Every country has its advantages and disadvantages. There is so much complexity when it comes to countries as a whole. In fact, it’s difficult to determine how dangerous each one is. Statistics are not the most reliable and realistic source of information, but they do offer the only possible way to measure countries against one another. When considering the danger levels of a country, there are many factors that should be evaluated. First of all, what most statistics and rankings are based upon, the homicide and violent crime rates. Many rankings also take overall crime rates into account, including property crime and other non-violent types of crime.
Secondly, it’s important to note that there are usually significant disparities within countries themselves. A country may have a high danger rating- but this could mostly be concentrated within one city or one region. Plus, many statistics may be reflecting incidences within gangs, organized crime, or specific demographics.
A country’s danger rating is not necessarily a good indicator of whether or not it’s safe to travel there. It’s important to check specific locations and verify any warnings with your local government or embassy. The landscape of safety is constantly changing, and there are different types of risks involved with travel. However, there are some countries around the world that stand out due to their consistently high levels of danger. Some of the countries on this list may even surprise you! Keep reading to find out what the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world are.
As the largest country in the world, and one with a rich and interesting political history, Russia ranks as the 10th most dangerous country in the world. Based on the Global Peace Index Report, Russia has a score of 3.093. The danger in Russia comes from a variety of sources, and the country has been highly intertwined with United States politics for decades. As one of the top global powers, Russia has a lot of influence over other countries. However, on the U.S. government’s four-level travel advisory ranking, Russia is only classified as a level two.
Tourism in Russia is still fairly common, and the danger is largely concentrated to a handful of areas. Terrorism and civil unrest are common in areas such as Mount Elbrus, Chechnya, and North Caucasus. Not to mention, Ukraine and its borders with Russia are currently at a high level of instability. Russian forces are occupying Ukraine at the moment, causing significant violence and risk for travelers.
Russia may be particularly dangerous for American citizens, due to mounting tensions between both countries’ governments and politicians. Much of Russia’s instability has been blamed on the spread of Communist ideology in and around the country. Russia’s insistence on dominance has caused tension with many other countries, resulting in difficulties for travelers and unsafe conditions within the country. Much of the tension between Russia and the United States has been based on the fact that Russia refuses to adopt a democracy similar to the systems that Western societies have accepted.
9The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is considered by some as the most dangerous country in the world for women. Based on the GPI, or the Global Peace Index Report, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has a score of 3.218. Much of the DRC’s danger has continued to be spread throughout 2018 and 2019, with the government enacting repression and human rights violations. Voting in the DRC has been seriously threatened and repressed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s current government.
Peaceful demonstrations were banned in 2018, and this is just one of the human rights violations that have taken place in DRC. Throughout the past few years, millions of Congolese have been displaced, forced to flee from their country due to violence and senseless killing of civilians. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been struggling with instability since the 1990s. Many people believe that it was rooted at the beginning of the Rwandan genocide when the DRC suffered from a lot of the spillover of the conflict. Other African countries have also been dealing with violence and armed rebels since the time of the Second Congo War, from around 1998 to 2003.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo isn’t just struggling with political conflict. An outbreak of Ebola has also been pinpointed as a major source of danger, especially in the eastern region of the DRC. Unfortunately, despite a high UN presence, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still facing many issues and struggling to fight back against armed groups of rebels.
Travel to Libya is highly advised against due to extreme numbers of kidnapping, attacks, and civilian murders. Much of this violence is a direct result of the Libyan Civil War. This war has been going on since about 2014, causing the country to find itself in the top 10 of the world’s most dangerous countries. Libya’s score on the Global Peace Index Report is 3.285. The Libyan Civil War broke out as a result of several different groups grappling for control of the country and its oil reserves. Although there are a number of parties involved, the main two are the House of Representatives and the General National Congress.
Unfortunately, the most recent reports show that the violence and war in Libya are still going strong. Much of 2019 has been filled with fights for oil territory and major displacement of Libyan people. The civil war has trapped many civilians and children within its jaws, forcing them to flee or deal with serious dangers in their native country.
A peace plan was proposed in July 2019, although none of the parties involved have accepted the three-point plan as of yet. Due to the high levels of displacement and civil unrest, tourism is not possible in Libya. Westerners are particular targets of kidnapping and murder, even in tourist areas or hotels. Regions that are specifically dangerous include Ajdabiya, Al-Jufra, Misrata, and Surman. Travelers are sometimes detained by criminal groups or neo-military forces in this country, often for arbitrary reasons that have the potential to devolve into violence.
