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. So far Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Yemen have been checked off. As the world is a dynamic place the stability of countries can literally change overnight. Some of these countries such as Sudan and Haiti should honestly be removed from my list while others should be added, but because I feel like I'd be chasing my own tail I want to complete my original 10 list and then make changes. 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. Any traveler trying to visit Mali would need some serious managed hosting from locals and a reliable security detail. 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 detoriate
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 country in 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 secretarian 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.
|Ryan from USA: Haiti was the only "hotspot" in the western hemisphere? What about Colombia, Brazil, Mexico or El Salvador? Constant gang warfare, heavily armed guerilla armies, certain cities and regions that are basically completely under the control of drug lords, high rates of violent crime, and rampant commercial kidnapping occur in all these place.|
I'm not sure which countries on your top 10 list I would replace, though. Perhaps Yemen or Pakistan. Yemen has become home to some violent extremists including members of Al Qaeda, but in general the people there are still a peace-loving simple people and the Western-friendly Yemeni government has better control over its own country than Mexico has over many of its border towns. In Pakistan if you stay away from the border region which you mentioned, the major cities are still pretty safe- though as religious extremism continues to gain ground there it is becoming more and more dangerous for foreigners and non-Muslims. Currently, though, I would feel safer in Islamabad than I would in Bogota or San Salvador.
|George I used the word only "real" hot spot since when I refer to Haiti since I'm talking about the travel conditions as a whole in that country. Basically what I mean by this is that the travel problems that one might come across in Haiti aren't limited to specific cities, where as Mexico, Brazil and even Colombia have large areas that are visited by travelers and have relatively low risk of problems. This is different for every person of course, but for me personally I realize there is a risk of getting killed on a trip like Afghanistan or Yemen. If I were to visit Colombia or Brazil I'd be concerned about getting robbed, but never coming home again?, not so much. I don't feel that's so likely in Latin America. Brazil is one of the biggest international destinations with their carnival and beaches, Mexico even now somehow is still in the top 10 tourist destination in the world, and Colombia who receives 2 millions tourists a year, with the vast majority of these travelers returning without any issues. So yes, there are several latin American cities where you might be safer in Islamabad, Pakistan, or Kurdistan Iraq, but as a whole these countries are possible to visit and pose little risks for travelers who don't explore drug war zones of Mexico, ghettos of Brazil, or farc controlled areas of Colombia. So while I completely agree with you with you referring to the problems in the countries you mentioned, like you said these are in certain cities and region and I don't think it's anything the average traveler has to worry about. El Salvador on the other hand, I'd put right behind Haiti in terms of safety for general travelers.|
|Intu from Indonesia: Hi George, your trips are interesting and even the most difficult places become very nice places to visit. I also do some of these trips but mostly for helping people on conservation of their environment (including Sudan, DRCongo, Central African Republic etc). They said if we wait till the war is finish, there won't be anything left to conserve, because most war is actually fighting over natural resources and land. I agree there are so many beautiful and amazing places in this world, we better continue to go there, this helps to show that they exist. If your next trip is Indonesia, for me this is the best country of course (I am originally from here) :-) and I visit Papua often. There are so many islands that are amazing as well though, so if you can, go for Borneo, Mentawai, Sulawesi, Lamalera, Komodo, Lombok, Derawan, Wakatobi, Sumba, Flores... and plenty more.|
|Matt from USA: I don't know, George...I'm sure Haiti is rough, but the recent devastating earthquake has brought thousands of foreign aid workers, and I haven't heard much about locals repaying their kindnesses with savagery. I believe Guatemala is the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere with the most murders per capita, and it's certainly the worst in Central America. Also, I'm married to a Salvadorean, and I frequently travel to El Salvador with her, and there are times when I'm really uncomfortable. So Haiti might be the poorest country in the western hemisphere(not by much), but I doubt it's the most dangerous, especially as of 2011.|
