Pickpockets working the crowds, fraudsters looking to clone your credit card and even modern day pirates working the high seas – yes, traveling the globe can be a dangerous game–depending on your destination. Just recently there have been terrorist attacks in Belgium and rioting on the streets of Paris and London – it seems nowhere is safe from harm. But what would it take to stop you from traveling? How dangerous is too dangerous?
From ravaged war zones to narco-trafficking hotbeds, these 10 countries (in no particular order) are a few of those that pose the most danger to travelers.
With prevalent travel warnings (UK, US, and Australian governments all advise against travel to the region) and the headlines still full of suicide bombings, kidnappings, government assassinations and terrorist plots, it’s no surprise to find Afghanistan on this list. Decades of warfare have long overshadowed the country’s immense beauty – vast landscapes dotted with important archaeological sites (including the Buddhist caves and shrines of Takht-e Rostam) and ancient market towns.
With an ever-increasing divide between rich and poor, a lack of police presence in the crime-ridden favelas and drug use rampant throughout the nation, the incidents of muggings, car-jackings and violent street crime show little sign of subsiding in Brazil. The UK and US governments both warn tourists of high crime levels, but the pristine beaches of the north, Amazonian rainforest trails and samba-fueled kaleidoscope of the annual Carnival still draw in the crowds.
Home to some of the holiest sites of Islam outside of Saudi Arabia, as well as the site of ancient Babylon and an abundance of significant historical sites, Iraq should rightly be a hotspot for Middle Eastern tourism, but very few are brave enough to enter its borders given the current situation. Not quite the war zone it was a few years ago, Iraq is still plagued by bombings, terrorist activity and kidnappings (particularly of foreigners) and it’s no wonder the U.S State Department has renewed its travel warnings, advising against all but essential travel to almost all locations in Iraq.
With four of the world’s greatest mountain ranges in the north, including the world’s second highest mountain, Pakistan has attracted climbers for years and remains popular despite the turbulent times it’s lived in recent years. Like so many Middle Eastern areas, Pakistan is still beleaguered by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban’s presence, suicide bombings and tribal clashes, making it a risky destination for travelers. US Government officials have expressed concern that the current political climate will increase the likelihood of westerner-targeted attacks.
Increasingly popular among the backpacker crowd, Colombia is starting to shake off its bad-boy image, but crime statistics and negative media coverage have ensured that its reputation prevails. Most often, the crimes reported are hijacks, robberies and kidnappings within areas controlled by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas but there’s also the use of date rape drug Scopolamine within cities to worry about. Hikers in rural areas should be extra wary of venturing off the beaten track – Colombia is second only to Afghanistan, when it comes to landmine victims –the dangerous explosives pepper the mountainsides
A country long marred by conflict, Somalia was struck off the list of safe destinations back in 1991 when rebel groups overthrew the dictatorship and started the country’s descent into a bitter civil war. Tribal warfare and violent disputes have played out ever since, splitting the country into around two dozen warring groups and making the capital Mogadishu so dangerous that for several years the Somali president fled to neighboring Kenya. Not only that, but the country is currently suffering a severe drought, with some 4.7 million people in desperate need of food aid according to the UN.
Libya has been splashed over the newspapers since peaceful protests against autocratic Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi erupted into armed conflict and unrest rapidly spread across the country. After a heated battle for power that ended in Gaddafi’s death, and the eventual installation of a UN-backed unity government in Tripoli that faces opposition from two rival governments and many militias, the region is still unstable, and generally unsafe. Travelers longing to visit the country’s numerous Roman ruins and sprawling Southern desert, may now have to risk their lives to do so.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, the DRC conflict has involved seven nations since its outbreak in 1998, with violent clashes over natural resources, border access, and politics. The result has been mass casualties, not only from warfare but from disease, malnutrition, and pillaging of rural villages by armed militias. Despite the signing of peace accords as early as 2003, in 2009 death rates were still estimated at 45,000 per month, and even today, kidnappings remain abundant and rebel fighters and armed militia groups still occupy much of the eastern and northeastern provinces.
Long renowned as a lawless domain ruled by bandits, some forty years of warfare has culminated in Sudan’s 2011 split into two countries, with South Sudan achieving its long-disputed independence. The largest and most geographically diverse country in Africa is also the least visited and although the lure of visiting the largely undiscovered pyramids or trekking the untamed Sudanese desert may one day entice tourists, it’s unlikely that tourism will increase until the two countries’ peace agreement has proved itself legitimate, and the political situation stable.
Regrettably infamous for its status as the “rape capital of the world” as well as its high homicide rates and high fatalities due to road accidents, the former World Cup host (2010) is no stranger to danger. Crime in South Africa does show signs of decreasing though – in 2014 there was a 2.8 decrease in physical assault, and a 6.9% decrease in sexual offenses, although reported incidents of rape remain unacceptably high.