7The Central African Republic
Tensions are high in the Central African Republic, with significant violence existing in the country since 2015. Human rights violations and armed patrols have been a major part of the Central African Republic, often including kidnappings and ethnic violence. On the Global Peace Index Report, the Central African Republic has a score of 3.296. The Central African Republic’s security crisis began in full strength when a violent siege took place in 2013. The Christian country was overtaken by Muslim rebels. Since, then Christian and Muslim groups, as well as several other factions, have been at odds.
The Central African Republic is an African country that was no exception to the struggles that colonialism left behind. When the country gained independence from France in 1960, instability reigned, and it has ever since. Luckily, a peace treaty was recently reached between the 14 involved groups, and the Central African Republic seems to be on the right track to stability and the lessening of violence.
Many people consider this country to be one of Africa’s most turbulent in terms of violence as well as ethnic and political tensions. Some of the results of this turbulence include millions of displaced citizens, many of whom are still struggling to find humanitarian assistance. The UN believes that food security is still a significant issue in the Central African Republic, and it is one of the biggest emergencies that the country is currently facing. Remote areas of the Central African Republic are still particularly struggling with violence because of logistical difficulties. Peacekeeping is difficult to maintain in a country with so many groups and demographics at play.
Somalia is a country that is considered to be mostly in anarchy and one of the most dangerous places in the world. Somalia’s score on the Global Peace Index Report is 3.300. 2018 was a bad year for Somalia, a continuation of decades-long instability and humanitarian problems. There are millions of Somalians currently displaced or being forced to flee their country. The conflict in Somalia is different than most of the other countries on this list- it is not quite considered a civil war or a divide between two major factions.
Instead, Somalia’s issues are characterized by a lack of leadership overall. No one has been able to take or keep control of the country for years. This has resulted in a general state of crime running unchecked by any sort of governance. Somalia does technically have a government, but they barely have control of any region of the country. Many of the countries leaders don’t even live in Somalia.
This lack of central power has not only resulted in chaos and violence, but also in a lack of infrastructure or hope for the future. Without a reigning government, it’s difficult to build hospitals, create education, or even expand roads. Most of the change in Somalia is perpetrated by external, often Western, aid organizations. However, some groups of insurgents and armed rebels still fight back against any kind of peacekeeping. Somalia is extremely dangerous to travelers or any kind of foreigners, largely due to the rogue groups of insurgents, rebels, and militia groups present throughout the country.
Currently, right in the middle of the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world, Iraq has been stuck in a cycle of warfare for several years. Based on the GPI, Iraq is scored at 3.369. The situation in Iraq is called the Iraq War and has been heavily influenced by groups such as ISIS, the Islamic State, and even the U.S. government. The beginning of this conflict is marked in 2003 when the regime of Saddam Hussein was overthrown. This was backed by the United States, and it plunged the country into years of violence and insurgency.
In 2011, the United States government officially withdrew troops from Iraq. However, this has not ended the Iraq conflicts and issues. The country is still facing an unstable government and rivalries that developed during the peak of the Iraq War. ISIS has been the subject of a military defeat, which may sound like a win on paper, but the country is still quite far from peace. Luckily, things in Iraq seem to be looking up. 2018 statistics show that Iraq had its lowest levels of violence in 10 years.
Different organizations have many varying estimations about the casualty toll in Iraq. The lowest of these estimates is around 100,000 and the highest reaching over a million. Nowadays, Iraq is still dealing with instability, but the Kurdish region of the country is considered to be relatively safe. Many people agree that Iraq’s levels of peace and stability may vary in the coming years, depending on the direction of politics and economics.
Yemen is a country dangerous for two very large reasons. The first reason is the Yemeni Civil War, which broke out in 2015. Many of the countries on this list are here because they are in the midst of serious civil wars. Unfortunately, for countries in the Middle East and Africa, this is all too common. In the case of Yemen, the conflict is mainly taking place between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel movement- although they each claim to be the official government. Each group controls different regions of the country as of 2019, and Yemen is facing an imminent starvation crisis. The UN warned in 2018 that the Yemeni crisis has the potential to become the worst famine of the century.
Another reason for Yemen’s high rate of danger is the presence of cholera in the country. The country was home to the largest outbreak of cholera in the world, and the crisis still hasn’t fully been resolved. Yemen has a Global Peace Index Report score of 3.412. Yemen is covered in militia groups, armed terrorists, and other organized groups of criminals. Unfortunately, this has made it all but impossible for any form of tourism.
Many analysts believe that the Yemeni Civil War is actually an extension of conflicts going on between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As such, the conflict is highly influenced by the United States government. It’s believed that the civil war broke out in order to fight back against Iranian influence. Since the U.S. government is a supporter of Saudi Arabia, it has played a significant role in the Yemeni Civil War.
