The world is a big place and there are countless countries and cities to explore. From the harbours of Monte Carlo to the deserts of Australia, the list of places to visit is endless.
Well, nearly endless.
Just as how there are beautiful places to visit around the world, there are places that are definitely not tourist-friendly. Countries such as Colombia, South Africa, and Mexico may be beautiful in theory, but they are also littered with dangerous drug cartels, mass violence, political turmoil, terrorist activities, and severe socio-economic issues. There are places in those countries that you should never visit unless you want to either prematurely end up at the pearly gates or be sold off somewhere.
To give you an idea on where not to visit, here are 15 of the most dangerous cities on Earth.
15. Cali, Colombia – Cartel Haven
Cali has had the unceremonious distinction of consistently being either the most dangerous city or second most dangerous city, depending on a good or bad year, in Colombia.
Due to the dominance of feared drug trafficking cartels such as the Cali Cartel, the Norte del Valle Cartel and the Los Rastrojo, and the presence of corrupt guerrilla groups such as FARC, crime is rampant throughout the city. Based on the most recent stats available, Cali registered a homicide rate of 83 people killed per 100,000 inhabitants.
A warning to tourists, Cali (or Colombia in general) is as pretty as a butterfly, but it will probably also sting you like a thousand bees until you die.
14. San Salvador, El Salvador – Over 2,000 Murders in 2015
San Salvador is the capital city of El Salvador, a tiny country in Central America. With a population of only about 570,000, the city has a homicide rate of 45 people killed per 100,000 inhabitants. In fact, murders in El Salvador totalled nearly 2,200 in just the first half of 2015. That’s just frightening.
The source of this crime can be traced to the presence of powerful gangs such as the MS-13 and the Barrio 18, and the never-ending hostilities between them. Violence is like second nature in this city and many civilians are caught in the crossfire of these constant gang wars.
Just to top it all off, these gangs aren’t particularly well-organised compared to the Yakuza or Mafia, so most of their income comes from robberies and extortion. So not only will you be killed if you visit, but you’ll most definitely lose every cent on you before you hit the ground.
13. Karachi, Pakistan – Most Dangerous Metropolis
Karachi is the provincial capital of Sindh, Pakistan’s largest city, and the second most populous city in the world. It is also regarded as one of the most dangerous places to go should you ever decide to visit Pakistan.
Karachi is rife with political instability and hostile conflicts between foreign and indigenous terrorist groups. Alongside the pretty tourist spots and the beaches, you can also expect robberies, kidnappings, terrorism, assassinations, and murder on a daily basis. Per the most recent stats, Karachi had a homicide rate of 12.3 people per 100,000 inhabitants, although crime has decreased recently in 2015.
Still, this puts Karachi as far and away the most dangerous mega-city in the world and it remains one capital city you might want to consider skipping in your travels.
12. Detroit, USA – America’s Most Dangerous City
In 1987, Robocop depicted a futuristic Detroit as a bankrupted city that’s overrun by crime and a severe lack of law enforcement to maintain the peace. Aside from humanoid cyborgs and robots, the producers probably didn’t expect that their futuristic depiction of Detroit would turn out to be so eerily accurate.
Named America’s most dangerous city in 2013 and 2014 (despite a decrease in crime), Detroit is definitely not a place you want to visit. With a population of nearly 700,000, Detroit has a staggering violent crime rate of 2,072 per 100,000 inhabitants and a murder rate of 45 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. With 38.1 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, it’s easy (and sad) to see why Detroit has such a shady reputation.
Seeing how bad crime has become in the city, maybe a humanoid law-enforcement cyborg is what Detroit actually needs.
11. Sana’a, Yemen – A Destabilized City
These days, you can’t watch the news without some mention of Yemen. That’s because Yemen, Sana’a specifically, is one of the most dangerous places to live in the world.
