Determining the most dangerous countries in the world isn’t as straightforward as one might first expect. For one thing, it’s obvious that war zones are especially dangerous, and most people wouldn’t venture there if they had a choice in the matter.
When you try to mitigate that factor, though, some interesting names pop up. For this list, we’re looking at countries that are not technically at war. So regions like Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other conflict zones are largely omitted.
However, taking into account the civilian gun death rate seems like a fair metric to consider. This affects locals and tourists alike, and non-military personnel specifically. On those terms, here are the 25 most dangerous countries in the world (and their gun death stats), in no particular order.
What Makes a Country Dangerous?
Table of Contents
- What Makes a Country Dangerous?
- 25 Most Dangerous Countries in the World
- 1. United States Virgin Islands
- 2. The Bahamas
- 3. Puerto Rico
- 4. Brazil
- 5. Honduras
- 6. Colombia
- 7. Guatemala
- 8. Venezuela
- 9. Ecuador
- 10. Iraq
- 11. Costa Rica
- 12. Paraguay
- 13. Philippines
- 14. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- 15. El Salvador
- 16. Saint Lucia
- 17. Haiti
- 18. Jamaica
- 19. Guyana
- 20. Panama
- 21. Saint Kitts and Nevis
- 22. Dominican Republic
- 23. Belize
- 24. Trinidad and Tobago
- 25. Mexico
- Final Thoughts on Most Dangerous Countries in the World
Bear in mind that depending on how you wish to measure such a list, your result may vary greatly. You might even find odd connections between this list and what most consider the most dangerous cities in the world.
In some cases, insurgent activity, gang activity, and poor policing have much to do with it. Overall, though, it does seem like abject levels of poverty and wealth inequality are common factors in all of the below.
25 Most Dangerous Countries in the World
1. United States Virgin Islands
Gun death rate: 19.29 per 100k
Petty crime is rife in the Virgin Islands, and the US and Canadian advisory service regularly issues travel warnings. Visitors are advised never to travel alone around the cities at night. They are also advised to never isolate themselves for being at risk of mugging, robbery, assault, or worse.
The US Virgin Islands have a seriously high gun death rate per 100 000 people, given its size.
2. The Bahamas
Gun death rate: 19.72 per 100k
Freeport and Nassau are regularly cited as crime hotspots in the Bahamas. Violent crime is common, with robbery, armed robbery and kidnappings frighteningly common. While more severe crimes like kidnapping and murder affect residents more, it is unwise to assume they will not happen to tourists.
The Bahamas has a strong gang culture, affecting general safety in impoverished and urban areas. Visiting tourists are frequently advised to keep to the resorts and certified safe zones, if possible.
3. Puerto Rico
Gun death rate: 19.72 per 100k
Although Puerto Rico is considered one of the safer islands in the Caribbean, it is economically challenged, which invites criminal activity. Gang and drug activity is common, though it primarily affects locals.
Another factor to remember about Puerto Rico is that it is still in the grips of the devastation of Hurricane Fiona. This has left several facilities, locations, and establishments in poorer condition than they might have wished. That said, situations like these usually increase petty crime and assault. Be sure not to be alone after dark, especially in isolated areas of the cities.
Gun death rate: 20.8 per 100k
Alarmingly, one statistical study comparing Brazil and the US ranked Brazil the most dangerous country in terms of the murder rate. This is despite the US rates being top in terms of violent gun crime.
Most experts agree that the vast gap in income inequality contributes to the country’s high crime rates. The violent crime rates are also exacerbated by the gang culture present in the country, stemming from the prison system. Drug trafficking, amongst other things, is prevalent in impoverished areas.
Gun death rate: 21.22 per 100k
Honduras has an alarming homicide rate partly because of the strong gun culture. Violent crime against women is of particular concern here, with femicide rates at one point measuring one every 36 hours. As with most such situations, tourism authorities argue that most violent crime does not directly affect tourists.
However, muggings, armed robberies and assaults do happen and cannot be predicted. Crime indeed occurs at all times of the day and year in Honduras. Reports about tourist ferries and public transport being targeted have also made headlines. Travel after dark, in general, is discouraged.
Gun death rate: 24.8 per 100k
One of the significant concerns about Colombia is its prevalence of armed militia groups and gangs. Gang activity related to the drug trade is well-known, but these operations expand to violent crimes against citizens and tourists alike. Regular flarings of civil unrest do not help the situation.
Aside from the physical threat from violent offenders, Colombia also poses a few health risks for visitors. Zika virus and Yellow Fever are present and widespread. In some areas, Malaria may be a risk factor, too. Be aware that medical services in Colombia require upfront payments, so it is best advised to make sure your travel insurance is comprehensive.
Gun death rate: 28.23 per 100k
Regular demonstrations, police and military roadblocks, and violent crime mark Guatemala’s civilian life. Police seem ill-equipped to manage the very high levels of homicide and gang-related violence.
