Traveling in the World’s Most Dangerous Countries
|In my quest to travel to every country in the world, I honestly believe if I don’t do the most dangerous ones first when I’m young and free I’ll end up having different priorities or lose my ambitions later in life. My current focus on travel is knocking out what I believe to be the most dangerous countries in the world. You can sit back at the comfort of your own home and check back from time to time to see if I survive vacationing to all of these places or not. For the record, my goal is to see what is beautiful or unique in these countries, not to visit battlefields or intentionally put myself in dangerous situations. To see my actual travel experiences and hundreds of my photos in these countries click on a picture below.|
1) Somalia – Holding the title as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for decades, Somalia descended into chaos and anarchy in 1991 when rebel groups removed their dictatorship like government. Ever since, no one has had any control over the population and several clans each struggle to gain power in violent confrontations. At one point, Mogadishu was so dangerous that for many years the Somali president could not even stay in the city, and instead ‘ruled’ from neighboring Kenya. Tribal wars take place in the capital on a daily basis, while hostage taking and murders are also very common. At the end of 2006, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia and took the capital which led to the worst fighting seen in 15 years Anti-American sentiment is especially high in Mogadishu, so any American who is taken hostage is all but guaranteed to die. However, it really does not matter where you’re from as most militants here have no sympathy for their own citizens much less for any other nationality. Aid workers and journalists have been killed from all nations, and many times for apparently no reason. Anyone crazy enough to travel to Somalia is very likely to be targeted by extremists or criminals who know that they will face no consequences for their actions.
2) Afghanistan – With the past few decades of Afghanistan’s history filled with nothing but war, it’s not surprising that this country is one of the most dangerous in the world. Though the extremists certainly lost their stronghold on the entire country, remnants of the Taliban as well as other terrorists groups like Al Qaeda still operate in all parts of Afghanistan. Suicide bombings, hostage takings and other terrorist attacks are frequent in the capital, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Like Iraq, no one from any religion, race or country is immune to becoming a victim of kidnapping or violence in the country. Travelers will be targeted by Taliban and Al Qaeda militants as well as hard core criminals seeking financial gain or to make political statements. Any traveler who is unfortunate enough to be captured by any of these groups is likely to face a terrible death.
3) Mali – Once considered a famous legendary destination Mali’s image has been tarnished by several forces at hand. The country’s once relatively stable land began to decline into chaos as rebels in the north began to fight again for their independence. Travelers from all parts of the world who once frequently visited the beautiful Sahara deserts of Mali became scarce. The few that did venture to Mali disappeared only to surface up later in the hands of rebel groups or dead. Recently Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the situation and offered alliance to the rebel group in the north. They effectively drove out the government and immediately began to impose Sharia law. harsh restrictions on the populations, reports of stonings for those who do not obey, and destruction of ancient sites deemed not Islamic have led some experts to call Mali the Afghanistan of Africa. Many parts of the north such as Timbuktu have fallen into extremists hands making travel impossible. Finally to top everything off, the last place with some sanity in the capital fell victim to a coup leading to more chaos and further empowering the rebellious north. The new president took office of his troubled country and within weeks was nearly beaten to death by an angry mob. Travelers to this country face the general dangers of anarchy in the south, and terrorism and kidnapping in the north. Al Qaeda has even gone as far as to offer payment to locals for reporting foreigners. As these events all occurred in 2012 there is still sadly room for things to further deteriorate.
4) Iraq – Naturally lots of people point to Iraq as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to travel to. I was careful I didn’t choose this country simply because it’s all over the media, but because it is as dangerous as they say. Iraq actually was a relatively safe place to visit before, but after the U.S. invasion the country is now one of the most dangerous. Iraq earned its name on the list because no matter what religion, race, or country you are from, someone would like to see you dead. Several terrorist groups and militias plant bombs in markets and along the road sides and frequently take hostages and murder them. Usually you hear about a Westerner being taken hostage and beheaded in Iraq, but the Iraqis themselves have it much worse. Hundreds of foreigners have been taken hostage, but for each Westerner you hear about probably a dozen more Iraqis were taken as well. It’s not uncommon for police to discover dozens of Iraqi bodies at a time in a mass grave, usually showing signs of torture until they were finally killed. The people doing the hostage taking and killing are actually extremely organized and efficient at what they do, so as a traveler you’ll have a hard time keeping a low profile and outsmarting your enemies.
5) Yemen – While the western world sees the Yemeni government as a friend and ally in the fight against terror, several tribes and organizations in the country are unhappy with their government. Grievances range from being sympathetic to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or taking up arms and fighting the government for succession. Making the situation even more difficult, Yemen has one of the highest numbers in the world for having firearms readily available; which means nearly all tribes and a significant part of the population are armed and ready to go. While most car bombs are reserved for military and political targets, some terrorists where happy to make an exception when they drove one into a group of tourists from Spain who were traveling in a convoy killing all 7 tourists. With no western military or significant NGO presence in Yemen, travelers visiting this country will be getting all the unwanted attention from secessionists and terrorists.
