We live in a world where anyone can reach any destination from any part of the place within hours. In a way, the world is really small. But is it safe? A society without crime is something we call utopian society, where there is equality in every way possible. However, it is something that cannot be achieved, at least not in the near future.
The widespread economic and political imbalances around the world has led to the creation of regions that are prosperous and are considered mostly safe. Then there are regions that are failing and unsafe.
Below, we have compiled a list of most dangerous places in the world, where violent crimes, such as homicide and kidnappings, are widespread.
12. Ciudad Juarez
A group of children stand behind a crime scene in Ciudad Juarez on February 18, 2011 | Image Courtesy: REUTERS/Gael Gonzalez
Ciudad Juarez, or simply Juarez, is one of the largest cities on the U.S-Mexico border. Due to its size and location, the city is a major corridor for trade and transportation between the two North American nations. However, it is also known for violent crimes, frequent cartel, and gang conflicts.
Juarez was once regarded as the world’s most dangerous city due to uncontrolled gang wars (most notably between Sinaloa Cartels and Juarez Cartel) and other violent crimes. In 2008, Juarez had the highest homicide rate in the world — 130 people per 100,000 inhabitants, ahead of Caracas. The city, however, registered a 70 percent decrease in homicide cases by 2013.
During the heights of the drug wars, around 2010, the presence of Mexican Federal Police and Armed Forces was increased to curb the violence. Unfortunately, it gave rise to human rights violations in the city.
Durban Harbor | Image Courtesy: Chris Eason/Flickr
Country: South Africa
Despite being one of the most developed nations in the African continent, South Africa’s cities are considered to be among the most dangerous places to live. Cities like Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town have high violent crime rates, while theft is common.
Throughout the 1990s, Durban and its surrounding areas recorded a high number of homicide cases. The rate declined for a decade before surging again throughout 2010.
Durban is a major corridor for smuggling drugs in and out of Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past two decades, the drug trade has increased significantly in the region.
10. Cape Town
The neighborhood of Manenberg in Cape Town | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Country: South Africa, Africa
The South African city of Cape Town (legislative capital), like other major cities, is suffering from an increasing number of criminal activities, including drug-related crime and gang violence. Despite its rapidly growing economy and a popular tourist destination, violent crime in Cape Town is widespread. However, it is steadily declining.
The homicide rate in Cape Town is high (about 63 persons per 100.000 inhabitants as of 2020). Back in September 2019, Nigerian Vice President boycotted Africa Economy Summit, which was held in Cape Town, over anti-foreigner riots taking place in South African cities. The riots have resulted in the death of a large number of foreigners.
The suburban areas of Cape Town are the epicenter of crime in the city. In Cape Flats, located southeast of the central city, there are over 130 different gangs that are often engaged in violent conflicts.
A recent surge in South African national leaving the country is mostly attributed to increasing crime and corruption in the cities. As a whole, South Africa is considered to be the second most dangerous place to live for an ex-pat.
9. St. Louis
Anti-violence protesters at North Grand Avenue, St. Louis on June 2, 2018 | Image Courtesy: HAHLA FARZAN | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO
Country: United States, North America
St. Louis is the second-largest and an independent city in Missouri, United States. It has one of the highest crime rates (per hundred thousand inhabitants) in the country. Since the mid-1990s, St. Louis is constantly ranked as one of the most dangerous places to live.
In 2017, about 66 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants were registered, that’s about ten times more than the national average.
Despite its violent history, however, St. Louis has been and continues to be an attraction for business and startups. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, between 2000 and 2014, about 15,000 college graduates moved into the city, making it one of the most popular destinations for working millennials.
8. Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinean children during White Ribbon Day (For Elimination of Violence against Women) March | Image Courtesy: DFAT
Papua New Guinea is a sovereign nation located north of Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It occupies the eastern side of New Guinea Island.
The country is considered by many as the worst place in the world for women. According to a 2013 study published in The Lancet, about 27 percent of men in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville Island have raped a non-partner, while 14 percent have committed gang rape.
Papua New Guinea also has a history of ‘witch’ hunts. According to an estimate, as much as 150 alleged witches (mostly women) are killed every year.
Corruption and police brutality is widespread in the country. According to the Human Rights Watch organization, abuses by security forces in the country are rarely prosecuted or even acknowledged.
United States (left) and Mexico (right) Border fence in Tijuana | Image Courtesy: U.S DOD
Tijuana is the largest city in the state of Baja California, and the sixth-largest in Mexico. Due to its strong economy, Tijuana has a strong influence on the nation’s politics, transportation, and tourism. Unfortunately, the city is also leading in kidnappings, homicides, and overall crime rates.
