While traveling is one of the greatest joys humans have, certain places need you to take extra precautions. With frequent news stories of violence, kidnappings and gang warfare, it’s hard to ignore the reality that there are dangerous places to travel to.
If you have no idea what the most dangerous cities in the world are, don’t worry — this guide’s got you covered. It’s been compiled using data from the Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (MCPSCJ) and sources like The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Whether you’re looking at places to avoid when traveling or just want to stroke your curiosity, you’ll find some of the world’s most dangerous cities below.
37 Most Dangerous Cities in the World
Table of Contents
- 37 Most Dangerous Cities in the World
- 1. Zamora, Mexico
- 2. Ciudad Obregón, Mexico
- 3. Zacatecas, Mexico
- 4. Tijuana, Mexico
- 5. Celaya, Mexico
- 6. Caracas, Venezuela
- 7. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
- 8. Ensenada, Mexico
- 9. Uruapan, Mexico
- 10. St. Louis, United States of America
- 11. Kingston, Jamaica
- 12. Cape Town, South Africa
- 13. Feira de Santana, Brazil
- 14. Buenaventura, Colombia
- 15. Baltimore, United States of America
- 16. Colima, Mexico
- 17. Acapulco, Mexico
- 18. New Orleans, United States of America
- 19. Cuernavaca, Mexico
- 20. Memphis, United States of America
- 21. Mossoró, Brazil
- 22. Irapuato, Mexico
- 23. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
- 24. Cali, Colombia
- 25. Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
- 26. Detroit, United States of America
- 27. Fortaleza, Brazil
- 28. Durban, South Africa
- 29. Salvador, Brazil
- 30. Port Au Prince, Haiti
- 31. Manaus, Brazil
- 32. Guayaquil, Ecuador
- 33. Cleveland, The United States
- 34. Natal, Brazil
- 35. Chihuahua, Mexico
- 36. Fortaleza, Brazil
- 37. Morelia, Mexico
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Worst Cities in the World for Crime
- Which city has highest crime rate in world?
- What country has the highest crime rate?
- What is the Murder Capital of the World?
- Final Thoughts on the Most Dangerous Cities in the World
1. Zamora, Mexico
Image by Bruno Emmanuella from Unsplash
An awfully violent place, this Mexican city has unfortunately been ranked as the most violent city in the world. In 2021, Zamora recorded 610 murders for a per capita murder rate of 196.6 per 100,000 residents. This is the second-highest-ever homicide rate recorded by the MCPSCJ since it started recording data in 2008.
Most of the danger here stems from reported gang violence where rival factions clash against each other, as well as police and citizens. In addition to murder, Zamora is commonly plagued by kidnappings, extortion, and petty theft, among others.
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2. Ciudad Obregón, Mexico
Image from WikiCommons
Ciudad Obregon is found in the Mexican state of Sonora with a population of just over 300,000. In 2021, it was the second-most dangerous city in the world. It recorded a per capita murder of 155.77 per 100,000 inhabitants.
While a scenic city otherwise, Ciudad Obregon is a vital region in the world of crime. It’s been reported that the city plays a major role in the drug and human trafficking circle of crime. As a result, this has given rise to gang-related crime in a city that only first appeared on the list in 2014.
3. Zacatecas, Mexico
Image by Tania Gonzalez from Unsplash
In the world of travel, Zacatecas is best known for its adventure travel exploits and is one the best places to visit in Mexico. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In 2021, it ranked third on the list of unsafe places with a per capita murder rate of 107.47 per 100,000 people.
Like the above cities, Zacatecas has seen a surge in crime due to the widespread presence of organized crime and gang-related violence. It’s not uncommon for public shootouts and kidnappings to happen. Due to a reported lack of resources and corruption, law enforcement struggles to curb crime.