Reports of armed robberies at tourist destinations and public transport are commonplace, while kidnappings are alarmingly regular.
Gun death rate: 32.75 per 100k
Sadly, Venezuela is suffering from political upheaval, contributing to a potentially volatile and dangerous social situation. Political instability, violent clashes, poverty, and high crime rates make Venezuela a problematic country to enjoy peacefully at this time. Poor citizens may resort to petty and severe crime to get by, as prices for essential items are beyond what most can afford.
As one example of the country’s state, visitors are advised not to use public transport. More than that, travel anywhere outside designated safe zones will be difficult. Currently, US currency is highly coveted, as it is the only currency accepted as tender by many. To make matters worse, environmental threats like hurricanes and flash floods present even more challenges for tourists.
Gun death rate: 5.5 per 100k
Like Venezuela, Ecuador experiences regular political protests and high crime rates due to poor economic factors. Many parts of the country, like the Esmeraldas provinces, are considered dangerous to travel to by the US State Department.
Much of the more traditional crime is perpetrated by what the US calls transnational crime groups. They are said to be responsible for numerous unpredictable attacks, murders, bombings, and assassinations in certain parts of the country.
Gun death rate: 6.57 per 100k
For much of the last three decades, Iraq has seen the dire aftermath of war. Two conflicts with the US have left the country in some state of upheaval, with various militias and insurgent groups operating throughout. They operate especially prominently in the northern part of Iraq.
US citizens, in particular, are considered at risk in Iraq, which is no real surprise. They are advised by the US government that there is a high potential for violence and kidnapping. Unfortunately, the targets aren’t just civilians, as there are regular clashes between security forces and militias. Too often, innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire.
11. Costa Rica
Gun death rate: 6.94 per 100k
Costa Rica is a fascinating country to evaluate when it comes to safety. Firstly, there is a significant wealth gap between the well-off and the poor. Many aspects of Costa Rica – especially for tourists – are considered reasonably safe, but there are some issues to be aware of.
In many cases, more affluent areas do a lot to take security into their own hands via neighbourhood watches, private security, etc. This is different in other more urban and less affluent areas. Petty crime, therefore, has been and remains a big problem for most people there.
Though it has a relatively low gun crime rate compared to others on this list, it does occur, and good sense will help you avoid it.
Gun death rate: 7.11 per 100k
Paraguay has a healthy tourism sector, though several warnings are regularly issued for safety reasons. The biggest problem in Paraguay, according to reports, appears to be corruption at various levels of authority. This has opened the door for organized crime and, along with it, some violent crime.
According to recent statistics, armed and petty crimes are on the rise in Paraguay, notably around the big cities. Exacerbating the situation is the economic factor. Unfortunately, Paraguay is among the very poorest of South American republics.
Gun death rate: 8.28 per 100k
For the most part, The Philippines also boasts a healthy travel and tourism industry, with a focus on solo travellers. Condé Nast Traveler even voted it as one of the friendliest countries in the world in 2022.
But the Philippines has a reputation for being particularly dangerous regarding organized kidnappings, bombings and similar terrorist-related attacks. The violence even happens around the island nation at sea sometimes. US citizens, especially, seem to be preferred as targets, presumably because there is a perception that a more significant ransom can be asked.
Image by Kris from Pixabay
14. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Gun death rate: 9.11 per 100k
Despite being considered relatively safe by most travel authorities, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have a concerning gun crime rate, especially for such a small population. The country is considered the poorest in the eastern Caribbean.
Not surprisingly, high unemployment and poverty invite criminal activity, which sometimes evolves into violent crimes like assault and homicide.
15. El Salvador
Gun death rate: 35.5 per 100k
El Salvador, which has seen its share of political violence through the years, remains a potentially dangerous country to visit. The major challenge facing the authorities today is gang-related crime. In March 2022, the government issued a public warning and claimed to have seen a decrease in related crime after a nearly year-long crackdown.
However, a tense atmosphere persists, especially in public spaces. Authorities advise little to no movement after sunset and expect high security checks. Violent crime rates are relatively high, with armed robberies and attacks taking the lead. Public transport is a fertile ground for such attacks, so visitors are advised to avoid these when possible.
16. Saint Lucia
Gun death rate: 9.14 per 100k
The little island of St Lucia has a surprisingly high level of local crime. Specifically, gun-related crimes connected to gang activity and homicides have increased in recent years.
There is also a heightened risk of petty crime – muggings, robberies, and even armed robberies. In this case, tourists are relatively easy targets, as they may carry valuables or large amounts of cash with them. When touring the outer-lying regions or inner cities, you should take caution on these fronts.
The resort culture is significantly developed here, though, for the most part, tourists can easily avoid situations that may put them at risk. However, it’s a good idea to exercise caution when exploring the island outside the resort areas. Another interesting note: Taxis are not metered on St Lucia. There is a standard rate for most destinations, so it’s a good idea to agree to a fare before departing.
