High crime rates can make the most beautiful travel destinations a tourist nightmare. Many former travel havens, especially in South America, now have travel warnings because of high murder rates. What is the most dangerous city in the world?
Residents of risky towns often have to cope with losing loved ones. Gang violence and drug trafficking are often to blame for security issues worldwide.
Most dangerous cities in the world
What are the 10 most dangerous cities in the world? Unemployment and poverty often lead to an increase in crime rates around the world. According to Statista, these are the most dangerous cities in the world in 2022, based on murder rates per 100,000 people.
10. Cape Town, South Africa
- Murder rate: 66.36 per 100K
- Population: 4,801,000
Cape Town is the riskiest city in Africa. Visitors and locals are targeted by criminals pretending to be police and street beggars. The high murder rates are credited to gang violence in the Western Cape. The country also has one of Africa’s dirtiest cities, Johannesburg.
9. Fortaleza, Brazil
- Murder rate: 69.15 per 100K
- Population: 4,164,000
Though home to some of the richest footballers, Brazil struggles with insecurity. Travel advisors recommend that tourists visiting Fortaleza try to blend with the locals. Petty criminals target persons who look out of place—pickpockets frequent tourist areas. Tourist prostitution is also rampant, as male visitors are reportedly drugged and robbed by prostitutes.
8. Natal, Brazil
- Murder rate: 74.67 per 100K
- Population: 1.5 million
Natal has reported high poverty rates, resulting in high crime rates. Increasing unemployment has many locals turning to theft to make a living. Drug trafficking was the worst invention for this poor town. Gun violence is also prevalent, and visitors are warned to be careful when they visit the city.
7. Ciudad Guayana - Venezuela
- Murder rate: 78.3 per 100K
- Population: 950,000
While it struggles with gang violence like most other risky towns in Mexico, Ciudad Guayana has one unique security risk. A nearby illegal gold mine has locals convinced that they can get rich. Many murders happen on the road leading to mine.
6. Irapuato - Mexico
- Murder rate: 81.44 per 100K
- Population: 468,000
Mexico’s drug trade and violence have unfortunately reached the conservative city of Irapuato. According to Courthouse News Service, two local gangs, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Santa Rosa de Lima gang, are locked in a bloody war. However, the authorities reportedly ignore them as it is mostly gang members killing each other.
5. Ciudad Juarez - Mexico
- Murder rate: 85.56 per 100K
- Population: 1.5 million
Ciudad Juarez is a border city in the state of Chihuahua and was a major crossing for people into the US for years. As such, drug trafficking and its associated violence are significant security concerns. Drug cartels also target women; 87 women were murdered between January and September 2022.
Attempts to clean up corruption saw 800 police officers dismissed in 2012. A vigilante group arose in response to rising crime rates, which the police department said could result in further chaos in the municipality.
4. Ciudad Victoria - Mexico
- Murder rate: 86.01 per 100K
- Population: 374,000
Like many other dangerous cities, Ciudad Victoria is rife with mob gangs and drug cartels due to economic problems. The gravest threat for residents is gang violence, as innocent bystanders sometimes get caught in the crossfire. Similarly, there are often shootouts between criminals and the police.
The northeastern city is generally unsafe for tourists. Tourists are targeted in petty crimes like cons and pickpocketing. Muggings are rampant, and since police corruption is a significant concern, tourists who report financial crimes may not get justice.
3. Caracas - Venezuela
- Murder rate: 99.98 per 100K
- Population: 2,957,000
Caracas has been listed among the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world since 2008. The city consistently records high rates of kidnappings and violent crimes. Upheavals in Venezuelan politics have caused class conflict. Gangs have grown bolder in widespread murder, extortion, kidnapping and robbery, and the security forces are largely powerless against them.
In 2014, the State Department of the United States reported Venezuela as a hub of human trafficking and forced labour. Many Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, warned citizens against travelling to Caracas, Venezuela.
2. Acapulco - Mexico
- Murder rate: 110.5 per 100K
- Population: 1,005,000
Acapulco is in Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest states. The coastal city was a tourist haven in the early to mid-2000s. Although drug trafficking was rampant then, the central cartels maintained some order. However, the presidents since then have been emphatic about tackling cartel operations. The arrest of kingpins led to the rise of multiple smaller gangs.
With the war on organised crime, drug gangs switched to other crimes, including extortion and kidnapping. Violence is rampant because the criminals have no allegiance. Still, Acapulco can be safe for tourists if they stick to the tourist areas. There is also the risk of an earthquake hitting the city, the most recent being in September 2021.
1. Tijuana - Mexico
- Murder rate: 138 per 100K
- Population: 2,221,000
Tijuana is considered the most dangerous place to live in the world. Tourists are advised to stick to the tourist areas and always travel in groups. The main risks to tourists during the day are petty thieves and scammers. There are plenty of con artists, so it's advisable to be street-smart. Most crime occurs at night, and visitors should strive to stay indoors.
Working-class neighbourhoods are rife with the gang and cartel violence, where most murders occur. Tijuana is a hub of drug smuggling into the US. Gangs and cartels fight over smuggling routes, and innocent citizens can get caught in the crossfire. Human trafficking is also a security concern, so tourist families should keep their kids from wandering off alone.
What is the most dangerous city in the world?
Tijuana in Mexico is the number one most dangerous city in the world. In 2022, Tijuana recorded a murder rate of 138 murders per 100,000 people.
Why is Tijuana so dangerous?
The main security risk in Tijuana is cartel and gang violence. Tourists are advised to look out for cons, petty thieves and kidnappers. Kidnapping is also rampant because of human trafficking.
What is the most dangerous city in the US?
St. Louis is ranked the deadliest town in the US. Risk range from natural disasters like flash floods to violent crimes like serial killings and sexual assault.
What is the most dangerous city in Europe?
Bradford, United Kingdom, is considered the most violent location in Europe. The most common risks are violent muggings and sexual offences.
What is the most dangerous city in Africa?
Cape Town is ranked the riskiest destination in Africa, although it is located in one of the most developed countries in Africa. Gang violence and petty theft affect both locals and tourists.
What is the most dangerous city in the world? Many South American towns have seen an increase in rampant violence cases in the recent past. High crime rates have rendered many potential travel destinations in the continent unfavourable.
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