Global travel is one of the most exciting adventures that you can have. Traveling to new countries and cities allows you to experience different cultures and traditions. When you plan a trip to another country, there are lots of things to consider and plan for. One of the most important things you need to consider is your safety in the country you are heading to.
Not all countries, even those that are popular for tourists are safe. As you plan your journey, it is important to spend as much time researching how to travel safely in your foreign destination, as you do your travel accommodations.
In this article, I have put together a list of the 25 most dangerous countries in the world. Some of these countries are not known for being tourist destinations, but they are dangerous nonetheless. Others on this list are clear tourist favorites, and you may find it surprising to see them on the list.
The 25 Most Dangerous Countries in The World
My list of the 25 most dangerous countries in the world reaches across the globe. However, you will find that most of the dangerous countries are in Africa. This is not done intentionally, but rather a result of our methods and research.
This list is based on the Global Peace Index of 2023. This document is developed annually by the Institute of Economics and Peace. This organization utilizes 23 factors, including violent crime rates, incidents of natural disasters, resource availability, and economic stability, to determine the global peace index rating for each country. The lower the score, the more peaceful the country.
The higher the number, the less peaceful, and less safe a country is. I also utilized information from the United States government resources (State Department and CIA) and The Human Rights Watch to develop this list.
Though the GPI for Nigeria is not the highest on our list, it is a country that has been dealing with violence for numerous years. The greatest threat of violence in this country comes from the terrorist group Boko Haram. This Islamic group has been terrorizing the country, particularly its small farming communities and nomadic groups.
In early 2023, violence escalated in this already unstable country during presidential elections. Currently, anti-government groups, particularly in the southeastern part of the country are adding to the violence already experienced here.
It isn’t surprising that Afghanistan is on this list. Sadly for the people of this country, there have been very few years when the country was in relative peace and safety. Since the 1980s the country has been subject to many violent conflicts. When not in conflict with other nations, Afghanistan’s government is controlled by the Taliban. This group, because of their interpretation of the Koran, is quick to attack individuals, even Afgan residents if it is believed that religious laws have been broken.
Prior to the American occupation of the country, the Taliban had minimal control, except in certain parts of the country. With the withdrawal of American and European troops in 2021, the country now is firmly controlled by the Taliban. The country is particularly unsafe for women, Christians, and US citizens. The peace index rating for Afghanistan in 2022 actually decreased from the 2021 rating of 3.631
Even though Mexico doesn’t have a particularly high GPI rating, the amount of crime, particularly violent crime, that residents and visitors experience in Mexico has been steadily increasing over the last decade. Most of the state and local governments in Mexico are run by corrupt politicians or members of drug cartels. Drug cartels are scattered throughout Mexico, and are the primary source of the violence that plagues the country.
Their actions are indiscriminate, targeting locals, other drug cartel members, and even tourists. Tourists in Mexico should avoid driving through the country, and take advantage of the services provided in cities that are popular for vacationers. Resort cities generally have a large presence of federal police, which can deter cartel activities.
Many people don’t think about Yemen when it comes to travel. However, the country has been immersed in an ongoing military conflict that has decimated the country. With a military-controlled government, and almost constant fighting in the small country, it has been almost impossible for citizens to farm or import necessary food and supplies.
Currently, the country is facing one of the most extreme humanitarian crises in the world. Nearly 80% of the 24 million citizens of Yemen are living in poverty. Because of the ongoing conflict, approximately 4.3 million people have fled the country for safety.
Israel is one of the most popular locations for vacationers across the globe. As the holy land for three of the world’s largest religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), visitors flock to this country to see historic locations and experience the diverse culture in this small country. However, Israel has long been in conflict with its neighboring countries. Particularly, Palestine.
Unfortunately, civilians and tourists are often the unintended casualties in this conflict. While the fighting between these two countries is not consistent, it can flare without warning. Visitors to Israel may experience gunfighting, bombings, and military activities. The unrest in this part of the world is hard to predict, and there is no way of knowing if your visit will be peaceful or not.
Syria has been in civil war since 2011. On the Global Peace Index list, it is the 3rd most dangerous country in the world. Ongoing fighting between the government and extremist groups, particularly ISIS, has made this country nearly unlivable, and certainly not a place to add to your vacation list. Since the start of the war in 2011, more than 5.7 million people have left Syria, and 6 million people within the country have lost their homes, jobs, and access to basic resources like food, water, and shelter.
