Whether it’s partaking on a wildlife safari or unwinding along one of the tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, visiting an African country is an experience featured on the bucket list of many travelers.
For many, the African continent beckons dreams of uncharted exploration, rugged natural landscapes, and untouched ecosystems and cultures just waiting to be explored.
Unfortunately, due to high poverty levels and crime rates present in many of the continent’s countries, Africa as a whole has garnered a reputation for being a dangerous place to visit.
While it has its problem areas to avoid, many African countries are among the safest places on earth to visit, promising plenty of security for exploring their untouched natural havens.
By comparing each destination’s Global Peace Index, local crime rates against tourists, and my personal experiences, I have created this list of the 13 safest countries in Africa to help you plan a safe and enjoyable adventure.
The 13 Safest Countries in Africa
Global Peace Index: 1.55
A small island isolated in the Indian Ocean off of Africa’s eastern coast, Mauritius is an idyllic island haven boasting a relaxing, carefree atmosphere for enjoying its breathtaking white sand beaches, natural landscapes, and aquatic ecosystems.
What’s even better is the island promises a safe and secure setting for enjoying everything the destination has to offer. With a Global Peace Index of 1.55, Mauritius is the safest country in Africa to visit and is the 23rd safest country in the world, comparable to the safety levels of Australia and Norway.
The country boasts a low crime rate compared to other neighboring countries, with violent crimes being especially rare. The most common forms of crime are petty in nature and include pickpocketing and scams. Still, these tend to be concentrated around major tourist hubs and can be avoided by practicing a degree of caution.
Instead, the biggest safety risk of visiting Mauritius is the chance of getting caught in some form of natural disaster, the most notable are cyclones. Cyclone season runs from November to May, with most of the island’s tropical storms occurring during this time.
These storms are known to cause notable damage and pose safety risks, and visitors should stay wary of posted warnings and local advice.
Global Peace Index: 1.76
Home to the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and Nxai Pan National Park, Botswana has long served as a popular tourist destination for safaris and nature lovers. With a Global Peace Index of 1.76, this natural paradise is the second safest country in Africa and the safest overall on the continental mainland.
Landlocked between Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, it is the 42nd safest country in the world but does have its problem areas, most notably around Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill. That being said, criminal activity involving tourists is rare, with the most common crimes being pickpocketing and theft. However, violent crime, break-ins, and carjackings can occur.
With crime levels being low, the biggest threat to travelers’ safety in Botswana is the risk of wildlife attacks and waterborne diseases. It is essential to listen to your guides when interacting with wildlife, as well as avoid swimming in lakes or rivers.
3. Sierra Leone
Global Peace Index: 1.79
Coming in just behind Botswana as the third safest country in Africa is Sierra Leone. A small country set on Africa’s western coast between Liberia and Guinea, Sierra Leone is known for its friendly locals and welcoming atmosphere.
However, this doesn’t stop the country from having a high crime rate, and visitors should practice caution when traveling to the country. Still, these mostly consist of petty crimes, including pickpockets, bag snatching, and scams.
Muggings are also known to occur and can occasionally involve weapons. Violent crimes such as assault and robbery are also prevalent in the country but don’t tend to target tourists and tend to be concentrated around Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city.
Before visiting Sierra Leone, it is also important to stay up to date with the country’s current political landscape. While the country has taken steps to improve its democracy in recent years, Sierra Leone can experience periods of political unrest, which can often result in violent demonstrations.
Visitors should avoid areas experiencing political gatherings and comply with any local regulations.
Global Peace Index: 1.8
Ghana has a long-standing reputation as one of the safest countries in Africa. Despite the country experiencing a steady increase in crime in recent years, the country’s crime rate is still relatively low when compared to nearby nations.
The majority of Ghana’s crimes tend to be in areas around its border, specifically in the northern regions near Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin. The southern regions along Ghana’s picturesque coast are still at risk of experiencing crime, although violent crimes are rare.
The most common security risks to visitors in these tourist areas include petty theft, scams, and pickpockets, although violent crimes and assaults can occur. It is important to practice diligence, especially when roaming after dark.
With all of this said, as long as proper precautions are taken, Ghana tends to be a safe country to visit and is even considered the 51st safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.
Global Peace Index: 1.83
Coming in just behind Ghana as the 52nd safest country in the world, Senegal is another destination that promises plenty of security for enjoying the cultural havens and breathtaking beaches of Western Africa’s coastlines.
But while Senegal is considered safe for tourists, it isn’t without its problem areas, most notably in the Casamance region of southwestern Senegal, where armed separatist groups are known to occasionally attack and rob.
Another area to avoid is the regions around the border with Mali, one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.
Still, despite these areas of high risk, violent crimes, acts of terrorism, and other forms of violence rarely affect tourists. Instead, the most common security risks affecting foreigners are petty crimes, such as theft and scams. These incidents can scale into more violent actions, and tourists should still practice caution when visiting the country.
Global Peace Index: 1.85
The island nation of Madagascar off the eastern coast of the mainland comes in as the sixth safest country in Africa, with a Global Peace Index of 1.85. While the country is considered a safe destination to visit, it has experienced a slight increase in crime rates in recent years as a result of political instability.
Robberies, muggings, and car thefts have seen an increase in recent years, although acts of violent crime rarely affect foreign tourists. Still, pickpockets, scammers, and bag snatchers are prevalent in Madagascar, and extra caution should be practiced when visiting markets or transportation hubs.
Overall, Madagascar is a massive island promising plenty of rural areas and natural attractions, and crime can often be avoided by steering clear of political protests and densely populated urban areas with high poverty levels.