Another country indefinitely stuck within a civil war, the Republic of South Sudan used to be a part of Sudan. The civil war within this country began in 2013 and has been raging ever since. South Sudan has a GPI Report score of 3.526. This is reflective of the armed conflict going on throughout most of the country. Like most civil wars, South Sudan is based on a conflict between the government and many forces that oppose it. The violence broke out full steam when President Kiir accused his deputy of a coup d’état at the end of 2013. This began a trend of violence and tension that has not ceased since.
Negotiations have proved successful at various moments along the way, with a handful of ceasefire agreements being reached throughout the years. However, no ceasefire agreement has lasted long enough to bring the country to peace. Estimations of casualties reach around 400,000, although it’s difficult to know just how accurate this number really is. Neighboring countries of Uganda and Sudan have been largely implicated in the war, often deploying forces to fight and dealing with millions of displaced South Sudanese people.
Currently, South Sudan is at a crossroads, with a peace agreement having been made in 2018. The year was full of agreements and negotiations, but the jury is still out as to whether or not they will actually aid in peacekeeping across the nation. Unfortunately, the people of South Sudan have still been undergoing attacks, violence, and a general lack of safety even throughout the last year or two.
Syria was the most dangerous country in the world until recently when it dropped down to the 2nd most dangerous. Afghanistan took over the first ranked spot, but Syria is still experiencing significant security issues across the country. Most of this is due to the Syrian Civil War, an ongoing Middle Eastern crisis. A multi-sided war that has been going on since around 2012, it’s estimated that the Syrian Civil War has resulted in upwards of 500,000 deaths- both civilian and army.
Syria’s Global Peace Index Report score is at 3.566, just slightly lower than its 2018 statistics. Unfortunately, Syria’s movement from the most dangerous country in the world to the 2nd most dangerous is more due to a worsening of the situation in Afghanistan rather than an improvement in Syria. Essentially, the conflict in Syria is due to tensions between the Ba’ath government and several other forces fighting back against them. This includes a number of foreign armies like Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Israeli forces.
The UN reported that the rebel tensions seem to be between Shia and Sunni groups. The violence in Syria has been mounting since its inception in 2011 and 2012, causing the displacement of millions of Syrian citizens. The violence peaked in the media around 2013 due to the use of chemical warfare by the Syrian government. Syria is not a country open to travelers, and most Syrians are forced to flee and search for asylum in other countries due to the ongoing civil war.
Afghanistan has recently overtaken Syria as the world’s most dangerous country, based on 2019 statistics. Unfortunately, most of the African and Middle Eastern countries found on this list have been struggling with unrest since the 19th century. This is largely due to the colonial struggle for power that broke out during that century. Across the world, simultaneous improvements in peace and deteriorations took place in the past few years. Based on the changes within the past five years, about 76 countries’ levels of peace have become lower. However, on the other hand, 86 countries became more peaceful during this time.
Afghanistan has a Global Peace Index Report of 3.574. This is the highest score of any country in the world, and much of Afghanistan is in a state of war. The country has been delved into this violence and instability for over a decade now. The instability is largely centered around tensions between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Unfortunately, other countries such as the United States have also played a significant role in Afghanistan’s levels of unrest. Negotiations have been taking place throughout the past 18 years of Afghanistan’s history, but no final agreements have ever been reached between governments, peace groups, and extremists.
The deterioration of Afghanistan’s peace levels in the past year or two have likely been heightened because of the presidential elections taking place in September 2019. Security in the country has significantly worsened due to this political instability and corruption, causing more and more civilian deaths in 2018 and 2019.
There’s no way to say with certainty which country is the absolute most dangerous in the world. The term dangerous simply has too many meanings and forms of interpretation. Plus, it depends on whether you include war zones or countries in the midst of significant turmoil in the statistics. One thing’s for sure, dangerous countries seem to share quite a few similarities. Usually, high homicide and violent crime rates are related to gang activity. This is often higher in countries with political turmoil or corruption. Not to mention, these countries often struggle with poverty and unemployment levels.
Countries that have undergone colonialism or conquest in the past are often stuck with the repercussions of these events. Recent years have shown a rise in countries that are not at peace. Wars have continued and broken out across the world, nurtured by political tension across the planet. If you’re considering travel to a country that is considered dangerous, it’s important to do some research and consider the many different aspects of danger. First of all, your exposure to risk is likely different than citizens of that country- this could put you at more risk or less risk. Be sure to verify other travelers’ experiences and see what both your government and the other country’s government have to say about traveling there.
While it’s true that headlines and statistics can be misleading about the levels of danger in a country- it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Avoid putting yourself in harm’s way by spending a little more time considering and planning out your travel choices.