Top Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the World

When it comes to vacationing or even relocating one of the biggest concerns can be the safety of the city in question. In this article we will cover the top ten most dangerous cities and why they are so dangerous. These cities include: San Pedro in Honduras and Juarez in Mexico.

Factors used to write this article: When it comes to determining the top ten most dangerous cities around the world there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Certainly the level of crime is one to consider since it could be something that you will experience firsthand living or vacationing in the city. Another important consideration is the current status of affairs between your native country, such as the United States and Canada, and the country in question. At any given time as a result of current affairs you may find that travel is ill-advised by your government to a specific location due to current relations. In countries that are experiencing civil war, terrorist threats or other political uprisings, it is generally advised to avoid travel.


1. San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Honduras crime

Congratulations San Pedro Sula, it’s been nominated the murder capital of the world.  While recent number are difficult to obtain, a study reported that a total of 1,143 murders were committed in 2011 in a city of 719,447 people. That’s 159 people killed for every 100,000 residents.  That’s a murder rate 40 times higher than the average U.S. city, and 8 times higher than the most dangerous city in America (New Orleans).

Even the U.S. peace corps could not halt the crimes, the forces withdrew from Honduras after one member of the peace corps was shot in the leg in San Pedro Sula. Perhaps even more alarming is a study by the United Nations indicating that the city’s murder rate has more than doubled in the period from 2005 – 2010.  Like many struggling Latin American countries, San Pedro Sula’s spike in extreme violence is largely a product of the drug trade, mixed with extreme poverty and high levels of corruption.

Squeezed out by President Calderon’s War on Drugs, many traffickers have set up shop in Honduras, leaving a trail of bloodshed and lawlessness in their wake.  One doctor tells the story of how she was receiving 3 patients with gunshot wounds, only for a gunman to drop in and shoot them before casually walking away.

This data was compiled by the Citizen Council for Public Security, Justice, and Peace, a Mexican authority. The organization used intentional homicide statistics from 2012 to draw comparisons, focusing on cities in North, Central, and South America. Middle Eastern cities were not included.

Homicides: 1143 (2011)


2. Juarez, Mexico


Once known as the murder capital of the world, Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez has recently seen a 40 percent decline in murders. When this city was among the most murderous in the world, the morgue ran out of room, the corpses stacked to the ceiling in the wheezing walk-in freezers. Medical examiners, in plastic boots, performed a dozen autopsies a day as families of victims waited outside in numbers sufficient to require a line.

Between January and September of 2012, 681 murders were reported in Ciudad Juárez. While not a low number by anyone’s count, the murder rate is climbing down from 1,571 during the same time in 2011, according to statistics compiled by Molly Molloy, a researcher at New Mexico State University.

Hopefully things will start to improve as there is an apparent end in the war between the Sinaloa and Juárez, with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel taking control of the Mexican border city, according to Dr. Kathleen Staudt, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso.

While the number of murders has dropped significantly over the last year, probably due to thousands fleeing the place and the monopoly  of a major drug cartel, the situation in Juárez remains bleak. There is simply no telling when a major gang leader could be caught, an event which will surely set into motion another struggle for control over the drug trade and the city.

Calderon says that homicides across Mexico are decreasing, but suspicions linger because his government refuses to release nationwide data.

Homicides: 1571 (2011)

 More Information about the War in Juarez:

Ciudad Juárez has been a front for one of the most brutal drug wars in history. Beginning in 2008, the four-year-long war has produced a horrifying number of recorded (with several unrecorded)casualties – 1,623 in 2008; 2,754 in 2009; 3,115 in 2010; 2,086 in 2011 ; and – thus far – 542 casualties in 2012. According to Juarez municipal officials, this past August recorded 34 murders – which is the lowest monthly death toll recorded in five years.

Over four years ago – in the midst of a Mexican drug war –  El Pasoans also felt the negative impacts of the chaos that ensued as a result of the Drug War. Normally, El Pasoans would conduct everyday activities by traveling to-and-from Ciudad Juárez; people shopped, visited relatives and worked in the once-flourishing city. Once disaster struck, it became difficult to stray away from old habits, and in some cases, the possibility of being able to avoid the city was just not possible.