4. Tijuana, Mexico
Image by Gautam Krishnan from Unsplash
With a population of just over two million, Tijuana shares a border with the city of San Diego. It has previously been the most dangerous city in the world. Since then, it has slightly improved, slipping down to fourth in 2021.
This Mexican city recorded 2,124 homicides for the year, the country’s highest. However, its per capita murder rate of 103.19 per 100,000 inhabitants is fourth.
Tijuana is synonymous with poverty and thus violent crimes like kidnappings, rape, and the like. Crime is also fueled by gang violence between the Sinaloa and Tijuana cartels.
5. Celaya, Mexico
Image by Vibe Adventures from Unsplash
Celaya is found in Mexico’s Guanajuato state and has a population of just over 740,000 people, many of whom are model citizens. However, the many bad apples here have turned this central Mexican city into a crime zone.
The city suffers from high levels of violence, which led to its homicide rate of 100.92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most of the surge in crime can be attributed to increased gang violence. Gangs such as the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel fight for control of the city’s illegal activity.
6. Caracas, Venezuela
Image by Matthias Mullie from Unsplash
Venezuela is one of the most crime-infested countries in the world. Even worse, the majority of murders go unpunished due to a lack of resources and corruption in law enforcement.
So, it should come as no surprise that the country is home to one of the most dangerous cities in Caracas. The city saw 100 murders per 100,000 residents. The main cause of such violence is poverty and poor law enforcement in the city.
7. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Image by Alejandro Cartagena from Unsplash
With a population of just over 1.5 million people, Ciudad Juarez is the most populous city in the state of Chihuahua. While it’s well known along the Texas border for its electric nightlife, it has a dark side rampant with crime and murder.
Juarez, as it’s prominently known, has a homicide rate of 95.79 per 100,000 inhabitants. It has seen an uptick in femicide rates and is thus one of the worst cities for women. The city’s also a playground for gangs, with turf wars a common thing.
In addition to homicide, you would have to worry about crime like carjacking, burglaries, and petty theft.
8. Ensenada, Mexico
Image by Roman Lopez from Unsplash
Ensenada sits in the state of Baja California and is the seventh-most dangerous city in the world. It has a homicide rate of 75.79 murders per 100,000 persons.
The city’s main driver behind the violent crime is due to turf battles between several cartels. This includes the Sinaloa Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and the Arellano Felix Organisation.
In addition to homicide, human trafficking, burglaries, and carjacking are common.
9. Uruapan, Mexico
Image by Emmanuel Ibarra from Unsplash
Uruapan is another Mexican city that experiences violent crime that you won’t find in many other places. Situated in Michoacan, the city is a gang playground that sadly sees many clashes, most notably the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. These gangs mostly fight for control of the city’s drug trafficking routes.
This, along with robberies, carjackings, and kidnappings, has led to a homicide rate of 73.40 per 100,000 inhabitants.
10. St. Louis, United States of America
Image by Kawshar Ahmed from Unsplash
St. Louis is a bustling industrial city in the United States with an incredible atmosphere and a long list of attractions. It’s also home to several billion-dollar corporations, but it’s still one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and the world, especially outside the tourist zones.
With a population of just over 300,000, the city sees 65.32 get murdered for every 100,000 citizens in St. Louis. This is the highest figure in the US, and you’ll also find it rife in petty theft, armed robberies, and more.
The main causes of St. Louis’ crime rate are extreme poverty and unemployment.
11. Kingston, Jamaica
Image by Caidrro from Unsplash
The Caribbean is one of the most peaceful and safest regions in the world, therefore making it a prime tourist destination. However, there are a few exceptions, including Kingston, which is among the most dangerous cities in the world.
A mixture of organised crime, social inequality, and undermanned law enforcement have contributed to Kingston’s dangerous atmosphere. According to the MCPSCJ, the city had a murder rate of 64.17 murders per 100,000 people. It is known as the murder capital of the world.
Aside from homicide, you’d have to keep your eyes open for petty theft like pickpocketing, robberies, and the like as small-time criminals mostly target tourists.
