World's most dangerous countries

Written by:
September 5, 2018
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World's most dangerous countries

Violence and possible dangers often lead news coverage of foreign countries, but just how treacherous are the most dangerous countries in the world? How many threats are real versus how many are only perceived as real? Whether you are looking to travel or move, researching the safety of your destination can help you stay protected, giving you the chance to enjoy the experience without worrying.

Using data from Gallup’s Law and Order Index, Stacker compiled a list of the world’s most dangerous countries. More than 148,000 adults from 142 countries took the poll in 2017. Questions included experiences with theft and assault, confidence in the local police force, and feelings of safety at night. Each country was then given a score based on respondent answers.

From countries recovering after deadly outbreaks of disease to those with decades-long civil wars and unruly police, read on to discover more about the world’s most dangerous countries. Stacker begins the list in Eastern Europe with Belarus.

ALSO: Most dangerous countries for Americans to travel to

#68. Belarus (tie)

Law and order index score: 77

The landlocked Eastern European country of Belarus declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. According to World Nomads, petty theft is a problem for travelers.

#68. Bulgaria (tie)

Law and order index score: 77

The Orthodox Christian nation of Bulgaria sits north of Greece. More tourists visit the country each year than there are local citizens. The country is governed by a democratically elected president and parliamentary republic.

#68. Tanzania (tie)

Law and order index score: 77

According to the BBC, Tanzania has a stable political system despite a lagging economy. The East African nation can be dangerous for tourists who travel alone or who visit the countries borders.

#68. Turkey (tie)

Law and order index score: 77

Turkey is known for its delicious food. Following the 2016 coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cracked down on dissent in the country, meaning political-based violence is possible. The nation is also under threat from attacks by the Islamic State because of its Kurdish population and shared border with Syria.

#67. Latvia

Law and order index score: 76

Latvia gained independence in 1991 and is a member of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Eastern European country bordering Russia, is one of the world’s most dangerous places to drive. The number of road deaths in Latvia was 60% higher than the European Union average in 2016.

#66. Tunisia

Law and order index score: 75

The North African country of Tunisia is home to the ancient city of Carthage. Tunisia was part of the Arab Spring in 2011, which removed its president from power. Since, the country has been relatively peaceful, though the country is still under state of emergency after a 2015 suicide bombing. The most volatile parts of the country are near its borders.

#63. Greece (tie)

Law and order index score: 74

The Mediterranean country of Greece faces difficult economic issues, stemming from a debt crisis beginning in the 2000s. According to Safe Around, violent crime is low in the country, though petty theft is high due to the economic hardships Greeks face. The U.S. State Department warns against attending protests that often occur in cities like Athens.

#63. Pakistan (tie)

Law and order index score: 74

Pakistan struggles with a sluggish economy, which cannot meet the needs of the labor force. The country is a volatile place because of its ongoing border war with neighboring India and the terrorist networks present in the country.

#63. Niger (tie)

Law and order index score: 74

Niger’s political independence is unstable. The country is also part of a coordinated effort to stop the terrorist group Boko Haram, which makes Niger a target for retaliation. The United Kingdom advises against all travel to the northern parts of the country due to concerns of kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

#58. Zimbabwe (tie)

Law and order index score: 73

Former President Robert Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years with impunity and corruption. The country’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa is party of Mugabe’s party and is associated with a bloody history of crackdowns on political dissent. Travelers are advised not to go out at night because crime rates are high and police presence is minimal.

#58. Burkina Faso (tie)

Law and order index score: 73

The West African nation of Burkina Faso has faced a series of political coups, the most recent being in 2015. Burkina Faso is ruled by President Roch Marc Kabore, but faces constant terrorist threats, which can target tourist centers.

#58. Jamaica (tie)

Law and order index score: 73

The Carribean island of Jamaica is known for its beaches and food. However, travelers must be wary of increased risks of violent crime and drug extortion. Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

#58. Nicaragua (tie)

Law and order index score: 73

The largest Central American country has a high risk of mugging and pickpocketing. Political protests in the country in 2018 turned violent and left nearly 300 people dead when government forces attacked the protesters.

#58. Kyrgyzstan (tie)

Law and order index score: 73

Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia on the western border of China. The former member of the Soviet Union is ruled by elected President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and the country’s political situation is precarious. Petty and violent crimes are prevalent, especially when travelers use public transportation.

#55. Honduras (tie)

Law and order index score: 72

According to the BBC, Honduras is one of the most unstable countries in Central America because of its ongoing economic problems and political corruption. Drug wars and extortion are common, even targeting foreigners.

#55. Panama (tie)

Law and order index score: 72

Panama is the border country between North and South America. Violent crime like murders and kidnappings are common. According to World Nomads, drug trafficking can be part of the country’s tourism industry.