The political situation in Sana’a has been incredibly unstable ever since the destabilisation of the country’s government in 2012. This has led to a deterioration in living standards and a massive uptick in crime. Constant bombings, assassinations, and random acts of terrorism are mixed in with everyday robberies, murders, and other small petty crimes. Power outages are common, fresh water and supplies are hard to find, and life is slowly dying away in the city.
Until everything sorted out, which could take quite a while, stay clear of Sana’a for the time being.
10. Mogadishu, Somalia – Land Without A Goverment
Over the last few years, Somalia has been synonymous with pirates, crime, and Tom Hanks. The danger in Somalia is probably best exemplified by its capital city, Mogadishu, or as called by some, the most dangerous city on Earth.
Ever since embassies and the UN pulled out in the 90’s due to political collapse in Somalia, there has not been an effective government in place in Mogadishu, resulting in an ongoing brutal civil war. A group of Al Qaeda rejects called al-Shabab did manage to hold some sort of power during the mid-2000’s until they were forced out only very recently by African Union fighters.
With corruption, poverty, crime, violence, and bombings jostling for attention every day in Mogadishu, the city has definitely earned its long-standing reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities on Earth.
9. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – The Murder Capital Of The World
Ciudad Juarez has as an unsavoury reputation for being a drug and trafficking haven and is one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities.
Called by some as the ‘murder capital of the world’, and also known as the unofficial capital for all things related to drugs in Mexico, Ciudad Juarez is a place that is (unsurprisingly) run by drug traffickers. As such, it is an exceedingly dangerous and lawless place where drug-related crime, violence, and murder is exceedingly common. Even the police are generally useless as corruption is rampant throughout the city and most law enforcement agencies are paid off by drug gangs.
There’s still some hope though.
From a high of 8.5 killings a day in 2010 to “only” 530 murders in 2013 and 434 in 2014, the “murder capital of the world” has been improving slowly. Very slowly.
8. Baghdad, Iraq – Casualties Of ISIS
Ever since the US invaded Baghdad, the city garnered a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
For years, bombings, bullets, and murder were just a whisker away for everyone living in Baghdad. After years of constant warfare, the city’s infrastructure and economy has been virtually destroyed. Ever since US forces decided to withdraw, the war-torn city has been struggling to survive and random acts of crime and terrorism continue to occur.
Whilst the situation in Baghdad isn’t as bad as it once was, relatively speaking, at least 12,282 civilians were killed in 2014 due to the rise of ISIS. One danger may be out of the way but it seems like another danger is coming to take its place.
7. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – The Mugging Capital Of The World
Despite numerous other Brazilian cities having higher murder rates, Rio de Janeiro has considerably greater tourist numbers and is the second largest city in Brazil, making it a ripe hub for crime.
The homicide rate in Rio has decreased in recent years from 42 homicides in 100,000 inhabitants in 2005 to 24 in 100,000 inhabitants. But whilst you’re now less likely to be killed in Rio, you’re also much more likely to get robbed. Street crimes, robberies, and muggings actually increased from a reported 6,626 instances in December 2013 to 7,849 in December 2014. The number of mobile phones stolen increased an astonishing 74.5 per cent over the same period.
So despite the high rate of crime and murder still in Rio, undeterred people still flock to Rio for the sights, the culture, the football, and for that massive Jesus statue. On the bright side, at least you’re more likely to get your phone taken than you are at getting shot or stabbed to death.
6. Cape Town, South Africa – Most Violent City In Africa
Cape Town is the provincial capital of the Western Cape and is the second most populated city in South Africa. But despite being one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world, it is also one of the most dangerous.
Cape Town was recently found to have the worst crime rate in the country with 8,428 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. That’s crazy, considering Cape Town has a population of 3.75 million. With an uncomfortably high murder rate of 50.94 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, Cape Town also has the dubious distinction of being the the most violent city on the continent.
Due to the socio-economic disparity between classes and increasing instances of gang warfare, murders, robberies, rapes, and kidnappings are all pretty standard stuff for this beautiful city. Just make sure you don’t stray from the tourist areas if you plan on visiting.
