Over 22 million tourists, and another 20 million cruise
ship passengers, flock to the Caribbean islands each year
to take advantage of the sun, the endless miles of coastline
and the tropical "no worries" environment.
The Caribbean's average murder rate is 30 per 100,000
people, compared with seven per 100,000 in the United
But there is a growing dark cloud that's threatening all
of the Caribbean's clear, blue seas: a swiftly growing crime
rate that now rivals some of the most infamous and unstable
regions in the world, like southern and western Africa.
The Caribbean is Now the Murder Capital of the World
"High rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are
undermining growth, threatening human welfare, and impeding
social development," according to a new report by the
World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The report, "Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends,
Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean," found that
murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than in any other
region in the world.
Overall, murders occur in the Caribbean at a rate of 30 per
100,000 people. Comparably, in East Europe, murder rates are
at 17 per 100,000, in the United States, seven.
Assault rates in the Caribbean are also significantly above
the world average, and rates of rape, kidnapping and other
violent crimes have also been on the rise, according to the
Most of the crime in the Caribbean stems from massive narcotics
trafficking, which helps spur crime rates in the following
Diverts police and other resources away from other important
Increases and brings in violence
Undermines social and community unity
Increases addiction-related crimes
Increases the availability of firearms
The crime is threatening the region's image as a "paradise,"
which is seriously undermining their tourist industry. Meanwhile,
if murder rates were reduced by one-third, the report found,
per capita economic growth in the region could be doubled.
And in Haiti and Jamaica, a reduction in murder rates could
boost annual economic growth by 5.4 percent.
Despite the rising crime rates, the U.S. Department
of State says that most people who visit the Caribbean
have a safe trip.
Although the report points out that small countries in the
Caribbean can get high murder rates from a relatively small
number of incidents, the authors noted that crime levels are
definitely rising to concerning levels.
Is it Safe to Travel to the Caribbean?
Despite the high crime rates, the majority of visitors to
the Caribbean have a safe trip, according to the U.S. Department
of State. You should still, of course, exercise
commonsense precautions when traveling anywhere, and remember
to be extra careful around the Caribbean beaches, as drowning
is one of the leading causes of death for Americans in the
Caribbean, according to the Department of State.
If you are thinking of planning a trip, which islands are
the safest and the most dangerous? Here we've compiled a guide
to some of the safer and riskier Caribbean islands.
If you are planning to travel the Caribbean by cruise
ship, remember that you can minimize your risk of catching
and other contagious illnesses on board the ship by
Hand Wipes. They're small enough to carry in your
pocket, yet effective enough to kill contaminants that
can't be seen with the naked eye (and you can use them
wet or dry)!
Generally Safer Caribbean Islands
These islands have a reputation for being among the safest
in the region:
Potentially Dangerous Caribbean Islands
Haiti: The poorest and most unstable country in
the region. The U.S. Department of State has issued a
warning for Haiti because of frequent violent kidnappings
of Americans for ransom.
Jamaica: Criminal acts are a major problem and
can rapidly turn violent. According to the Department
of State, "Visitors should exercise common sense,
not walk around at night, and use only licensed taxis
or hotel-recommended transportation. Valuables should
not be left unattended anywhere, including hotel rooms
and the beach, and care should be taken when carrying
high value items such as cameras, wearing expensive jewelry,
or displaying large amounts of cash on the street."
Trinidad and Tobago: Murder and other violent
crimes are increasing (though Tobago is typically much
safer than Trinidad). The Department of State suggests
that travelers may not want to travel alone in the area.
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Department of State