#55. Palestinian Territories (tie)

Law and order index score: 72

The Palestinian Territories is refuge for displaced Palestinians in Israel. Palestinians have asked for independence for decades. Tensions between Israel and Palestine are always high, which can lead to widespread violence. The area features numerous ancient holy sites, many of which travelers are not advised to visit because of security concerns.

#47. Uruguay (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

Tourists are drawn to Uruguay’s coastlines and year-round mild climate. According to World Nomads, the country is one of the safest to visit in South America, though pickpocketing and car robberies do occur.  

#47. Benin (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

Benin, located in West Africa, is believed to be the home of voodoo. The country faces widespread poverty and political corruption. According to the U.S. State Department, protests are common and can turn violent, and robberies are also common for tourists.

#47. Ecuador (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

Ecuador benefits from an agricultural economy and the recent discovery of oil. Travelers often come to take in the nation’s abundant nature, though they can be victims of petty theft and highway robbery, especially at night.

#47. Mozambique (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

Half of Mozambique’s population lives below the poverty line, making tourists targets for theft. According to the U.S. State Department, traveling at night is not advised because of the greater threat of robbery. There is also the danger of landmines that were never removed after the country’s civil war, though Mozambique was declared landmine free in 2015.


#47. Yemen (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

Located south of Saudi Arabia, the country of Yemen is home to numerous ancient sites. An ongoing civil war continues to ravage the country, with neither group gaining significant political or social control.


#47. Guatemala (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

The Central American country of Guatemala features Mayan ruins, volcanoes and large forests. However, the city’s deserted areas or streets at night are particularly dangerous for travelers. The country’s police forces are ineffective at stopping crime or following-up on crimes.


#47. Iraq (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

The Middle Eastern nation of Iraq has been politically unstable since the 2003 removal of President Saddam Hussein by American-led forces. Violence between religious groups is common, including attacks by members of the Islamic State. There is also the risk of imprisonment without trial.


#47. Lesotho (tie)

Law and order index score: 71

The nation of Lesotho is landlocked and surrounded by South Africa. Cities are locations of high crime, especially robbery and car theft. Lesotho is also a production hub and trafficking route for drugs.


#41. Mongolia (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

Located south of Russia, Mongolia has a growing economy and agriculture sector. Outbreaks of typhoid and the plague are common, so travelers need to be vaccinated and prepared to take antibiotics.  


#41. Kenya (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

Known as the “cradle of humanity,” Kenya is a relatively safe and stable country. Tourists should be wary of theft and scams in city centers. However, terrorist attacks from Al-Shabaab, located in neighboring Somalia, are growing more prevalent, and travelers are advised to stay away from the border.

#41. Costa Rica (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

Due to Costa Rica’s large tourism industry, the Central American nation struggles with theft, scams, and pickpocketing. There are also active volcanoes in the country.

#41. Paraguay (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

Political unrest and corruption are common problems in Paraguay. The South American nation struggles with police corruption, tourist scams, and petty theft.

#41. Russia (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

The largest country in the world offers amazing architecture and natural wonders. However, the nation is at a high risk of terrorist attacks. In 2017, there was an attack in St. Petersburg. Travelers should also be wary of pickpockets in cities.

#41. The Gambia (tie)

Law and order index score: 70

The Gambia is Africa’s smallest country and struggles with its economy and poor soil. According to the Canadian government, hotel thefts are common and local beaches can be targeted by robbers.

#37. Chile (tie)

Law and order index score: 69

Unlike other South American countries, Chile has not experienced as many coups or instances of political unrest, according to the BBC. Petty theft is common in city centers, and visitors to Chile face the risk of flash floods and active volcanoes.

#37. Togo (tie)

Law and order index score: 69

Political demonstrations, which can become violent, are common in the West African nation of Togo. Government crackdowns on unrest do happen, and tourist are often robbed.


#37. Senegal (tie)

Law and order index score: 69

Political stability in Senegal has allowed the West African nation to send peacekeeping forces to conflicts in neighboring countries. However, the instability of neighboring countries makes Senegal a target for terrorist attacks. Muggings after dark and highway robberies occur regularly.  


#37. Ukraine (tie)

Law and order index score: 69

The Eastern European nation of Ukraine remains at war with itself following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. This area of eastern Ukraine is particularly dangerous because fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian forces can break out at any time. Other parts of the country are more stable and safe to visit.

#33. Haiti (tie)

Law and order index score: 68

Haiti is located in the Caribbean alongside the Dominican Republic. Widespread poverty make theft and robbery common in the nation’s cities. Using public transportation can make tourists a target for mugging and kidnapping. Political demonstrations happen regularly, with some turning violent.