6) Nigeria – While Nigeria is home to some of the most educated and brightest minds in Africa, it’s also plagued with every nightmare a nation could imagine. A major issue within Nigeria is the corruption by some government officials; despite all the challenges you are likely to face here, calling the police could make your situation even worse depending on who comes to your rescue. The largest cities are dominated by gangs, thieves, and con artists that have been so damaging and effective they have made Nigeria infamous worldwide. As a matter of fact, if you’re reading this, it would be unlikely that you have never been contacted by Nigerian scam artist sometime in the past decade. While gangs and corrupt officials may help run the cities, the rural areas of Nigeria are controlled by rebel forces and militias known for kidnappings of foreigners and occasionally having small battles with the government forces. With Nigeria split in half by a Christian and Muslim population, many civilians take their religious differences into their own hands by doing armed raids on other villages where hundreds of deaths are not uncommon. Even if you were to escape the mainland by taking a boat into the ocean, Nigeria’s waters are some of the most dangerous in the world in regards to pirates. And if all of this isn’t enough already, Islamic terrorist groups like Boko Haram operate in the country where they deploy suicide bombers, bomb government buildings, and other deadly acts.
|7) Central African Republic – The Central African Republic formed a transitional government in 2003 after the previous government had been overthrown through a military coup. The country remains very unstable and for the most part the entire nation is lawless. Central African republic is no second Somalia, but rebels and rogue troops that are located in all parts of the country often are known for ruthless tactics such as burning villages to the ground, setting up fake road blocks, highway banditry and other acts of violence. Military skirmishes occur very frequently while thousands of rebels attempt to take the capital. In the Central African Republic, traveling without security is actually said to be safer because armed escorts are almost always attacked on rural roads outside the capital. One group of Westerners traveled with the military only to drive into a fire storm of bullets when rebels unloaded on their convoy killing them along with their escorts. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the Central African Republic has virtually no international presence or even attention for that matter. Any traveler who ventures deep into the country will be entering a no man’s land where very few foreigners have ever traveled. The chance of returning back home safe and unharmed is slim to none.|
8) Pakistan – As we go down the list the risks of visiting these countries begin to get less severe. While Pakistan is a very diverse countryin terms of safety, visiting the border regions along Afghanistan are perhaps the most dangerous places on earth. Some of the most violent religious extremists in the world take refuge here. Brutal clashes with the Pakistani army are common while the region is constantly bombarded by U.S. drones. Foreigners that have been taken hostage in various parts of Pakistan are almost always brought to this militant safe haven. Meanwhile Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi is nearly lawless. Political assassinations and car bombings are literally a weekly occurrence. The city has one of the highest murder and kidnapping rates in the world and foreigners are seen as prime targets. Other parts of Pakistan see sectarian violence and general high rates of crime. Islamabad is seen as the safest area of the country, but even it suffered a massive truck bombing that targeted an international hotel claimed by Al Qaeda.
9) Haiti - Haiti has been in a situation similar to Somalia and Central African Republic for over a decade. Haiti was lucky enough to have its main violence coming not from powerful Islamic militants like Somalia or from experienced and heavily armed rebels armies surrounding its capital like in Central African Republic, but instead from smaller gangs, drug dealers, and other criminals. As the poorest country on this side of the earth, many have turned to violence and crime in these desperate times as a way to make ends meet. A large percentage of illegal drugs from South America is passed through the drug lords based in Haiti on its way to United States and Canada. Kidnapping of all races and nationalities is very common in Haiti as well as armed robbery and for some unfortunate victims murder. Travelers in Haiti are at risk of being targeted by criminal elements, many who believe there isn’t much morally wrong in taking something from a rich Westerner. Home break ins, car jacking, or fake road blocks set up by gangs are likely traps a traveler will run into, and most of the criminals will never hesitate to use violence and deadly force.
10) Sudan – Most people are aware of the atrocities committed in the Darfur area of western Sudan. In the west groups such as the Janjaweed roam the country and murder other races freely, while in other parts of the country are groups such as the Lord Resistance Army which was responsible for killing several international aid workers. Lawlessness and banditry are also common in the entire country. The capital was considered to be a ‘green zone’ in Sudan and was considered safe until 1600 rebels from the Darfur region made a bold attempt to enter in May 2008. Even approaching the Sudanese border proved dangerous to 11 European tourists in Egypt who were kidnapped by an armed group and immediately driven into Sudan. Anyone taking a vacation to Sudan puts themselves in risks of being a victim of terrorism, violent crime, or caught in between crossfire of the genocide or attacks by militias.