Traveling the world is exciting. Despite the glamor, the beauty, and all the history of international travel, there remain a few cities and countries that might be best avoided. Places where it might be inadvisable for foreigners to visit. Trouble for travelers can come in a variety of forms from gangs, to drugs, to random street violence, and even corrupt policemen. While some might believe these dangers are overblown or that there’s smoke but no fire, there’s no doubt peril exists for the unobserved and reckless. Keep your eyes open, make good decisions, and don’t trust anyone because here are ten of the most dangerous cities on earth.
10 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When you think of crime you probably don’t think of Rio de Janerio, but high crime rates are extremely common in many Brazilian cities. Behind the glitz and glamour there exists danger for travelers. Even so, Rio easily remains the most popular destination city in Brazil and sees a massive influx of tourists all year long, but especially during Carnivale. Ten years ago Rio might have been higher on this list. Today it’s safer than it once was, but street crime is extremely problematic. Theft, robberies, and violence are common, especially at night and on the busy beaches. While non-violent crime rates have risen, murders, assaults and other violent crimes have actually decreased in recent years.
9 Cape Town, South Africa
Johannesburg and Cape Town have seen significant increase in already high crime rates in recent years. Visitors are drawn here because of the beautiful scenery, but they should be advised to stay to the popular tourist areas, not to travel alone, and to avoid the poor neighborhoods. Because of huge discrepancies in ethnic views and economic disparities there remains a divide between the classes. Crimes such as kidnapping, murder and robbery are extremely commonplace. Rape is also problematic as are race crimes. Outside the highly traveled tourist areas visitors can experience a wide variety of problems.
8 Guatemala City, Guatemala
Like many cities in Central America, Guatemala City has a drug trafficking problem. With a massive influx of drugs come weapons, money and lots of violence. Murder rates, carjackings, robberies and assaults happen daily – and tourists are often caught in the crossfire. One particular problem is bus robberies, where armed robbers stop buses full of tourists or travelers and rob them blind. It’s a shame, because Guatemala is beautiful and has many popular tourist attractions, but visitors should be wary. Poor infrastructure, corrupt police and armed drug runners makes Guatemala City an extremely dangerous city, especially for tourists and travelers.
7 Baghdad, Iraq
It probably shouldn’t come as a shock that it’s ill-advised for Americans to travel to Iraq. Decades of warfare have created a hostile environment and a city in transition. American troops are slowly leaving the war-torn country, and possibly not for the better. Most of the violence comes in the form of gunfire or explosions. A constant fight between government, armed organizations and the military has created crazy amounts of tension. Terrorism is common and violence is often lethal. Less violent crime isn’t as problematic, but Baghdad is not an advisable destination for travelers.
6 Acapulco, Mexico
This might surprise some that Acapulco is on this list – after all, the city has been a highly travelled and luxurious destination for years. Tourists still flock here, but an increase in drug activity has created a volatile and hostile environment and a city in transition. Murder rates have soared, and Acapulco now sports one of the highest murder rates in the world at roughly 142 per 100,000 residents. Tourist destinations remain relatively safe and most of the crime are confined to the outlying regions.
5 Caracas, Venezuela
The streets of Caracas are rife with gangs and a constant battle over drugs. Street crime is prevalent and tourists are often victims of muggings and theft. The real problem though is the rampant drug trafficking and all that entails – crime, violence, weapons and money. Homicide rates are extraordinarily high. In fact, in 2008 The Foreign Policy magazine dubbed Caracas the “Murder capital of the world” because in December of 2008 510 people were murdered. One would think an alarming statistic like that would force government to do something proactive to repair the problem. However, it’s believed that the murder rate has only increased since then, by as much as 67%!
4 Kabul, Afghanistan
Trapped in a war zone, Kabul has been one of the most dangerous cities in the world for nearly a decade. Violence, bombings, shootings and terrorist attacks make foreign travel possibly a suicidal act for Americans. Violence is not only common, but also unpredictable, just like the future of the city. The desperate struggle between the local government, power-hungry militant groups, terrorists and American forces have created a hostile environment in which anything can happen at any time.
3 Karachi, Pakistan
An upheaval in the political system, ethnic tensions, increased violence, and terrorism has created a cauldron of turmoil and a city tourists should avoid. Like many cities in the Middle East and in a war zone, Karachi is a place Americans could run into problems. Suicide attacks, assassinations, murders, robberies, assaults and car jackings are problematic. However, the worst aspect of Karachi is that it is a hotbed of human trafficking. Kidnappings happen far too often and Karachi is considered the portal for the elicit transportation of sex slaves into the western world.
2 Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Just south of the American border, Ciudad Juarez is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Corrupt police, bought by drug cartels, cause as many problems as they solve. Worse, many crimes go unsolved because the police could care less. Drugs, violence, and murder are prevalent – and everyone is caught in the crossfire. Drug and crime violence is so bad that in 2009 over 2,600 people were killed in the drug wars. No one lives long here. Assassinations, drive by shootings, and gang retribution are common.
1 San Pedro Sula, Honduras
San Pedro Sula has frequently appeared on lists featuring the world’s most dangerous cities for several years. The city suffers from an economic divide, problems with drug cartels, and weapon trafficking. Illegal arms dealing has led to armed gangs and a heavy increase in murders. In fact, San Pedro Sula is believed to have the highest murder rate in the world. The homicide rate is believed to be about 169 per 100,000 residents – and many of those killed are armed gang members shooting it out in the city streets.