This strong relationship between El Paso and Juarez led to turmoil for many. Since many El Pasoans were unable to cut ties completely from Ciudad Juárez, they felt the same ramifications. News of assaults, kidnappings and deaths seemed to reach everyone. Families struggled with the very real possibility that someday it could be their family members or friends seen hurt, missing or dead in the news the following day. Unfortunately, for many, that possibility  was already a reality.


3. Sana’a, Yemen


Yemen is an area that has often made government warnings as the U.S. department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the area. Constant political turmoil puts Sana’s the capital city of Yemen at the top of the list for areas within Yemen that should not be frequented. As protesters and government forces often clash many confrontations escalate out of control within minutes. As confrontations over politics continue the U.S. government has not only warned for citizens to avoid travel to the area but they have also advised those in Yemen to flee the country immediately while they are still able. The current gross domestic product per capita of Sana’s in Yemen is the forty-seventh lowest globally at $1,283 USD and just over seventeen percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day. The adult mortality rate per 1,000 for Sana’s is 357. The adult literacy rate is just over thirty seven percent.

The Yemen government is taking measures to decrease the carrying of guns, especially AK-47 machine guns, which can be intimidating to foreigners who visit the country. Many Yemenis consider a gun a basic part of their dress code, no different that traditional — dagger that many wear in their belts. They are worn as a symbol of pride and tradition, never to be used. While in Sana’a, I only say one citizen carrying an AK-47 in a traditional Yemeni restaurant.

There are still some military checkpoints at night in the City, and ones on the highway when you travel to the north. Apparently you are supposed to have some sort of travel permit when my client took me for a drive to see some of the northern villages. However, when we encounter the 1st checkpoint, he was able to talk us through without one. In a sense, the checkpoints make the country even safer, no different than the high presence of police in US cities.


4. Acapulco, Mexico


A second  Mexican city has landed on the world’s most dangerous cities list – Acapulco. While it used to be a favorite vacation spot to check out scantily clad co-eds from neighboring places, it is now more famous and notorious for being the scene of a couple of the most bloodcurdling murders in the world.

Who can focus on the beauty of its picture-perfect beach when there were bloody, dismembered bodies taking precedence.  News of such hideous crimes befalling the city has made the world sit up and recognize that what used to be a world-renowned tourist resort is now a place of fear, drug violence, and crime.

Homicides: 1,170 (2011)


Crimes happen mostly in working class neighborhoods that are just a few miles away from the luxury apartments, the vacation homes and the international franchise stores that line Acapulco’s coastal strip.


5. Maceio, Brazil

Brazil school shooting

Maceió is the capital of the state of Alagoas in northeastern Brazil. It boasts some of the most gorgeous laces in Brazil and fantastic food (the tapiocas made with polvilho azedo and grated coconut or carne de sol and queijo de coalho, also known as “the crêpes of the Northeast,” are superb)…and some of the most original public telephones in Brazil! Brazilian creativity at its best! The beaches in town are polluted, unfortunately, but you can drive south to some of Brazil’s best beaches.

There is a lot to do at Maceio’s beaches. The best sightseeing experience is to take a boat out to the natural pools. There are colorful reefs off the coast of Maceio, and at low tide they turn into swimming pools. These pools are great for snorkeling and diving. Most Maceio beaches also have surfing, wind-surfing, jet skis and kite surfing. Then again, you can always just sit in the shade of a palm tree and sip a liqeuer.

The urban Maceio beaches are crowded but lots of fun if you like a party atmosphere. If you want peace and quiet, there are also remote beaches a little way from the city where you can be all alone. This Maceio Brazil guide tells you where to go and when.

But…the gorgeous beaches and the parties never add up to the significant crime in the city. Government officials eager to attract tourism point out that residents are killing each other, not outsiders, and that the killing mostly occurs in the favelas (slums), and not in picturesque beauty spots.  Still, being the 2nd most violent city in the world isn’t exactly a selling point when it comes to tourism.

Brazil as a country is notorious for having high crime rates.  While some of this is hype, and conditions have improved recently, the country has a history of political instability, and high incidents of violent crimes.

Murder caught on tape! The victim is the man in black shirt seated  and the man in yellow shirt is the principal of the crime.  The boy who arrives on a bicycle is the murderer. The murder was because of debts with drugs.

