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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Dangerous Destinations: 92% of the Most Lethal Cities Are in the Americas

Equatorial Guinea isn’t even on the list. 9 of 10 countries represented are from the Americas.

All but four of the world’s 50 most dangerous cities are in North and South America, judging by homicides per capita. What does this say about the wild west? Too many guns, too much drugs, too many powerful gangs and too weak governments, perhaps?

Your mother will probably still certainly be happy about you going on holiday to North America, and probably to South America too. But just ponder about visiting countries in Africa or the Middle East, and she is likely to go absolutely bonkers and threaten to remove you from her will. As if that would matter much, should the worst come to worst.

Brazil is by far the worst, with almost half the cities on the list. But let’s look a little bit closer on the list published by Business Insider. Ten countries appear on it, 9 of which are in the Americas. The only other country present is South Africa with four cities. Do note that countries at war are not present, which explains the absence of i.e. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

1. Brazil: 21 cities

45.29 homices per 100,000 people, on average

No surprise, perhaps. The economy is in shambles and the country has a long tradition for violent gangs and shady favelas. Many homicides are related to robberies, there are a lot of kidnappings and gangs and gang violence is widespread. It may be more surprising that killings by police officers are now the second cause of violent death in the country. It totally makes sense to award the country the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games.

2. Venezuela: 8 cities

64.08 homicides per 100,000 people, on average

The economy is down the drains following low oil prices. Throw in its importance as a transit country for drug, and you sort of get the picture. Most homicides are caused by firearms, most victims are men and most die nearby their home – typically in the poor and rough favelas.

3. Mexico: 5 cities

51.74 homices per 100,000 people, on average

This is one of the most important drug suppliers in the world, and even more so now when Mexican drug cartels have increased power over “colleagues” in South America. The government’s war on drugs has increased violence, and widespread corruption in police and local governments will see this continue for a long time. Of course, most of this is due to the huge and important market just north of its border.

4. USA: 4 cities

49.89 homicides per 100,000 people, on average

You wouldn’t expect to see the US here, would you? Then again, this is the only country where the number of guns exceed the number of people. That may explain why two thirds of homicides here are coducted using a firearm. And the 320 million people here make it a major market for drugs from Mexico in the south.

5. South Africa: 4 cities

41.91 homicides per 100,000 people, on average

The only country outside the Americas on this list. Poverty and unequality certainly contributes in the country where you are more likely to discuss which security company patrols your house than whoever provides your phone contract or your electricity. The normalisation of violence, among the world’s highest rape rates combined with a corrupt and ineffective judicial system doesn’t help much, either.

6. Colombia: 3 cities

55.91 homicides per 100,000, on average

Drug production and trafficking is again often to blame. Add the long lasting civil war, kidnappings and corruption, and the picture turns rather nasty.

7. Honduras: 2 cities

92.27 homicides per 100,000 people, on average

Its location is partly to blame, as with several of the other countries in Central America. It sits between the drug in South America and the buyers of it in the US. Neighbouring Guatemala and Mexico are also on this list, neither are exactly known to be peaceful havens. A lot of the violence is committed by the notorious gangs that operate here and that use violence to show off their power.

8. El Salvador

108.54 homicides per 100,000 people in the one city on the list

Holding the dubious title as the most violent country in the western hemisphere says it all. 6,640 murders in 2015 is not much to brag about. And security forces are surprisingly involved in most human rights abuse complaints.

9. Guatemala

47.17 homicides per 100,000 people in the one city on the list

Guatemala City is known for fierce criminal cartels with too much power. It doesn’t help that the country is in the middle of the drug supply route from South America to the US either. Add human and drug trafficking, and there is a lot of bad news. Unfortunately very few of murders, below 5%, end up in convictions.

10. Jamaica

41.14 homicides per 100,000 people in the one city on the list

Kingston has “always” had a reputation for being rather rough. And, as usual, gangs and drugs are to blame.

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