#33. Trinidad and Tobago (tie)

Law and order index score: 68

Large oil reserves make Trinidad and Tobago one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean. The island nation is a tourist destination, though theft and highway robbery is a threat. Parts of the city are known for being crime hot spots and are best avoided.

#33. Guinea (tie)

Law and order index score: 68

Located in West Africa, Guinea received international attention during the region’s 2014 Ebola outbreak, which killed 11,300 people. Border areas with Sierra Leone and Liberia are particularly dangerous. Violent crime is increasingly becoming a problem in cities, including in tourist areas.


#33. Central African Republic (tie)

Law and order index score: 68

Known for its diverse wildlife and natural sites, the Central African Republic has been marred by a series of civil wars, one of which is ongoing. Political figures and humanitarian workers have been kidnapped, and rebel groups throughout the country pose a significant risk to visitors.

#29. El Salvador (tie)

Law and order index score: 67

The decades-long civil war in the 1980s did not reduce inequality in El Salvador, which remains a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. The Central American nation struggles with urban gangs and police corruption.

#29. Moldova (tie)

Law and order index score: 67

While this small Eastern European nation, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, is well-known for its natural beauty and delicious home-grown wine, travelers should be cautious. The former Soviet state experiences high rates of petty theft in the capitol city Chisinau as well as political unrest in the disputed territory of Transnistria.

#29. Ivory Coast (tie)

Law and order index score: 67

The Ivory Coast has experienced political fractions since the early 2000s. The instability has made some areas of the West African nation unsafe. Robberies and muggings are likely to occur at night outside of nightclubs or on bridges. Violent crime happens in cities, particularly Abidjan.  

#29. Libya (tie)

Law and order index score: 67

The North African country of Libya is known for its oil reserves. The nation continues to face political instability following the 2011 removal of Muammar Gaddafi from power. Ongoing armed conflict between political groups and threats of terrorism place the nation on the U.S. State Department’s "Do Not Travel" list. Foreigners are often targets of terrorist groups in the country.


#25. Congo (Brazzaville) (tie)

Law and order index score: 66

The Congo continues to face civil war and bloody power struggles between militias. The nation is rich with natural resources, which only furthers the unrest. Refugees from inside and out of the country continue the nation’s instability, and foreigners have been targeted for kidnappings.

#25. Ghana (tie)

Law and order index score: 66

Ghana, located in West Africa, adopted a democratic form of government in the 1990s and has remained a stable nation since. Crime in the country consists of typical tourist dangers—pickpocketing and petty theft. However, violent crime and cases of rape are increasing. The main security concerns in Ghana involve the instability of neighboring countries.

#25. Nigeria (tie)

Law and order index score: 66

Nigeria has long struggled with a sluggish economy, mostly due to the military coups in its history. While the nation is a democracy today, there is a risk of increased violence along ethnic and religious lines. Terrorism remains a major threat with the presence of Boko Haram in the northern parts of the nation.

#25. Mali (tie)

Law and order index score: 66

Mali is on the U.S. State Department’s "Do Not Travel" list due to the risk of violent crime and terrorism. Terrorist attacks are possible in tourist locations.

#22. Cameroon (tie)

Law and order index score: 65

Cameroon, in West Africa, is home to more than 200 languages. The diversity has been a source of tension in the country, some of which have become violent. There are high risks of kidnapping and murder in northern parts of the country where the terrorist group Boko Haram is located. Armed militias may block roads or form violent protests, which can harm unsuspecting travelers.

#22. Namibia (tie)

Law and order index score: 65

Namibia won independence in 1990 and has since remained a politically stable nation in West Africa. Travelers should watch out for petty theft in cities. There is also the risk of landmines along Namibia’s border.

#22. Congo (Kinshasa) (tie)

Law and order index score: 65

The resource-rich Congo is a dangerous place because of its ongoing civil war, referred to as “Africa’s world war.” Along with the fighting, political demonstrations to hold democratic elections have become violent with the current government suppressing demonstrators.

#18. Malawi (tie)

Law and order index score: 64

Political demonstrations, which can turn violent, are common in the East African country of Malawi. A poor economy pushes some towards crime like petty theft. Traveling by road in the country is dangerous due to the high risk of accidents and highway robbery.

#18. Colombia (tie)

Law and order index score: 64

According to World Nomads, Colombia is not as dangerous as it once was, although there are still risks of kidnapping and drug-related violence. The South American country is particularly dangerous in areas that border with Venezuela and Ecuador. There is risk of extortion for travelers, who are targeted by local criminals.

#18. Madagascar (tie)

Law and order index score: 64

Located off the eastern coast of Africa, the island nation of Madagascar is known for its wildlife. The nation’s political landscape has been volatile since the 2009 coup d’état. Along with risk of petty theft in cities, travelers are advised to avoid secluded or isolated areas where they could be targeted for extortion or violence.

