Some of the most breathtaking areas of the world are unfortunately riddled with crime, conflict and violence. It is therefore practical for travelers to investigate the crime status of various locales around the world before getting tempted by what you perceive to be adventure and unexplored beauty. With this in mind we have compiled a list of the 10 most dangerous cities in the world as of the end of the year 2012.
1. Grozny, Chechnya, Russia
The never ending Chechnya - Russia conflict has left Grozny in tatters after missile and artillery strikes bombarded the city for years on end - with the death toll running into the thousands, and untold economic damage. Even after the official ceasefire in 2006, it is still a very dangerous place with an economy thats left in ruin, and a citizenry willing to go to any means necessary to mend their wounds. Its high kidnapping rates especially pose a threat to western tourists.
2. Bogota, Colombia
Illegal drug trade and extremist groups trying to overthrow the Colombian government make Bogota a city where you are always on someones radar, and spontaneous violence a highly likely occurrence Since the 90's, certain safety measures have been enacted making the north side of the city a relatively safer region, and it is advisable to stay within its confines. Bogota is otherwise a great tourist destination.
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Picturesque landscapes and breathtaking sights hide a brutal urban battleground and one of the highest crime rates of any metropolitan area in the world. With one-fifth of its population living in slums, and most of the economic activity in these areas based around contraband, Rio is a city that sees increasing police-mafia conflicts, and gang related violence. Tourists and travelers are advised caution at nights, and to absolutely stay clear of the poorer regions and the shanty towns.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
Similar to Rio, Cape Town while being a major tourist attraction and a shoppers paradise, is also known for its extremely high crime rates. Unlike Rio though, the criminal activity does not involve contraband, but is statistically primarily petty crimes incited by the ever-widening income gap between the spectrum of socio-economic groups in the city. Tourists are advised caution on dimly lit streets, poorer neighborhoods and while operating ATMs.
5. Baghdad, Iraq
After the trauma of the iraq war, Baghdad finds itself mired in political turmoil, with opposing parties resorting to even openly violent displays to assert their authority. The pathetic state of infrastructure, destroyed by various wars over the years leaves little hope for economic activity to offer a way out atleast in the near future. Domestic Hostilities escalated after the city was factionalised by US military strategy during their war on Iraq.
6. Caracas, Venezuela
Venezuela is a well known drug trafficking haven, and Caracas is invariably the hotspot for illegal activity. Criminal activity has become so much an everyday feature of the city that petty crimes and robbery are a common sight, and so is retaliation for such crimes. The police are virtually invisible, and most locals point the finger at the government which is far more concerned about enriching its coffers from its foreign exchange and oil revenues, than it is with the state of the domestic economy and security.
7. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Ciudad Juarez takes the biggest hit from the drug cartel activity in mexico.The proximity to the USA, makes mexico the primary source of illegal drugs crossing the border, and competition is intense among rival groups. A corrupt and ineffective police force, turns that illegal competition into brutal bloodshed and many compare the city to a war zone. Local residents blame both the inaction of the Mexican government and the hard-line stance that the US government takes on its war on drugs that has a cascading effect across the border.
8. Mogadishu, Somalia
Somalia was always a country that respected its traditional legal system, called the Xeer, which created multiple centers of power spread across many villages. While infighting was common, and civil wars did erupt, the brutal violence that is now characteristic of this once peaceful country began as the UN made efforts to centralize the region. Immediately the various chiefs in the area saw a threat if the other was allowed to ascend to power, and the capital city of Mogadishu in particular has since degenerated into a perpetual battle zone. A lack of understanding of Somalian traditions and culture, and increasing foreign pressures and intrusions on domestic soil as well as its coastline, originally led renegade Somalians to take up arms to protect themselves. This has slowly created an atmosphere of violence and hostility, with a winner takes all mentality.
9. San Pedro Sula, Honduras
With the highest murder rate in the world, and a track record for violence that will make the middle east, and Afghanistan feel a lot better about themselves, this is one city that should not even figure on your to-do list. All disputes, whether major inter-group violence or minor disputes, are settled at gunpoint, with illegal gun ownership a given for every citizen who cares to protect himself. Foreign tourists, in particular, have been known to be a target.
10. Guatemala City, Guatemala
Guatemala city displays all the characteristics of the cities mentioned above in one place - illegal drug trade, inter-gang violence, ineffective police, uncaring government, wide gap between rich and poor resulting in petty crime and spontaneous violence. The streets of Guatemala city are a dangerous place to be, with both government and mafia equally capable of putting you at risk. A pity, for what is otherwise a beautiful country.