5. Guatemala City, Guatemala – Violent City
Guatemala City may be a beautiful city in Central America, but beneath the numerous tourist attractions and beautiful sights, it is also a place that has a serious drug and crime problem.
Given that Guatemala borders Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, drugs play a major part in the fabric of the country. Couple that with a large disparity between socio-economic classes, severe poverty, and an over-abundance of guns, Guatemala City is a haven for drug-fueled crimes that include robberies, assaults, kidnappings, and carjackings. In fact, it has one of the highest violent crime rates in Central America with about 42 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
With law enforcement being next to useless due to corruption and the threat of organised drug gangs, Guatemala City should remain on everyone’s ‘don’t visit’ list.
4. Kabul, Afghanistan – Caught In The Crossfire Of War
Much like Baghdad, all hell broke loose in Afghanistan when the US invaded years ago. Kabul, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, was caught in the crossfire and became one of the most dangerous cities in the world for nearly a decade.
It’s like everything bad that could happen to a city decided to hit Kabul in one shot. There’s economic instability and severe poverty, thus leading to kidnappings, homicides, and other petty crimes. There’s political instability, thus leading to constant power struggles, violence and terrorist bombings. There are also a number of different factions fighting in Afghanistan, thus making all the aforementioned problems unpredictable and even more dangerous.
Last but not least, although the US have minimised their presence in Afghanistan, the rise of ISIS has prompted fears that more violence and instability could still hit Kabul. Not that you needed any more reason not to visit Kabul anyway.
3. Caracas, Venezuela – Street Violence
Caracas is known for three things: being the capital of Venezuela, murders, and drugs. With Venezuela mired in incredibly troubling economic times, street violence and gangs have essentially taken over Caracas.
Named the most or second most dangerous city in the world (depending on who you ask), Caracas has an astonishing murder rate of 134 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, most of which go unsolved. What’s more depressing is the number of murders in all of Venezuela, which totaled over 24,000 in 2014. Caracas has a population of about 3.5 million.
Due to the escalating gang hostilities that have spilled out onto the streets, crime is free game in Caracas. With the usual offenders such as robberies, murders, rapes, and kidnappings just scratching the tip of a horrendously violent iceberg, it’s best to stay away from Caracas.
2. Acapulco, Mexico – Corrupt Law Enforcement
Acapulco has been a luxury coastal destination for movie stars, celebrities, and high-profile sporting events for years. But take one step away from the “touristy” areas and you’ll find yourself caught up in the underbelly of Mexico’s most dangerous city.
It wasn’t too long ago that Acapulco was on every tourist’s go-to list, but in recent years, Acapulco has consistently registered the highest murder rate for a Mexican city. In 2014, the murder rate was a shocking 104 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The local police are corrupt and have been known to extort money from people rather than uphold the law. And then there’s the drug problem. Drug dealing and violence are major issues in Acapulco and it is not uncommon to see dead bodies littering the streets after a drug-related altercation.
Should tourists escape from the police or drug hostilities, they’ll have to withstand the usual serving of murders, robberies, muggings, and kidnappings are on the menu.
1. San Pedro Sula, Honduras – Most Dangerous City In The World
San Pedro Sula consistently being at the top of every world’s most dangerous city list is as guaranteed as death and taxes.
Located in northwest Honduras, San Pedro Sula is considered the most dangerous city in the most dangerous country in the world. In 2014, the murder rate was a mind-numbing 171 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. That is the highest rate per capita for a city that’s not a war zone and it works out to be about 3 homicides a day.
The city is rife with drug trafficking, illegal arms trafficking, gang warfare over power, and countless murders due to each of the aforementioned problems. No one blinks an eye when violence spills out onto the streets every day. Sadly for civilians, their safety is the last thing on anyone’s minds as the city is more or less controlled by drug cartels and law enforcement is virtually useless in San Pedro Sula.
To put it into perspective, you know a city is dangerous when issues like political instability, poverty, and corruption are considered to be minor problems (relatively speaking).