Homicides: 1564 (2011)


6. Cali, Columbia


Colombia is notoriously associated with drugs and violence. Cali, Colombia, is no exception as it’s a large distributor and port for all sorts of drugs. However, Cali faces a new threat in the form of youth gangs. Machine-gun wielding, teenage gangs have risen 13-fold since 1992, to 134 known groups. 13% of the city’s murders are committed by the more than 2,000 youth specializing in drug trafficking, robberies, and casual violence.

Youth gangs are funded by established drug-cartels, providing cheap labor to the gang and are seen as easily disposable if need-be. Youth enter into these gangs seeking a “family” unit and money to supplement their lifestyle. Combined with little education, if any, youth members likely don’t realize the brief life-expectancy they’re ensuring themselves.

Homicides: 2,248 (2011)


7. Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo


When it comes to violent locations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo tends to make the list every time. With constant warring between bordering nations raging in the area the country is always in a state of unrest. Individuals visiting Kinshasa are warned that frequent crime occurs particularly against tourists and these crimes are often serious including armed robbery. Many of these violent or serious crimes occur after nightfall. In addition to the threat of violence, many tourists to this area face the threat of arrest by police officials if caught taking photographs of official government buildings or patrolled areas. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has the fourth lowest gross domestic product per capita at $185.96. The adult mortality rate is 357 per 1,000. Approximately sixty percent of the population survives on less than $1 per day and just over sixty-seven percent of the adult population is literate.


8.  Baghdad, Iraq


Iraq has long been on the do not travel list for Americans. Nine years after the United States began the war in Iraq violence still runs rampant. Despite the fact that U.S. troops still remain in the area the level of violence remains as random gunfire, roadside bombs, suicide bombings and other violent attacks take place in Baghdad and surrounding areas. Even in areas that troops have been able to successfully secure questions remain as to whether these areas will remain secure are the departing of troops. All in all the level of violence and the ill feelings harbored towards many foreigners by the Iraqi people make Baghdad the number one most dangerous city in the world. Currently in Baghdad, Iraq the gross domestic product is the sixty sixth lowest in the world at $2,531.15. The adult mortality rate in Baghdad is currently 291 out of every 1,000 civilian


9. Caracas, Venezuela


The most reliable source for crime data in Venezuela is the CICPC, which is the country’s equivalent to the FBI in the United States. The CICPC handles every homicide investigation in the country and they have detailed records on violent crime. It is well known that under the Chávez administration the CICPC restricted access to crime figures. What has gone unmentioned is that, for years, experts were miscalculating the homicide rate of the capital by using the wrong population estimate in their calculations.

Until quite recently, the official homicide rate for Caracas was overestimated by approximately 33 percent. The official numbers suggested that the city’s yearly homicide rate had climbed as high as 130 murders per 100,000 citizens in 2007. Yet, this figure was based on a miscalculation of the population of the Caracas metropolitan area, on the part of the CICPC.

According to census data, metropolitan Caracas has a population of just over 3.2 million people. Like New York City, this population is divided between five municipalities. Violent deaths occur in all five municipalities pass through the same morgue and the same CICPC medical examiners. Although they handle the deaths of all five municipalities the experts were calculating the homicide rate based on population statistics of just one municipality (Libertador), which has a population of 2.1 million.

Adjusted for population, the official 2010 homicide rate in Caracas falls from 109 per 100,000 to 71 per 100,000. That is still an incredibly high, incredibly alarming figure. However, in comparative perspective it is much less likely to grab the attention of international journalists or their editors.


10. Karachi, Pakistan


Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan, a Southasian county with a population of 180.4 million as of 2012.  It’s also its largest seaport and financial hub.  Although Karachi is home to between 14-21 million people, it has also become wracked with lawlessness and high crime rates.  This former capital of Pakistan has been overrun by political violence, gang shootings, and even suicide bombings.

While it’s per Capita murder rate is low compared to some of the other “murder capitals” on this list, Karachi is the most dangerous of the world’s mega-cities, with a murder rate of 12.3 per 100,000 residents (Al Jazeera).  None of the world’s 13 largest cities come within 25% of Karachi’s exceptional murder rate.

Amongst the political in-fighting and lawlessness, Karachi has become notorious for its motorbike riding assassins, known as “target killers”.  For $700-$1000, these target killers will assassinate anyone, including police, protesters, businessmen, and political opponents.

The assassin in the video below claims to have killed 30-35 people, and the number of target killers in Karachi has risen from 6 to 600 over recent years.  Expect the situation to much worse before it gets better.

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