The crime statistics of world’s five most dangerous cities are disheartening and shocking. With such high rates of homicide, robberies and violence these cities deservedly bear the names of ‘the places of chaos and death’ or ‘the murder capitals of the world’. Despite the scary data, some of them still remain wanted tourist destinations, though extreme caution is strongly advised when visiting.
The governments’ warnings about traveling to Somalia are unanimous: this African country remains extremely dangerous and there is an enormous risk to anyone’s security due to the threat of terrorism, clan-based and ethnic fighting as well as high level of kidnapping and piracy off the coast.
The epicenter of these brutal crimes and cruelty is Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. The city has been devastated by the ongoing civil war. As of 2008, around half of the city’s population (0.5 million) have left the war-torn capital, according to the United Nations. Dozens of people are wounded every day in Mogadishu, and frequent bombings kill many of civilians. No one really knows how many people have been killed in the city, but without dispute Mogadishu remains the most lawless and dangerous city in the world. This is how BBC describes the everyday scenes in Mogadishu: “The crump of mortars; the crackle of gunfire; eerily empty streets; prowling guerrillas and looters; sprawling refugee camps; hospitals overflowing with casualties, their bodies smashed open by bullets, shells and shrapnel…”.
Since the overthrowing of President Siad Barre in 1991 one million people have lost lives in Somalia due to the civil war and famine.
Ciudad Juárez. Mexico
130 killings per 100 000 residents
Also Mexico, one of the world’s greatest travel destinations thanks to its fascinating history and stunning natural sites, is, unfortunately, facing a serious problem of robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault and drug-related crimes.
Among worst affected areas in the country is the Chihuahua state and, above all, Ciudad Juárez. The city located across the U.S and Mexican border, home to 1.5 million people, has recently got a very bad reputation due to its shocking rates of violence. Bloody and violent fighting between the drug cartels have spread across the town, posing a serious threat to locals and travelers.
Since January 2007 there have been 8330 drug-related murders reported in Mexico, of which 50% accounted for Ciudad Juárez. The city reports 130 murders per 100,000 inhabitants (as of August 2009), which is currently the world’s highest murder rate ( outside the official war zone). In February 2009 the U.S. State Department announced that since January 2008 there had been 1,800 people killed in the city.
130 killings per 100 000 residents
Another unsafe destination among world’s most dangerous cities is Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
At the end of 2008 the Foreign Policy magazine called the city “the murder capital of the world”. According to the official statistics there have been 130 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2008. Only in December 2008 there were at least 510 people killed in the capital, as CNN reported.
The problems of Caracas are not only drug trade and gang battles, but also increasing poverty of the city inhabited by around 4 million people. Murders mainly take place in the capital’s poorest areas – between 1970s and 1990s the poverty rate increased by 300% to 65%. Although during the oil boom the economic situation improved, the poverty level remains very high.
Moreover, experts underline that the murder ratio has increased by 67% since President Chavez took control over the country. There is police abuse, no gun control, and no good control over the militias, as various media report.
New Orleans. The USA.
95 killings per 100 000 residents
The homicide rate in New Orleans ranks way above other American cities and towns, and therefore the city has been named the murder capital of the USA. The total number of murders equaled 179 in 2008 in this small city of around 300,000 residents. Nevertheless, there have been 15% fewer killings in 2008 than in 2007 when the police reported 210 murders. Also other crime rates are dropping in the town. Rape went down by 44% and armed robbery 4.85% in 2008 in comparison to 2007.
Still, according to the FBI data there have been 95 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2008. In turn New Orleans Police Department reported 67 murders per 100,000 in 2008. A scary comparison has recently been made by the Time magazine stating that Baghdad in Iraq with its murder rate of about 48 per 100,000 people is now being safer, considering the statistics, than New Orleans.
Violent crime is a serious problem especially in the low-income neighborhoods of the town. Lonely Planet advises travelers to New Orleans to be cautious and avoid walks at night, especially if you are alone.
Cape Town. South Africa.
62 killings per 100 000 residents
Crime has been a major problem in South Africa (both for locals and travelers) for many years now, and the murder and robbery statistics loom large in today’s society.
The “good” news is that the number of killings declined by 3.4% to around 18 000 (sic!) between April 2008 and March 2009. Still there are 50 murders a day in South Africa. The latest data shows that there have been 71,500 sexual offenses (10% increase), 18,400 burglaries (27% increase), and 13,900 business robberies (41% increase) reported from April 2008 to March 2009. If it’s any consolation, the street robbery declined by 7% to 72,194.
The beautifully located Cape Town is among the most dangerous towns in the country due to its high level of robberies, rapes, kidnappings and murders. The city is about the same size as Caracas and it has a murder rate of 62 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the police, the homicides usually occur in the poorer districts and suburbs of the town rather than in upscale areas. Due to the poverty (the country has been facing a deep recession) the robberies are common. Therefore, traveling alone and using ATM’s at night is not advised.