Global Peace Index: 1.86
Hugging the Atlantic Coast next to Botswana, Namibia is another one of Africa’s safest countries and is known for the warm and welcoming locals that make it one of the best destinations for solo trips and female travelers.
Boasting the lowest population density of any African country, Namibia promises vast open spaces, beautifully rugged landscapes, and expansive areas to escape urban sprawl and enjoy your own slice of paradise.
With all of this said, there are a few safety risks that tourists to the country should be aware of. Firstly, despite being one of the safest places to visit, Namibia does have a relatively high crime rate. However, these are largely focused around large urban areas, such as the Namibian capital of Windhoek.
Both muggings and pickpockets are common in these city settings and tend to occur when making a withdrawal from an ATM. Local police have found that taxi drivers are often complicit in these crimes, and transportation should only be arranged through reputed tour agencies or hotels.
8. The Gambia
Global Peace Index: 1.89
With a Global Peace Index of 1.89, The Gambia is the eighth safest country in Africa. However, the country has been a long-standing safe haven for visitors, promising security levels rivaling those of other destinations featured higher on this list.
What’s more is that The Gambia is surrounded by another of the safest countries on the continent, with Senegal serving as a protective buffer between it and the higher crime hot spots of Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Mauritania.
The only reason that The Gambia isn’t featured higher on this list is because high poverty levels and reported corruption have resulted in an increase in crime rates over recent years. However, the majority of crimes in the country are minor, with violent crimes being much rarer.
Another security risk to be aware of when visiting The Gambia is the local corruption of the country’s law enforcement. There have been numerous reports in recent years of tourists being approached to purchase marijuana while police officers lie in wait to demand bribes. It is essential to practice caution and use your best judgment when visiting the country.
Global Peace Index: 1.9
Landlocked in the heart of southern Africa, Zambia is the ninth safest country in Africa. Boasting relatively low crime rates, the country promises a generally safe and secure setting for exploring its numerous natural attractions, including Victoria Falls, Kafue National Park, and the lower Zambezi National Park.
However, while most of the country’s top attractions are relatively crime-free, there are some regions to either avoid or practice a higher degree of caution. For starters, border areas around Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique should be avoided due to both higher crime and the risk of landmines.
Another area to practice higher caution is in Lusaka, where date-rape drugs are known to be used in both bars and restaurants.
Beyond these problem areas, the majority of the country’s crimes are minor offenses and include petty theft, pickpocketing, and bag snatching. These tend to concentrate around tourist areas, transportation hubs, and city centers, especially following withdrawals from an ATM.
Global Peace Index: 1.95
Located just south of Sierra Leone along Africa’s western coast, Liberia is known for its biodiverse rainforests, beautiful palm-fringed beaches, and world-class surf scene. Along with being a dream destination for many, Liberia is also one of the safest countries on the African continent, with a Global Peace Index of 1.95.
While Liberia has a reputation for civil unrest as a result of conflicts that occurred throughout the 90s, the country has grown in stability over the past two decades, with the local government working closely with the United Nations to increase its stability even further going forward.
With that said, occasional public protests do still occur, and tourists to the country should avoid these public rallies.
While crime levels are relatively low throughout Liberia, petty and violent crimes are more prevalent in the capital city of Monrovia. Pickpockets are common in densely populated areas, with more violent crimes being armed carjackings.
There are also reports of taxi drivers performing robberies, and transportation should be arranged through a reputable tour company or your hotel.
Global Peace Index: 1.97
Ranking just two below Liberia on the Global Peace Index, Malawi is the 11th safest country in Africa and arguably the safest country to visit in Southeast Africa.
The local Malawi people are known for their warm and welcoming nature, inviting visitors from around the globe to explore their local cultures. However, despite the amicable nature of the majority of the local population, Malawi isn’t without its crime, and both petty and violent crimes are a concern when visiting this destination.
Fortunately, these security threats are largely confined to major cities, particularly Lilongwe, and can often be avoided by practicing a higher degree of caution when visiting these regions. Popular tourist hubs can also be targets, but these areas are primarily petty thefts and pickpockets.
With that said, more violent crimes can still occur in these areas, particularly after sunset. For this reason, it is important to not walk alone at night and be cautious of showing signs of wealth or valuables.
Global Peace Index: 2.02
Nestled along the northwestern part of the African Continent, Morocco is the 12th safest country in Africa and has become a popular tourist destination thanks to its cultural markets, desert treks, and exotic communities.
And while crime rates are relatively low, Morocco is infamous for its petty crimes, including various scam artists and pickpockets. A good tactic to practice when visiting this country is to only carry small amounts of cash at a time and to be extra cautious when making a withdrawal from an ATM.
The popular tourist hubs of Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira tend to provide higher safety levels, as these local economies are highly dependent on the tourism industry. Extra caution should be practiced when visiting more remote regions, such as the Atlas Mountains.
Finally, traveling to Morocco’s border region of Western Sahara should be avoided altogether, as the region is plagued by unexploded ordnance, which has resulted in numerous fatalities each year.
Overall, Morocco makes for a safe cultural destination as long as you familiarize yourself with local customs and use common sense.
Global Peace Index: 2.06
Home to the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania has become a popular tourist destination for safaris and mountain hikes. With a Global Peace Index of 2.06, it is also the 13th safest country in Africa, offering plenty of security for your outdoor adventures.
However, while considered a safe country, Tanzania has experienced an increase in its crime rate in recent years, dropping it to the 91st safest country in the world in 2023 from its spot as the 71st in 2019.
With that said, most of these crimes tend to occur in Arusha Town and Stone Town. While travelers often pass through these regions on their way to the more popular attractions, most tourists don’t tend to spend much time in these areas.
In fact, most crimes in the country do not affect foreigners at all, and Tanzania remains a great and safe destination to visit.