12. Cape Town, South Africa
Image by Tobias Reich from Unsplash
Cape Town is the embodiment of “two worlds in one area”. One side is a tourist haven full of attractions, while the other is a warzone filled with violence.
As a result, Cape Town is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It leads the way with the most murders, coming in at 2,911 homicides. However, due to the population of over four million, it has per capita murder rate of 62.22 per 100,000 citizens.
Most crime results from the presence of over 100 gangs in the city, many of which are involved in the drug trade, armed robberies, and more.
13. Feira de Santana, Brazil
Image by Gabriel Santos from Unsplash
Feira de Santana is a Brazilian city known for its vibrant culture. However, it has recently been attracting attention for another reason — its high crime rates.
This city has reported some of the highest rates of murder and street crime in Brazil in recent years. But, how has this once-prominent travel destination declined so much?
The city’s fallen prey to organised gangs operating unchecked and a lax effort from law enforcement due to a lack of resources. As a result, Feira de Santana had a murder rate of 61.21 per 100,000 people.
Image by Vladimir Oprisko from Unsplash
Buenaventura has a long and horrific history of drug trafficking, violence, and murders due to the existence of rival cartels. Unfortunately, this seems like it will only continue as it’s still listed among the most dangerous cities in the world.
Being a port city, rival gangs have been engaged in decades-long wars to seize control of this strong position for drug trading. It has a homicide rate of 59.33 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Most of the city’s 300,000-some citizens live in poverty and have been swallowed by crime, with corruption letting crime run rampant. Other than murders, Buenaventura has high rates of sexual violence and violent protests.
15. Baltimore, United States of America
Image by Irina Sitnikova from Unsplash
Baltimore is an amazing city with a lovely culture, stunning architecture, and electric nightlife. However, this splendor alone isn’t enough to paper over its dangerous atmosphere.
The city has a long-standing reputation for being sketchy, and it’s one of the unsafest cities in the world. Also a port city, a large portion of its crime is related to drug trafficking and petty thieves from poverty-stricken areas. Nearly 25% of residents live below the poverty line.
These conditions have led to the city’s homicide rate of 57.54 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
16. Colima, Mexico
Image by Sergio Ortiz from Unsplash
Colima is a city in the state it shares a name with, which has long been one of the most violent states in Mexico. The Port of Manzanillo is found here, a coveted asset for drug trafficking that is the leading cause of gang activity. Cartels like the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa Cartels are the major parties involved in turf wars.
The rampant crime has led to a murder rate of 59.11 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
17. Acapulco, Mexico
Image by Alberto Bazan from Unsplash
Acapulco, a Mexican resort town, is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. This is thanks to sandy beaches, luxurious hotels, and unending entertainment. Sadly it is also one of the most dangerous cities in the world outside of tourist-heavy areas, and even those places aren’t entirely safe.
According to the MCPSCJ, Acapulco recorded 445 murders in 2021, leading to a 56.84 per capita murder rate. The leading cause for such figures is the drug war between rival gangs, alongside crimes like extortion, hijackings, etc.
18. New Orleans, United States of America
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New Orleans is globally renowned for lively music, colorful parades, and mouthwatering food. But there’s a dark side to The Big Easy: around 56.77 people die for every 100,000 inhabitants.
The American city has parts rife with poverty, drug abuse, and violence that you’d do best to avoid. This includes Desire, Central City (in the evenings), and Saint Roch.
Pickpocketing, carjackings, armed robberies, and break-ins are the leading causes of crime here.
Image by IlianaLo from Pixabay
Cuernavaca is another of Mexico’s most dangerous cities, and it’s found in the state of Morelos. It has a murder rate of 55.83 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
The large presence of organised crime is mostly responsible for the violence here. Drug trafficking is rampant in the city, meaning gangs fight and kill while vying for territory. Furthermore, poverty is widespread in Cuernavaca, which leads to everyday people, including children, turning to crime out of desperation.
