Twelve of the World's Most Dangerous Countries: A Very Brief Tour
Thinking of traveling abroad or just interested in what's really
going on in the rest of the world? The U.S. Department of State
issues warnings to let you know which countries you are best off
avoiding (or leaving if you are already there) due to very dangerous
conditions involving crime, terrorism, security, health and more.
What follows are 12 of the world's most dangerous countries as
of May 2005, ranked by the date they were added to the list (most
recent first), according to the Department of State. (Not included
on this list containing explanations are countries whose danger
status is well-known to most Americans, such as Iraq, though they
are included in the second list.)
Terrorist groups around the world have made travel to certain
countries extremely dangerous.
Haiti is in the midst of a volatile security situation, including
"the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations
between armed groups." The main problem appears to be the lack
of an effective police force in much of the country, which leaves
a very high potential for:
Intermittent roadblocks set up by armed gangs or police
Random violent crime, including kidnapping, carjacking and
Nigeria's lack of law and order, combined with a high potential
for violent crimes and fraudulent activity, make it highly unstable.
Crimes are committed by regular criminals, as well as people in
police and military uniforms, throughout the country. Kidnapping
for ransom, particularly of people "associated with the petroleum
sector," is common. Other dangers in the country include:
Isolated communal violence that erupts without warning due
to religious tension between Muslim and Christian communities
Violence between rival ethnic groups
Robberies by armed gangs on rural roads and those in major
Taxis, which may be run by criminals and vehicles may
Roads may be poorly maintained
Nigerian airlines may be poorly maintained and "inadequate
to ensure passenger safety"
Fee fraud and scams that target foreigners and pose great risk
of financial loss
- Senior al-Qaida leaders have expressed interest in overthrowing
the Nigerian government, and links between Nigerians and al-Qaida
were uncovered in 2004
3. Saudi Arabia
Terrorist activity directed against Americans is possible (even
the United States Mission post in Saudi Arabia is unoccupied for
this reason). Terrorist groups may target housing compounds and
other areas where Westerners may be present, along with Saudi government
facilities. Car bombs and armed assaults involving multiple gunmen
have targeted these compounds, and terrorists have "used ambush
attacks to kidnap and/or assassinate individual Westerners."
Violence and terrorist actions against Americans are possible throughout
the country: "Attacks could occur at any time and could be
directed against any location ... " Potential targets include
those visited by foreigners and other "identifiably American"
places including hotels, clubs, shopping centers, restaurants, housing
compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools or
public recreation events. Attacks against individual Americans are
Further, Americans have been advised to avoid traveling to northern
parts of the island of Sumatra, particularly the province of Aceh,
because of extensive damage caused by the December
2004 earthquake and tsunami, much of which has yet to be restored.
Extremist groups in Yemen and other countries on this list
may target Americans or American interests for kidnapping
or other attacks.
Terrorist activities in Yemen make the security threat high. Extremist
individuals or groups may attack Americans or American facilities
and businesses, particularly in crowds, hotels and restaurants,
during demonstrations or while driving in urban centers.
Violent activity by narcoterrorist groups and other criminals in
urban, rural and border areas of the country are high. Americans
could be victim to threats, kidnappings and other violence. Violence
related to illegal drug trade is also high.
Terrorist attacks against Americans, particularly around areas where
Westerners are known to frequent, remain high. Also, landmines and
unexploded ordnance in south Lebanon and other areas remain a significant
8. Central African Republic
In March 2003, rebel forces took over the government of the Central
African Republic, and the group's leader named himself president.
He remains in power today, and despite peaceful elections in March
2005, Americans could be at risk, particularly during public gatherings.
Armed robberies along roads outside of the capitol have also been
9. Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Though terrorist attacks in Israel have declined, the threat of
violence remains high. "Israeli security services report that
they are investigating between 40 and 60 planned terrorist attacks
at any given time." Many occur due to resentment against peace
efforts and ongoing Israeli military operations. Further, the U.S.
government has received information that American interests in Israel
could be attacked. These include U.S. official buildings as well
as restaurants, businesses, etc. Commercial and downtown areas,
including shopping areas, public transportation of all kinds, pedestrian
zones, as well as demonstrations, are also a major risk.
10. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)
Wide-scale civil unrest over the next several months may occur as
a national elections schedule is implemented. Further, unofficial
armed groups and active duty troops are responsible for "pillaging,
vehicle thefts, carjackings, extra-judicial killings, rapes, kidnappings,
ethnic tensions, and continued military/paramilitary operations."
Other risks include:
Travelers to this country commonly experience difficulties
at the airport and other ports of entry, and may be temporarily
detained or required to pay unofficial "special fees"
Sporadic attacks by uncontrolled militias in the rural eastern
Terrorist activity directed against American citizens and interests
remains a threat due to Al-Qaida and Taliban elements that operate
in the country, along with indigenous sectarian and militant groups.
Vulnerable targets include facilities where Americans congregate,
such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools,
or outdoor recreation events.
Clashes between pro-government and opposition forces, along with
the resignation of some members of the Kyrgyz government, have made
the country highly unstable and added to the potentially dangerous
security situation for Americans. Further, increased activity of
extremist groups in the area, including the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida,
may be planning terrorist acts against U.S. government facilities,
Americans or American interests. Neighboring areas have experienced
suicide bombers and other terrorist tactics.
More Dangerous Countries?
The following countries are also part of the U.S. Department of
State's Travel Warnings list. If you're looking for information
on a country that's not listed here, or would like more information
on one that is, the Department offers consular
information sheets for every country in the world.
- Côte d'Ivoire
Department of State
Most Dangerous Destinations 2005