7. South Africa
Like a few other places on our list South Africa isn’t the most dangerous place, but it is very popular for tourists. The country is very popular for its national parks and is a hot spot for safaris. However, in recent years, it has become one of the more dangerous places in the world due to a rising crime rate. Violent crime particularly has increased in South Africa. Murder, rape, assault, and muggings occur frequently in the parts of South Africa popular with visitors.
Carjacking has increased in the last few years. Not all parts of South Africa are dangerous. Smart travelers will check their local state department websites for travel advisory information prior to visiting this country.
Russia has been slowly becoming one of the more dangerous places for visitors, and since March 2021, when the war with Ukraine began, it has only gotten worse. Prior to the war with Ukraine, the country was already experiencing increased violence and unrest. The country’s authoritarian government is openly violent toward Russian citizens and visitors.
Contributing to the increasing violence in Russia is the strained economy and reduced imports of food and other necessary items. The country has seen an increase in crimes like robbery, assault, burglary, and other property crimes, as individuals attempt to survive in the difficult Russian economy.
9. South Sudan
In July 2011, South Sudan became the newest country in the world. Succession from greater Sudan occurred following more than two decades of civil war between the southern region and the northern region. When the country succeeded from Sudan, it was believed that the new country could find peace. However, in 2013, just two years after becoming a country, Southern Sudan fell into civil war.
Conflicts between tribal groups loyal to members of the newly established government have been fighting for control of the government. These conflicts have had a devastating effect on civilians. Besides the fear of violence, more than half of the residents of South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance ranging from food and shelter to health care.
10. Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has long been one of the most dangerous countries in the world and is the 2nd most dangerous country in sub-Saharan Africa. Much of the country’s 97 million residents live in poverty, and 5.8 million have been displaced within the country due to violence. The DR Congo has a very corrupt political system as well as numerous violent rebel and military groups that control parts of the country.
Murder, rape, kidnapping, and carjackings are very common in DR Congo. Additionally, to add to the insecurity of this country, there are extreme risks from natural disasters including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
For many years Ethiopia was subject to extreme drought conditions that caused immense suffering for citizens. Along with drought conditions and extreme poverty Ethiopia also struggled with political unrest and periods of civil war. In 1991, the ruling party of the government was overthrown, and until 2015, the country experienced relative peace.
In 2015 anti-government protests spawned a new wave of violence. Since 2015, there have been numerous violent conflicts between rebel groups and the government. The Tigray region is where much of the conflict between the government and anti-government groups is currently centered. Since 2020 this region has seen an increase occurrence of village massacres, rapes, destruction of homes and villages, and deliberate ethnic cleansing of certain minority groups.
These actions are at the hands of the Ethiopian military, and they deliberately attack civilians. Other parts of Ethiopia are also experiencing unrest, making most of the country unsafe for citizens and visitors alike.
Even though Iraq has an established government and military, this country continues to struggle with violence. Much of the violence in Iraq comes from terrorist attacks at the hands of ISIS. This organization kills civilians and Iraq military members without regard. Many small towns and villages in Iraq are controlled by ISIS, which creates humanitarian issues on top of the safety concerns of this country.
US citizens are particularly unsafe in Iraq. They are targets for kidnapping, torture, and killing by ISIS and other anti-government and anti-US groups within the country.
In Somalia, danger comes from both the government and the Islamic terror group Al-Shabab. In conflicts between these groups in attempts to control the country, Somali citizens are often the targets.
Violence in this country is heavily focused on women, with the primary types of violence being murder, rape, and kidnapping. In 2022, following multiple years of drought conditions, Somalia faced a substantial food shortage, which further exacerbated the violence and safety issues in this country.
The 2017 oil crisis in Venezuela set in motion an economic downturn for this South American country. Combined with corrupt government agents and the judicial system, Venezuela is experiencing a level of instability that it has not seen since the 1950s. Venezuela’s capital of Caracas is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It has an incredibly high rate of violent crime.
Currently, citizens of Venezuela are migrating away from the country at a high rate to avoid unjust imprisonment, crime organizations, and drug cartels. Tourists and journalists have recently become targets of the violence occurring in Venezuela.
15. Central African Republic
Central African Republic (CAR) sits at the heart of Africa. It is a central hub for the ethnic and cultural diversity of the continent. The country was the last in Africa to be colonized. French missionaries came to the country in 1903. When the French occupation of CAR ended and government control was returned to the tribal groups, the peace in this country ended.
Control of the government has changed numerous times under violent coups. The coups not only impact the stability of the government, but the violence spills over to innocent people. The murder rate in CAR is quite high due to the constant political conflict.