20. Memphis, United States of America
Image by Joshua Cotten from Unsplash
Memphis has an image of a beautiful city set along the Mississippi River and full of splendor. But behind this image lies a long history of violence and crime aided by an insufficient education system and few economic opportunities.
This is due to widespread poverty, drug abuse, gang activity, and a lack of resources being afforded to law enforcement. As a result, Memphis has a 54.65 murder rate per 100,000 residents.
21. Mossoró, Brazil
Image by WikiCommons
Mossoró is a rapidly-growing city that has its share of dangers. Unfortunately, the city can be quite dangerous due to its high crime rate and poor socio-economic conditions.
The area is known for drug trafficking and other gang-related crimes like robbery and assault. Combine that with ill-equipped law enforcement, and you get a murder rate of 54.64 per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, crime isn’t the only reason behind Mossoró being unsafe. The city also has a lackluster health care system despite frequent outbreaks of illnesses like the Zika virus.
22. Irapuato, Mexico
Image by Mike Ramirez from Pixabay
Irapuato is renowned for its natural beauty, which attracts thousands to the city. It is home to over 850,000 people, but it also happens to be an incredibly dangerous city.
It has a per capita homicide rate of 53.79 per 100,000 inhabitants. Like other Mexican cities, the increased crime is a result of turf wars between gangs like the Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco New Generation Cartels.
The most prominent crime, apart from murder, includes kidnappings, extortion, and mass shootings. Local law enforcement have struggled to deal with the crime and turned to the federal government for help, but crime still continues to rip through the city.
23. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
Image by WikiCommons
Despite being named after one of the most peaceful leaders of the past 100 years, the Bay area named for Nelson Mandela is anything but peaceful. Sure, it’s home to plenty of incredible attractions but It is an incredibly dangerous place to be. The city has some of the highest violent crime rates in the world.
Nelson Mandela Bay has high rates of theft, vehicle hijacking, and violent crimes like robbery and assault. While many don’t lead to deaths, the city still has an alarming homicide rate. According to the MCPSCJ, about 52.30 people die for every 100,000 inhabitants.
24. Cali, Colombia
Image by Alexis Tuil from Unsplash
In spite of its lively atmosphere, Cali is a city with widespread poverty and limited resources. This leads to many citizens turning to crime, creating an unsafe environment.
Additionally, Cali’s location 100 kilometres from the Pacific Coast has opened the city up to drug traffickers. These cartels are not only involved in the drug trade, but they also do kidnappings and killings. This, combined with a weak rule of law, led to a 52.24 homicide rate.
25. Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Image by WikiCommons
Vitoria da Conquista in southeast Brazil has seen its fair share of crime in recent years, enough to be called one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Like many Brazilian cities, the city has to combat gang activity and high poverty levels for its safety.
Drug and weapons trafficking by gangs, car thefts, home break-ins, and petty theft are rampant. This has led to a 50.34 murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants. Police are also ill-equipped to help locals, and visitors like yourself should you fall victim to crime.
26. Detroit, United States of America
Image by Doug Zuba from Unsplash
Despite being known for its manufacturing industry, Detroit is considered a dangerous city. According to the MCPSCJ, the American city saw 48.35 murders for every 100,000 residents.
Crimes like murder, robbery, and larceny-theft are the driving forces behind this city being so unsafe. It doesn’t help that the city has seen increased inequality between its prominent neighborhoods and those that are struggling. Those without the proper resources turn to crime for sustenance, creating a dangerous environment.
27. Fortaleza, Brazil
Image by Rafael Alves from Unsplash
Fortaleza has a population of just over four million great people and features a number of popular attractions. Unfortunately, these are overshadowed by the city’s high levels of crime.