#18. Chad (tie)

Law and order index score: 64

The U.S. State Department advises travelers “reconsider travel” to Chad. The North African nation has this label due to its robbery and violent crime rates, as well as its risk of terrorism from Boko Haram.

#14. Argentina (tie)

Law and order index score: 63

Argentina features one of South America’s largest economies. The country does pose a risk to travelers with petty crime and scams in cities.

#14. Peru (tie)

Law and order index score: 63

Despite being the world’s leading producer of cocaine, Peru remains a stable country. Petty theft, kidnapping, and credit card fraud does happen in the country.

#14. Mauritania (tie)

Law and order index score: 63

The West African nation of Mauritania faces the threat of terrorism, especially in the eastern parts of the country. Public places used by tourists are a target, and visitors should be wary of kidnapping risks.

#14. Brazil (tie)

Law and order index score: 63

Gang-related violence, including public shootouts with police, take place in Brazil. Armed robbery is common in cities and poses a high risk of leading to murder.

#12. Uganda (tie)

Law and order index score: 62

According to World Nomads, Uganda is a safe and stable country, but threats from its neighbors can make it unsafe. In the north, Uganda faces violence from the Lord's Resistance Army. Greater police presence has decreased the amount of petty theft in Uganda.

#12. Zambia (tie)

Law and order index score: 62

Despite Zambia’s fast-growing economy, the majority of its citizens remain in poverty. Political rallies do occur in the country, though one of the biggest threats are its cholera outbreaks.

#9. Botswana (tie)

Law and order index score: 61

Thanks to the diamond industry, Botswana is a middle-income nation with a strong economic sector and stable, multi-party government. Visitors could fall victim to theft and robberies, and should be careful of leaving valuables in hotel rooms, according to the U.S. State Department.

#9. Sierra Leone (tie)

Law and order index score: 61

The West African nation of Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world. Thefts do occur, especially at night. Visitors are also advised to avoid traveling at night due to the risk of robbery. The country’s poorly maintained roads also pose a risk to travelers.

#9. Bolivia (tie)

Law and order index score: 61

Bolivia’s natural gas industry generates much of the country’s economy. However, it has also spurred conflict in the South American nation, notably in 2003 when dozens of people were killed while protesting a new export agreement. Pickpocketing and ATM robbery are common problems. There is also a high risk of drug-related crime since Bolivia is a world-leading producer of cocaine.

#8. Dominican Republic

Law and order index score: 60

Along with producing coffee and sugar, the Dominican Republic relies on the tourism industry for its economy. The Caribbean island nation features pristine beaches with its full-service resorts. However, traveling off the resorts into cities greatly increases the risk of robbery or scam.

#6. South Africa (tie)

Law and order index score: 58

South Africa is one of the continent’s strongest economies. Recently elected President Cyril Ramaphosa is on a mission to root out corruption in the government, which has been criticized for not doing enough about the nation’s economic inequality. Theft, rape, and murder often occur in isolated parts of the cities. Cape Town is also experiencing a dangerous drought.

#6. Mexico (tie)

Law and order index score: 58

Despite a strong oil industry, Mexico is unable to shake its economic inequalities. The drug trade is a source of violence, and may be the reason Mexico has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Tourists are advised to be cautious in cities and avoid traveling at night.

#5. Liberia

Law and order index score: 56

Liberia experienced a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. The war killed 250,000 people. The outbreak of Ebola in 2013 dealt another blow to the West African nation. Crime rates in Liberia are high, and the country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world. Tourists are encouraged to be cautious all the times.

#4. Gabon

Law and order index score: 55

As a world-leading producer of oil, Gabon’s economy is growing and remains steady. However, many of its citizens are impoverished. Thefts are common, even during daylight hours, and traveling by road is dangerous due to poor road conditions.

#3. South Sudan

Law and order index score: 54

South Sudan is a relatively new nation in the African continent, though it remains in conflict. A civil war has been raging in the country since 2013 when the president and vice president began attacking one another. The violence can be indiscriminate, which is why travelers are advised against visiting South Sudan.

#2. Afghanistan

Law and order index score: 45

Afghanistan makes the U.S. State Department’s "Do Not Travel" list because of the threat of kidnapping, terrorist attacks, and ongoing military operations. The 2001 NATO-led insurgency may have removed dangerous elements of the Middle Eastern country’s government. However, the war has left a weak system for upholding the rule of law and protecting citizens from militant attacks.

#1. Venezuela

Law and order index score: 44

Violent political protests are common in Venezuela where economic inequality and high rates of inflation have made it increasingly difficult to live there. Those protesting President Nicolás Maduro’s rule are met with violence. The local government does little to protect citizens, and criminals can act with impunity.


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