|Bec form Australia: Sorry Matt, but I agree with George on the Haiti issue. It's extremely dangerous, especially during 2010, with thousands of prisoners escaping from the gaols during the earthquake, and violently taking over the slums. I must admit it has gotten a little bit better recently, though.|
|Chelsea from USA: Hey George, I stumbled across this blog and am incredibly impressed. I too have a passion for traveling; although I would love to visit these countries, I doubt that I will be able to to in the near future. However, it is lovely to vicariously experience these exotic and beautiful places through your blog. Thank you!|
|Johng from USA: Good Afternoon George, although wherever you are I'm sure its not the afternoon! I stumbled upon your blog while surfing today, and I think your quest is awe inspiring. I have a love for far away places, but I scarcely get the chance to explore the boonies overseas. After college, my friend and I plan to motorcycle through Africa, from north to south. It should be the cats pajamas, as your trips seem like they've been|
|George: Awesome John! Any idea which countries you want to pass through? That will certainly be a journey of a lifetime; good luck and stay safe!|
|Ted from UK: Agree about the old Zaire (Congo DR), it was an eye opener and very dangerous. But the Virunga National Park has to be the most stunning place in the World. Glad I've been in it - but more pleased I escaped in one piece. The most memorable 7 months I've lived anywhere.|
|Bryan from USA: Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico are all more dangerous than Haiti. Cite D'Soleil is dangerous. PAP is dangerous at night. Been to Central America and Haiti multiple times and have many Haitian and Central American friends.|
|Satvik from India: I agree I saw this all in history and one show international terrorism since 1945|
|Jack from USA: Have you ever been to South Africa? It's as dangerous as it can get for a white-colored person.|
|George: Hi Jack, I have been to South Africa and I personally see it as a normal travel destination. There is no arguing that it has extremely high crime rates in many parts of the country, but you also have to remember 1 out of 5 people are already white that live in South Africa, and it has millions of tourists a year. When I visited I met hundreds of Europeans and Americans who all had no issues and some were living in the country, many of them were on family vacations with young kids. With that said I don't consider South Africa a risky or dangerous destination, just a trip where you will have to be more careful about which parts you travel to and take extra precautions.|
|Lucky from South Africa: Jack, South Africa has crime just like your very own USA but u cannot include it in the most dangerous places to visit, that's absurd maybe u had a bad experience but I can also come to detroit and have a bad experience but I won't say USA is bad. By the way there are a lot of white people leaving in South Africa so don't make this about race. My country attracts a lot of tourists and has the best constitution you could ever find anywhere in the world. We have our challenges like any country but we can't be a "dangerous" place that one I disagree. Last year we had one spectacular world cup without any major incidents despite all the bad press from the west prior to the world cup. Please come again. God Bless Africa.|
|Michael from UK: I think Libya or Liberia should be on the list because, of Libyan Leader Colonel Mummar Gaddafi 41 Year rule and the rebel fighting in Liberia.|
|George: Libya isn't a nation I'm worried about visiting even though there has been a civil war or rebellion against the government. Of course I wouldn't visit Ghaddafi controlled areas but being that the rebels occupy the majority of the country I personally don't feel threatened by them or that I would be randomly kidnapped killed by others. Liberia on the other hand I agree is a difficult and dangerous place to travel. The US government removed it from the list of countries to not travel to and how they made this decision is beyond me. Supposedly Liberia is getting more stable but I do agree it might be more dangerous than a country like Haiti or Sudan|
|Perri from Canada: Israel is beautiful and safe.|
|Donnie from USA: Libya maybe ok if your white , but if your dark skinned , black. You may be in trouble , from usa backed forces. We just started a whole new mess over there.|
|Samuel from Ghana: I think South Africa, Colombia should be added and maybe Libya because these countries have serious bad records in terms of murder, armed robbery, war etc.to me these countries should be on the list.|
|Khwezi: samuel u fool south africa isnt in war for like since apertheid ended|
|Hamza from Afghanistan: As i read the list above i find out the afghanistan is still no 1 dangrous country of the world. Media is saying that the goverment has control over it but i saw and know that they have no control over it.Still Taliban and al qaida and haqani network has the control over it and even lots of it soliders are working in the present goverment and as the US forces withdraw from it so there will once again a bloody fight for power and the taliban waill again take the control of the country and they will rule in there way again there will be no law and no peace in it so as far as i consider i think till the world remain there will be fighting in afghanistan and it will never stop|