Sudan has been in some form of civil war since the middle part of the 20th century. The conflict in this country is generally between Islamic anti-government groups and non-Muslim populations. Sudan has one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and many of the humanitarian problems faced in the country are at the hands of the faction controlling the government.
In the early 2000s, conflict in Sudan centered around Darfur. It was in this conflict that reports of genocide at the hands of the Sudanese government occurred. Continued political unrest and ongoing conflict make this country unsafe for visitors and is resulting in one of the largest migrations out of Sudan, in many years.
17. El Salvador
El Salvador is one of the few countries on this list where violence is not attributed to a corrupt political system. In 1992 a peace treaty and government reform began following a multi-year civil war that claimed the lives of 75,000 people. However, this very poor country struggles to provide adequate funding for law enforcement and the military.
This has led to a very high rate of violent crime and extensive gang and organized crime activities. Poverty and poor law enforcement are the primary reasons that this country is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.
Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, by Russia in 2021, this country was consistently one of the most peaceful in the world. The peace index value for Ukraine skyrocketed in 2021 and has remained high since their war with Russia began. The decrease in safety in Ukraine is directly related to this war.
There have been reports of mass executions of Ukrainian citizens. Besides danger from on-the-ground fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian military, there is an increased risk of harm from bombs.
19. North Korea
North Korea is one of the most repressive and mysterious countries in the world. The communist government in control of the country is considered corrupt in the eyes of many of the world’s democratic governments. Western visitors to the country are allowed with strict rules and extreme government oversight.
However, there continue to be reports of travelers to North Korea going missing or ending up convicted of crimes and imprisoned. While many people are drawn to the mystery of the country, most governments discourage their citizens from traveling to North Korea.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Central America. Though it gained independence from Spain in 1821, it has struggled to maintain a functioning and non-corrupt government. The country is relatively peaceful, in that it is not currently experiencing a civil war or other internal conflict.
However, the level of poverty, lack of basic services like clean water, and constant threat from natural disasters, particularly hurricanes, make Honduras not particularly safe to visit. In recent years, the drug trade from Honduras has grown and much of the violent crime reported in Honduras is due to conflicts between competing drug cartels.
Libya is one of the five countries that make up the northern edge of the African continent. The country has been home to the Berbers for centuries, but it has also seen occupation by the Greeks, Phonecians, Romans, Egyptians, and the Ottoman Empire.
This diverse and rich history makes Libya one of the most interesting places in Africa to visit. However, the country has been considered unsafe for at least the last 50 years due to political unrest, violence from military regimes, and conflict between competing political and religious sects.
While the GPI for Libya is still quite high, in recent years, with peace agreements between the major political parties, there has been a slow, but consistent decrease in violent crime, and subsequently a lower GPI.
Turkey and its capital Istanbul were once the center of trade that stretched across Asia and into Europe. The country is rich in history and is a popular country for tourists. For many years, Turkey was quite peaceful, and a thriving tourism economy developed particularly in Istanbul.
However, as in many other countries in the region, Turkey has seen an increase in terrorist attacks in its major cities. The threat of terrorism, along with recent political unrest has left the country in turmoil and visitors at risk of violent attacks.
Colombia has long been known as one of the Central American countries where much of the world’s illicit drugs are produced. This alone is the largest cause of violence in Colombia. Competing drug czars, cartels, organized crime groups, and a corrupt government make living in and visiting Colombia dangerous. The country has recently seen an increase in kidnapping and human trafficking activities, on top of the very high violent crime rate.
Violence in Brazil is directly related to corrupt governments and a high poverty rate. While poverty is not a direct cause of violence in Brazil, the lack of proper funding for law enforcement in poor communities allows for gangs and organized crime groups to overtake neighborhoods.
Violence between gangs often impacts innocent citizens in some of Brazil’s largest cities. Rio de Janeiro, the largest city in Brazil, and a popular tourist destination is also one of the least safe in the country. There are reports of tourists being kidnapped, carjacked, and even murdered while visiting Rio and other parts of Brazil.
Lebanon, like Israel, is at the center of the holy lands for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This country’s history goes back thousands of years. Lebanon is bordered by Syria and Israel, both of which Lebanon has been in conflict with, almost constantly, since the 1970s. Currently, the country is controlled by Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group that is considered by many Western governments to be a terrorist organization.
The most recent conflict in Lebanon, between Hezbollah and Syria has left the country’s economy in shambles. As fighting periodically occurs, and with Hezbollah openly opposed to Western governments, particularly the United States, the country continues to be dangerous for both visitors and citizens.