The number of dangerous places to visit has increased in the past twenty years. Wars have broken out, terrorism has taken root, and numerous travel warnings have been issued.
So what are the most dangerous places for American tourists to visit? This list ranks countries on the basis of the number of travel warnings issued by the US State Department.
The more warnings issued between the period of 2009 and 2017, the higher the country is on the list.
5. Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Syria (Tie)
All of these countries are infamous for their internal conflicts. Each has been issued a tied 23 travel warnings within an 8 year period.
Afghanistan has been embroiled in a conflict with the US since 2001 and has witnessed countless terror attacks. It faces constant threats and loss of life from the Taliban that have been fighting the government since the 1990s.
Nigeria is in the middle of an internal conflict as well. The terrorist group Boko Haram and other offshoots have been fighting within the area for years. Political instability and rampant crime also make Nigeria a possible hell on earth. On top of that, there are a few provinces that are considered no-go zones due to terrorist activities.
This includes Borno State, Akwa Ibom State, Delta, Bayelsa, Plateau State, etc. Bribery and corruption are also rampant within the state; hence travel has to be swift and calculated.
Syria has been in the news since 2013 for being a constant battleground. Apart from being embroiled in a civil conflict between rebels and the government, it is also a battleground for ISIS. ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) captured a significant portion of Syria at the height of their power.
However, even with their power largely contained and decimated within the region, Syria is still considered unsafe.
Since 2003, there have been American soldiers stationed in Iraq. The war within Iraq and the purpose behind it have been rejected by the international community.
However, the repercussions of bombing that nation and attacking its government have resulted in the establishment of ISIS. While that threat has also been beaten back by the collective might of Russia, Turkey, and the US, unrest remains.
Within the past two decades, Iraq has witnessed consistent bomb blasts, terror attacks and assassinations. It has also witnessed continuous power struggles between opposing forces, rebel groups, terrorists, etc.
3. Pakistan and Israel
Israel and Pakistan, though worlds apart, have been issued the same number of travel warnings – 25 travel warnings were issued within the 8 year period specified.
The reason for both countries to be issued the high number of warnings is their participations in international conflicts. While Pakistan may see more terrorist attacks and have a civil war raging, Israel has to deal with Palestinian terrorism.
Pakistan, though a third world country in comparison with Israel, still has a robust economy and a stable government.
This is a fact that it shares with Israel. The reason for both to be listed so high here is that they both have constant wars to fight. While they aren’t nearly as unstable or dangerous as Afghanistan or Syria, or Nigeria, they are embroiled in constant conflicts.
The reason for more travel warnings here seems to be the occurrence of singular events. For example, when Hamas attacks Israel, a travel warning is issued. Similarly, when there is a big attack in a provincial capital within Pakistan, a travel warning is issued. That explains the high frequency of travel warnings in these countries.
Mali is a hotbed for terrorist activity.
Terrorists are known to target night clubs, restaurants, tourist attractions, hotels, and even places of worship. Al-Qaeda has been active in the country since 2003 and this adds to the chaos in the country. They are also known to target diplomatic missions from various western nations including America.
A peace agreement was once signed between many conflicting terrorist groups in 2015, but it has failed. Hence, Americans are largely told to abstain from visiting Mali.
The US government has maintained that it’s unable to provide emergency services to citizens in two thirds of the country. Even pilots flying over the country have been issued special warnings due to the civil unrest in the country.
Violent crime is also common in Mali which is why tourists are routinely kidnapped in the country. 26 travel warnings have been issued to Americans regarding Mali in the past 8 years.
This may be perhaps the last country you’d expect to see on this list, but 28 travel warnings have been issued for Mexico. The warnings by the State Department, in this case, have been regionally specific.
They target areas where crime syndicates have popped up and have become heavily active. However, tourist destinations like Mexico City and the Yucatan peninsula are regarded as safe.
The number of Americans killed in Mexico far outnumber those killed in other countries. Of the 1356 Americans that have been killed abroad, nearly 50% have been killed in Mexico.
This can also be attributed to the fact that far more Americans travel to Mexico than other countries.
Despite this ranking, I wouldn’t necessarily avoid Mexico as a destination. For example, I spent time in Oaxaca a few years back, and it was an amazing place where I felt completely safe. Definitely check the travel warnings when planning your specific destination, though!