common offenses being thievery, robberies, and vehicle thievery. However, violent crimes are still known to occur and can include assault, muggings, and armed robberies. These crimes are more prevalent during city festivals, but caution should be practiced at all times.

15. Joao Pessoa

Crime Index: 66.63

Tambau-Beach-Joao-Pessoa

With a population of 817,511, Joao Pessoa is a moderate-sized coastal city sitting at the mouth of the Paraiba River in eastern Brazil. Founded in 1585, the city boasts over four centuries of history and promises all the popular attractions you would expect from the country’s coastal settings, including historical landmarks, a lively nightlife, and spanning white sand beaches.

And, while Joao Pessoa is considered safer than some of the country’s larger cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, and Sao Paulo, it still ranks as the 15th most dangerous city in Brazil, with a total Crime Index of 66.63.

However, it is worth noting that while Joao Pessoa was once considered the fourth most deadly city in the world, the city has drastically reduced its homicide rate from 79 murders per 100,000 people in 2014 to just 41 murders per 100,000 as of the last released statistics in 2018.

What’s more, violent crime rarely affects tourists in the city and can largely be avoided by staying along the touristed coastal regions of the city. Instead, the most common incidents involving foreigners are property thefts, including bag snatching, pickpocketing, and robberies.

While it is safe to walk around the coastal areas at night, caution should be practiced in inner neighborhoods, and visitors should be extra wary about using public buses.

16. Campinas

Crime Index: 66.34

A City View Of Campinas-In-Brazil

Located just north of Sao Paulo, Campinas is the third largest city in the state. And while it is considered a degree safer than the state capital, it still boasts a relatively high crime rate, with an index of 66.34, making it the 16th most dangerous city in Brazil.

With that said, like many of the cities in the state, acts of violent crime have experienced a reduction in recent years, with homicide rates decreasing more than 50% since their peak in 2016.

Instead, the most common incidents in Campinas involve property crimes, including pickpocketing, street robbery, and bag snatching. These are particularly common in high-tourism areas, such as the historic center and Botanic Garden.

While less common, violent crimes still occur in the city, including assaults, muggings, and even murder, but these rarely affect tourists and can be avoided by practicing a degree of caution.

17. Vitoria Conquista

Crime Index: 65.2

Vitoria-Conquista-City-Street-Brazil

With a population of 341,000 people, Vitoria Conquista is much smaller than many other cities featured on this list. However, with 184 murders committed in 2022, the Vitoria Conquista has garnered a reputation as being the country’s 5th deadliest city and the 24th deadliest in the world, with a homicide rate of 47 incidents per 100,000 people.

It is worth noting that the city’s murder rate is drastically down from the 70.3 homicides per 1000,000 people reported in 2017, which is largely the reason why Vitoria Conquista isn’t featured higher on this list, with a current Crime Index of 65.2.

Still, the city is no stranger to violent crime, with mugging and assaults still being common occurrences. However, property crimes are much more common and include pickpocketing, bag snatching, and various scams.

18. Belo Horizonte

Crime Index: 63.25

Lagoa-Da-Pampulha-In-Belo-Horizonte

With a crime index of 63.25, Belo Horizonte is the 18th most dangerous city in Brazil. Still, this charming mountain city of 2.7 million people is considered much safer than other cities featured on this list and poses minimal risks to tourists’ security.

The most common crimes in Belo Horizonte involve property theft and include pickpocketing, street scams, and bag snatchers. However, violent crimes can also occur, including spiked drinks and muggings, although these incidents are much rarer.

Most of the city’s crimes are contained in the neighborhoods that make up the community’s outskirts and can largely be avoided by sticking to the main tourist areas. Still, visitors should practice extra caution and generally avoid walking alone at night.

19. Curitiba

Crime Index: 62.15

Curitiba-Botanic-Garden-In-Parana-Brazil

Coming in as the 19th most dangerous city in Brazil, Curitiba is the capital of the Parana state in southern Brazil and is another area that is still considered a relatively safe travel destination despite its moderate crime levels.

The most common of the city’s crimes are pickpockets and scams. However, more violent crimes are not entirely uncommon, with muggings being a serious security risk in the city.

Curitiba’s high crime levels can largely be attributed to the city’s drug trade, which is highly active in both urban neighborhoods and tourist areas. Tourists are warned against engaging drug dealers and should avoid walking alone at night.

About The Author

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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Picture of Kurt Norris

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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