|Jeffery from USA: hi george, I must agree somalia is the dangerous country on earth, I think it will be a good country|
|Uche from Nigeria: What about northern nigeria. Boko Haram issue is rily getn worse day by day|
|Rober from Czech Republic: Hi George, I like your ranking but I have to strongly disagree on your comments regarding Libya. It was very safe country during the Kaddafi. I have visited and did not experienced any problem. There was basically no crime there. But I do not know if US citizens were normally allowed there. Regarding the current situation I would not go there now but after some time it can be again safe. But be sure that some people may hate US or UK citizens.|
|Abdirahman from UK: Somalia is the most dangerous place in the world.|
|Tjaart from South Africa: The ratio is 1 white person per 6 black people. I have done my homework on that and trust me, we do NOT have a good constitution in terms of politics and government at all. Don't get me wrong, I love my country, but it can most definitely improve!|
|Mohamed from Iraq: I think Iraq should be number 1 on the list ...|
|Wilma from USA: I do not believe you truly know how dangerous a country is unless you live there for a good amount of time. It is not going to be the same thing if you just visit the country for some time. It will also depend on what part of the country you decide you decide to live. In El Salvador you will not have any buses operating after 7 o'clock in the night as it is to dangerous because of the gangs. There are people who will not go to far from the main city as there could be gang activity. Many people in El Salvador do not answer their phone after 7, as it could be a gang who wants to take over their ouse for the night You will not truly know of all these dangerous unless you live in the country. If you are simply a tourist, many of these dangerous will not cross your path.|
|George: I agree that you won't truly understand how dangerous a country is unless you actually live there. But this is true about every aspect of a country; you won't know the politics, culture, language etc unless you're a resident. I do somewhat disagree that it is less dangerous as a traveler rather than a resident. If you are living in a dangerous country you are more likely to have problems simply because the longer duration gives more opportunity to misfortunes. You are also more likely to be known by criminal or dangerous elements that have the luxury of time to made some type of attack or kidnapping attempt. As a traveler however, you are generally traveling without any kind of support or infrastructure. Someone living in a foreign country will generally have several resources such as their company, frequently given security updates, locals they work with, sometimes provided armed escorts etc. A traveler is forced to figure all these things out themselves. In addition most people living in a country tend to stay within the greater region of their city. Travelers often go solo through border crossings, rural roads, and cross in and out of several different parts of the country rather than staying in one place. Many travelers have been killed in Yemen. For example, seven where killed when a suicide bomber attacked a group from Spain while visiting some ruins. Other Europeans and Koreans where taken hostage on a road trip north which resulted in several of their deaths. Other travelers where also killed while visiting places outside the capital. Of course there were embassy attacks and government workers who were targeted as well. So in summary I believe both residents and travelers share equal risks just under different circumstances.|
|Hameed from Sierra Leonoe: What about Sierra Leone?|
|Ross from Canada: don't know if you know george but the murder rate for tourists and other non-natives in colombia in recent years is remarkably high for a country with a recognised tourist infrastructure (colombians tend to not mention these incidents). for a country with only 2 million tourists and a small ex-pat community it's scandalous, the foreign murder rate is many times higher than jamaica, south africa or the us and many of these deaths have been random street robberies. i would not have believed this had my friend not pointed out to me the news sites where these stories are. two yanks have been shot and killed in medellin (i believe it's medellin) in just the last few weeks. crazy! your list is excellent though, but i'd put sudan higher. syria's recent situation would possibly push it into the list, not sure when you made it. cheers!|
|George: Thanks Ross. I have researched the story you mentioned and found you are right. Two Americans and a Britian were shot and killed in Medellin all on separate incidents. Also in the same time period a Spanish tourist was killed in Barranquilla. These events show there is no doubt that Colombia is a dangerous destination. The question now is Colombia in the top 10 most dangerous places to visit? It can be difficult to answer but I think it's not. Remember I traveled to Colombia earlier this year and I still believe there are places in this world that are much worse than Colombia.|
Traveling in the Most Dangerous Countries
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