Gun death rate: 9.79 per 100k
Haiti is developing a reputation for being lawless and especially dangerous for anyone not rooted in a secure location. Civil upheaval, kidnapping and violent crime are rampant. In a recent incident, an armed gang blockaded access to the country’s main fuel depo. Incidents like this are becoming more common in Haiti, making it a dangerous place to visit and live.
No particular area in Haiti is considered safe.
Gun death rate: 10.06 per 100k
It’s a shame that a country with a delightful reputation for partying also has an unfortunate nighttime crime problem. When attending Jamaica’s many clubs and dance halls, it’s not advisable to walk around the city at night. Armed robbery, petty crime, and assault are all too prevalent and a real problem for authorities to control.
Sadly, assaults and gender-based offenses are also frequently reported at resorts. This makes Jamaica a potentially unpleasant and dangerous holiday destination for the average tourist. Jamaica has a disproportionately high homicide rate. Several parts of Kingston are under a travel advisory, and visitors are urged to avoid it if at all possible.
Gun death rate: 10.22 per 100k
High crime rates prevail in Guyana, in part, because police resources are severely strained. Nighttime armed robberies and murders seem like daily occurrences in certain areas of the country. Guyana sees a fair amount of protest action, much of which has the potential to turn violent. Visitors are advised to keep clear of any such activity.
In addition to dangers through criminal intent, travel conditions are not ideal in Guyana. Many roads need to be better maintained, and simply getting around can be hazardous to the average traveller. To make matters even worse, large portions of the country are flood-prone during the rainy months.
Gun death rate: 10.6 per 100k
The Canadian government recently issued a rather stern warning about Panama: “You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk.”
Much of this warning is attributed to extremely high levels of crime, with an added warning regarding drugs, human trafficking and violent crime perpetrated by gangs and cartels involved in such. It would seem a better bet to look elsewhere for a holiday destination, as several areas close to the Colombian border are under heavy threat.
The armed guerilla groups operating towards the Colombian border put several privately owned resorts and reserves at risk.
21. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Gun death rate: 10.99 per 100k
First, the positive. A general decline in serious crime has been reported as a trend over the last few years in St Kitts and Nevis. However, the homicide rate remains unreasonably high. It currently ranks similarly to Puerto Rico and Panama.
Tourist-friendly areas can expect petty crime as with most other places. One mitigating factor about the crime rate reports here is the small population. When murders or violent crime occur, it impacts the statistic much more than in countries with larger populations. However, it also means that a person present here is that much more at risk.
Burglary and street robbery remain a problem, as does discrimination and violence when it comes to LGBTQi+ relationship tolerance.
22. Dominican Republic
Gun death rate: 11.28 per 100k
Homicide, sexual and violent assault and armed robbery are very common in the Dominican Republic. According to US authorities, these crimes have spelled in recent years.
La Duarte is often cited as a crime hotspot among the notorious areas of Santo Domingo. However, several such areas exist.
There have also been reports of more activity on the drug and human trafficking front. This usually leads to increased gang confrontations and violence, often spilling over into civilian life.
Gun death rate: 15.04 per 100k
Belize has the potential to be a major tourist destination in the Central American region, with a wealth of great locations and natural attractions. Unfortunately, it will have to make concerted efforts to curb the crime rates, especially in the major cities, including the capital, Belmopan.
Most petty crimes occur at night in cities, but some assaults and violent incidents have also been reported at tourist resorts and popular beaches. Gang activity is a factor, especially in the jungles closer to the border with Guatemala.
24. Trinidad and Tobago
Gun death rate: 15.21 per 100k
The city centre of Port au Spain is experiencing a significant crime increase, and as a result, the reputation for being unsafe has increased in recent years. Most of it can be attributed to increased gang activity.
Most concerning is the rising level of violent crime in Trinidad, which in turn seems to be mostly motivated by robbery. This affects tourists and locals alike. Tobago, for now, seems somewhat safer, though authorities still advise caution.
Gun death rate: 15.55 per 100k
It must be noted that Mexico is indeed one of the most popular holiday destinations on earth, and it is relatively safe in most parts. However, it is also a large country, and some regions may not be as safe as others.
In part, this is because Mexican law enforcement lags far behind many countries when it comes to effectiveness. Tourist resorts and areas may be fairly safe (save for some petty crime). Some states have increased the presence of gang and cartel activity, and therefore risk organized crimes like kidnapping, assault and so on.
Final Thoughts on Most Dangerous Countries in the World
If you’re travelling, consider all of the above when choosing a holiday destination. With all that said, however, remember that many of these countries enjoy healthy tourist industries, and the vast number of visitors to those countries have incident-free experiences.
Still, it’s best to know and then decide rather than set yourself up for a nasty surprise when you arrive at your dream destination. In most cases, exercising common sense and having your wits about you will keep you from situations where you might be at risk.
Most Dangerous Cities in the United States