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Murder and Mayhem Abroad

December 22nd, 2014 by Jason Hartman | Comments Off on Murder and Mayhem Abroad

If you travel for business or for pleasure, you’re probably keenly aware of the kinds of problems you can encounter abroad. There are location-specific traveler schemes, pickpockets, and airport hassles. But there can also be more sinister dangers in some countries—crimes as dangerous as murder.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization recently released their Global Status Report on Violence Prevention for 2014, and it details murder and violence across the globe.

Results from the 2012 survey indicate that there were 475,000 victims of murder, 60% males between the ages of 15 and 44. Half were murdered by way of firearm and Latin America was the region in which the highest number of people were murdered. In 2012, the rate of murder was lower than that in 2011.

Honduras: The Most Dangerous

Sadly, Honduras comes in at number one for most dangerous country, with 103.9 murders per 100,000 people there. Of these, 84% are killed by firearms. The murder rate in Honduras has seen increases over decades and often, these killers are not brought to justice. Frequently targeted are media representatives and traditionally marginalized groups.

Unfortunately, organized crime is a significant problem and collusion with law enforcement often occurs. Civilians are fairly frequently killed by police officers and Hondurans are attempting to leave the country. If they are then deported back to Honduras, they’re frequently subject to violence upon return.

Venezuela: Still Dangerous

Venezuela comes in at number two for most dangerous places, so think carefully before traveling here. There are 57.6 murders per 100,000 people and of these, 90% are firearms related. Unfortunately, police are instructed to “deal with” people who call for President Nicolas Maduro’s removal, thus increasing overall violence.

Venezuela is known to act forcefully against all protesters speaking out about the government, leading to 43 deaths.

Jamaica: Not Just for Tourists

While Jamaica has a reputation for being a fun place to lounge on the beach, it can actually be quite dangerous. Coming in at number three, Jamaica has 45.1 murders per 100,000 people and 70% of them are killed by firearms.

Unlike many dangerous countries, Jamaica has a fairly stable government, but high unemployment and increasing debt have greatly increased the amount of social tension leading to violence. While murders are 40% lower than in 2009, gang violence and overall poverty continue to contribute to the overall amount of violence in the beautiful country.

Belize: Danger at the Beach

Another beautifully beached country, Belize ranks number four for most violent/murderous country. There are 44.7 murders per 100,000 people there, and 69% are killed by firearms. While Belize remains a popular beachy tourist destination, crime has increased year by year.

Most criminal activity happens in Belize City, largely due to gang violence (the Bloods and the Crips). There aren’t enough police officers and criminals are often not persecuted.

Columbia: Nothing to Joke About

Columbia comes in at number five with 43.9 murders per 100,000 individuals. A startling 80% of them are due to firearms, and many are attributed to issues between the government and leftist insurgencies. Over 60 or so years, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of civilians have died as a result.

Combine that with right-wing groups and those who traffic drugs, and Columbia is a pretty dangerous place to be. The coffee industry has also caused a significant amount of violence.

El Salvador: Gangland

The sixth most violent country is El Salvador, tied with Columbia at 43.9 murders per 100,000 people. Of these, a high 77% die by firearm, unsurprising when 20,000 residents (of which there are only 6 million) belong to a number of gangs.

Gang rape is somewhat routinely used to control communities and people are murdered for their involvement in large drug cartels by way of Mexico. Unfortunately, children are often forced to pledge allegiance to a gang early on by gang members threatening death to them and their families.

Guatemala: Life is Worth Nothing

In Guatemala, it is often said that life is worth nothing, thanks to high rates of murder (39.9 per 100,000 people). 86% die by firearm, as many as 11-15 every day. Estimates indicate that as many as 98% of these murders and other crimes go unpunished.

The danger in Guatemala is largely attributed to extreme, widespread poverty and law enforcement who are unable or unwilling to pursue those trafficking drugs and committing gang violence.

Lesotho: A Gun Control Problem

In Lesotho, there are 37.5 murders for every 100,000 citizens, half of which are killed by firearms. While the country has strict gun control laws, they are largely ineffective because of the influx of illegal weapons from South Africa.

Criminals are extremely gun savvy and incredibly well armed, using violence to inflict pain and suffering on the community.

South Africa: Crime is on the Rise

Sadly, crime in South Africa continues to rise and much of it is violent. There are 35.7 murders per 100,000 people and firearms kill 54%. The murders happen across all age groups—children are frequently murdered at an average rate of two per day.

There are, as we mentioned in our discussion of Lesotho, a plethora of weapons available and a general disregard for the law. Because of the apartheid state, there is also massive inequality that contributes to excessive violence.

Trinidad and Tobago: Double Trouble

In Trinidad and Tobago, there are 35.3 murders per 100,000 individuals. Firearms kill a high 77% of them. The islands are controlled largely by gangs that affect nearly every part of daily life.

There isn’t an especially powerful or effective government and the gangs become there own sort of government. There are violent battles between the gangs who wish to exert control on the community and legislation has proved ineffective.


If you’re out and about this holiday season or any other, be careful out there! While a little research, a guide, and a cultural understanding can get you a long way, there’s no substitute for a little bit of caution. Visit these areas (they’re often very beautiful) but arm yourself with knowledge as Jason Hartman does.

(photo credit: YGX via photopin cc)

Read more from Jetsetter:

How to Succeed as an Expat Spouse

Buying and Selling Products: Part Two

The Jetsetter Team


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