Despite declining murder rates, Fortaleza remains one of the most dangerous places in the world. The homicide rate dropped from 83.5 murders to 69 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, which was still alarming. In 2021, this further dropped to 44.71 homicides per 100,000 people.
There are areas with limited and corrupt police services, high levels of poverty, gang activity that are the leading causes for this crime rate.
28. Durban, South Africa
While Durban is known for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture, it also has high crime rates. Issues such as robbery, assault, and murder are particularly prevalent in its population of 4,050,968. The city experienced 2,405 murders over a year, with a homicide rate of 59.37 per 100,000 residents.
29. Salvador, Brazil
Salvador’s rich cultural history contrasts sharply with its current crime challenges. Gang-related violence and high homicide rates have marred this otherwise picturesque city with a population of 3,678,414. There were 2,085 murders over 12 months, giving it a homicide rate of 56.68 per 100,000 residents.
30. Port Au Prince, Haiti
The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, has faced many challenges, from natural disasters to political unrest. These factors and extreme poverty have contributed to high crime rates, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
Port-au-Prince has a population of 2,915,000. Over 12 months there were 1,596 murders, giving the city a homicide rate 54.75.
31. Manaus, Brazil
Situated in the heart of the Amazon, Manaus is a gateway to the world’s largest rainforest. Unfortunately, it’s also been plagued by violent crimes, often connected to drug trade routes. Manaus has a population of 2,054,731. With 1,041 murders over 12 months, the city has a homicide rate 50.66.
32. Guayaquil, Ecuador
As Ecuador’s main port, Guayaquil plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy. However, the city has been battling theft, assault, and murder for years. The town has quite a large population of 3,141,793. Over 12 months there were 1,537 murders, with a homicide rate of 47.77 per 100,000 residents.
33. Cleveland, The United States
Cleveland has often been cited among American cities for its above-average crime rates. While many parts of the city thrive, certain areas suffer economic deprivation and associated crimes.
The city has a population of 367,991 and had 168 murders over 12 months, giving it a homicide rate of 45.65 per 100,000 residents.
34. Natal, Brazil
Another city in Brazil’s northeast, Natal, is known for its beaches but also faces severe challenges related to violent crime, much of which is gang-related. There were 569 murders in Natal over 12 months, giving it a 45.06 murder rate for its population of 1,262,741.
35. Chihuahua, Mexico
In northern Mexico, Chihuahua is a critical location in drug trafficking routes to the U.S. This strategic position has brought violence and high crime rates to the city. Its homicide rate is 43.84 per 100,000 residents. This is the equivalent of 414 murders yearly in a population of 944,413.
36. Fortaleza, Brazil
With stunning coastal views, Fortaleza is a popular destination for many. However, it’s also witnessed escalating violence, making it one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil. Fortaleza has a homicide rate of 42.63 per 100,000 residents or 1,678 murders yearly in its population of 3,936,509.
37. Morelia, Mexico
The capital of the state of Michoacán, Morelia has been a battleground for rival drug cartels. This has resulted in high rates of violent crimes and kidnappings. With a population of 853,831, it has a homicide rate of 42.05 per 100,000 people.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Worst Cities in the World for Crime
Which city has highest crime rate in world?
According to Wikipedia, Colima in Mexico has the highest crime rate in the world.
What country has the highest crime rate?
According to World Population Review, Venezuela has the highest crime rate at 83.76 crimes per 100,000 people.
What is the Murder Capital of the World?
Jamaica has 44.95 murders per 100,000 people, making it the place with the most murders in the world.
Final Thoughts on the Most Dangerous Cities in the World
So what is the most dangerous city in the world? It depends on which data you choose to use. And now that you know the most dangerous cities in the world, what will you do with this information? Will you take extra precautions if you find yourself in one of these places? Or maybe you’re now more curious about these areas and want to learn more.
Either way, we hope this article provided some helpful or interesting information. Let me know in the comments below what you think about the most dangerous cities in the world.