The city is the birthplace of Tijuana Cartel, once regarded as Mexico’s biggest and most dangerous drug cartel. Gang-related crimes in the city reached its height between 2007 and 2013, while homicide rates went up by 48 percent.
As of 2020, Tijuana has one of the highest per-capita homicide rate in the world at 85 per 100,000 people.
6. Natal and Fortaleza
Detention in Brasilia, Brazil
Country: Brazil, South America
Crime in Brazil is dangerously high. According to various sources, the South American nation has the highest rate of violent crimes, including kidnappings and homicides. According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), Brazil has the 15th highest intentional homicide victim rate in the world.
Gang violence is rampant in Brazil and is often targeted against government security officials and local police. Drug trafficking has increased rapidly in the country over the last few years.
Large Brazilian cities like Natal and Fortaleza have one of the highest crime rates in the country. They have the fourth-highest and seventh-highest homicide rate per 100,000 population in the world, respectively.
Other cities such as Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo are infamous for Express Kidnappings, where people are kidnapped after withdrawing funds from ATMs.
A group of protesters vandalizing a bus during the Caracazo | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Country: Venezuela, South America
Caracas is the largest city and the capital of Venezuela, located in the northern coast of South America. The city has a violent past, and its crime rates are much higher than the total average of the country. Serious crimes such as kidnapping are rampant.
It has the second-highest murder rate in the world. The increasing crime rate in the country and the city is primarily attributed to the deep-rooted political instability starting from the presidency of Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s. Hunger and economic imbalances played a significant role in large scale violence throughout the nation.
According to sources, about 98 percent of crimes in the country remain unprosecuted.
4. Los Cabos
Port of Cabo San Lucas | Image Courtesy: Thelmadatter/Wikipedia Commons
Los Cabos is a municipality in Mexico’s Baja California Sur State. Historically, the region has been affected by drug-related and gang violence. The violence is concentrated in poor communities in Los Cabos, while it mostly eludes tourist spots and resorts.
The municipality of Los Cabos is an important drug-smuggling corridor, and to gain control of the region, local gangs often resort to violence. It is one of the biggest contributing factors to rising homicide rates in the state.
In 2016, reports of gang violence increased dramatically in Los Cabos and surrounding areas following the arrest of drug lord Joaquin Guzman, nicknamed “El Chapo.”
A UN Peacekeeper in the Abu Shouk IDP Camp in Darfur, Sudan
The Republic of Sudan, or simply Sudan, is a northeast African nation with the third-largest population in the continent. Like most other Sub-Saharan countries, crime is rampant in Sudan and has its fair share of political and social unrest.
The Second Sudanese Civil War, which officially ended in 2005, has significantly weakened the nation’s economy leading to widespread economic disparity. According to an estimate, as much as 200,000 people were enslaved during the war.
The Darfur region of Sudan is, without a doubt, one of the most dangerous places in the world. A major armed conflict that broke out in the region in 2003 resulted in deaths of at least 500,000 people by 2010.
The War in Darfur caused a major humanitarian crisis which came to limelight in 2010 when the International Criminal Court indicted Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and genocide in the country.
Poverty, hunger, and corruption make Sudan a perfect place for crime to grow.
Somalia Police Force officers at the crime scene for investigation | Image provided by State Department
For those who aren’t aware, Somalia is an African nation situated on the east coast surrounded by the Gulf of Aden to the north, Somali Sea to the east, and Ethiopia to the east.
Somalia is amidst a civil war that broke nearly three decades ago. The Somali Civil War is a result of a power struggle between different political factions. It is considered one of the bloodiest, if not the bloodiest, conflicts since the Second World War.
Over the years, large-scale military operations in the country have resulted in civilian deaths and human rights violations. Most of these military efforts, in recent times, are directed towards Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.
The U.S Department of State advises its citizens not to travel Somalia due to the high risk of civil unrest, terrorist attacks, and kidnappings in the country.
The view of Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square in Aleppo, Syria after it was targeted in 2012 | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
According to the 2019 Global Peace Index Rankings, Syria is the second least peaceful nation in the world. The country is currently experiencing one of the deadliest civil wars of recent times. The ongoing multi-sided Syrian Civil War can be described as a proxy war due to the involvement of multiple foreign countries.
Syria also has a strong presence of militant groups that are taking an active part in the civil war. Long term political instability caused by the civil war has made important Syrian cities such as Aleppo a war zone. Syria’s capital, Damascus, was named the world’s least livable city in 2019.
Since the start of the civil war, at least 400,000 people have been killed in Syria. As of June 2020, close to 5.6 million Syrian nationals have taken asylum in other countries, while 6.2 million people have displaced internally.