The Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in The World

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in The World

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Business, Corporate Security, Security

According to the 2023 Global Peace Index, the average level of country peacefulness has been deteriorating over nine consecutive years. Political instability, gang violence, and internal conflicts are among the key contributors to decreasing levels of safety. 

Let’s explore some of the most dangerous cities in the world where residents and visitors face the highest risks and analyze the violent crime trends. 

What Makes a City Dangerous? 

The most common contributing factors to a city’s safety include: 

  • Crime rates – Violent crimes, such as homicide, armed robbery, manslaughter, and aggravated assault, significantly impact a city’s safety. High crime rates will contribute to residents and visitors feeling unsafe, anxious, and even socially isolated. 
  • Law enforcement When there’s little trust in the police, crimes are not reported and will continue to rise since offenders are not held accountable. Distrust in law enforcement can result from corruption, negligence, and abuse of power. 
  • Organized crime – Gang violence is a significant contributor to public safety. Even in ‘safe’ cities, gang violence among 15 – 20-year-olds is rising, as many young people are drawn towards gangs when needing protection, seeking financial gain, or succumbing to peer pressure. 
  • Economic factors – Unemployment, inequality, poverty, and other socioeconomic factors can lead to social unrest and tension. As much of the city’s population feels they have to resort to illegal activities to survive, the city itself becomes more dangerous. 
  • Political corruption – Corruption within government institutions undermines public trust and confidence in the system. Engaging in practices such as money laundering, fraud, bribery, and embezzlement can result in fewer criminals going unpunished, further increasing a city’s crime rates.  

What Are The Most Dangerous Cities in The World? 

Based on homicide rate, the prevalence of organized crime, political corruption, and overall safety concerns, here are ten places that stand out among the 100 most dangerous cities in the world:

1. Zamora, Mexico

Population – 268,818

Homicide rate – 178 per 100,000 inhabitants (as of 2022

As one of the most violent cities in the world, Zamora regularly gains attention in the media for organized crime, as the city falls victim to various cartels that compete for control over drug production facilities. While the Mexican government is actively attempting to dismantle cartels to prevent drug trafficking, the presence of organized crime is continuing to evoke feelings of fear and unsafety among the city’s inhabitants.

Zamora currently has the highest murder rate in the world and sees a range of other serious crimes, such as kidnappings, shootings, and aggravated assault. 

2. Celaya, Mexico

Population – 718,000

Homicide rate – 109 per 100,000 inhabitants 

Celaya is known to be the most dangerous place for law enforcement in North America. As the city refused to follow orders from the Mexican president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, to not confront the cartels, Celaya’s police force is being targeted. Police officer murders in the city continue to rise, and cartels are reportedly recruiting younger members, with half of all suspects arrested being ages between 14 and 24 years old. 

3. Tijuana, Mexico

Population – 2,297,216

Homicide rate – 134 per 100,000 inhabitants

Another city that suffers from cartel violence in Mexico is Tijuana. As this city borders the US, organized crime groups fight for control over smuggling routes. In 2023, the mayor of Tijuana, Montserrat Cabllaer, was forced to move into an army base after receiving violent threats that occurred after her administration’s efforts to seize weapons and arrest violent suspects. 

However, despite high levels of violence, Tijuana’s economy is still growing and attracting foreign investors. 

4. Ciudad Obregón, Mexico

Population – 436,484 

Homicide rate – 138 per 100,000 inhabitants

Cartel turf wars also impact the Mexican city of Ciudad Obergón. This city regularly experiences shootings between gunmen that often result in the injury or death of bystanders. Reports have also shown a growing trend in organized crime groups hiding the bodies of their victims across the city, potentially lowering the recorded homicide rates. 

5. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Population – 1,604,000

Homicide rate – 67 per 100,000 inhabitants

Described as the epicenter of violence in Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez regularly sees waves of homicides and other serious crimes. This is often a result of organized crime, as gangs are engaging in synthetic drug trafficking and recruiting young people to join their war against the city’s government. 

6. St Louis, United States of America

Population – 272,673 

Homicide rate – 66 per 100,000 inhabitants

With the highest murder rate in the US, St Louis is a highly dangerous city that is fueled by gun violence. The city’s limited gun control measures and high levels of juvenile crime contribute to feelings of unease among residents. 

However, the city’s government is actively implementing public safety initiatives to make St Louis a safer place to live and visit. This includes passing bills to regulate the open carry of guns and providing mentorship programs to aid those in the city’s marginalized communities.

7. Caracas, Venezuela

Population – 2,991,727 

Homicide rate – 90 per 100,000 inhabitants

Many areas in Caracas are associated with high crime levels, even popular tourist attractions. Gang members often target areas with minimal police presence to rob victims at gunpoint. Another common crime in this city includes ‘express kidnapping,’ a type of opportunistic abduction where a victim is held while the criminals use their bank cards to withdraw money. Once all money is stolen from the victim, they are usually released.   

8. Natal, Brazil

Population – 751,300 

Homicide rate – 75 per 100,000 inhabitants

Natal, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, is Brazil’s most dangerous city. Deaths as a result of violent crimes are rising, and gang presence is widespread. Incidents of arson, burglary, and armed robberies continue to shake the city’s residents.

It’s believed by authorities that imprisoned gang leaders are orchestrating the attacks to protest inhumane living conditions. It’s also been reported that inmates in the state’s prisons are subject to torture, overcrowding, and various psychological punishments. 

9. Feira de Santana, Brazil

Population – 556,080 

Homicide rate – 63 per 100,000 inhabitants

Another highly dangerous city in Brazil is Feira de Santana. This city is home to many businesses and has emerged as a central hub for commercial activities in the state of Bahia. However, this has led to an increase in drug trafficking, among other gang-related criminal activity. Residents in the city regularly report crimes such as aggravated assault, car theft, and armed robbery. 

10. Cape Town, South Africa

Population – 4,890,000

Homicide rate – 63 per 100,000 inhabitants 

Cape Town struggles with poverty and drug abuse, which contribute to the city’s prevalent crimes. Armed robberies, burglaries, and carjacking are much more common in this city compared to most other places in South Africa. 

Along the Western side of the city, gang-related violence is also widespread, where homicides, shoot-outs, and other crimes pose a significant risk to residents. Even tourists have been reportedly captured and murdered in Cape Town, and the city has been labeled as a ‘no-go zone’ in countries such as the UK.   

Other Most Dangerous Cities in the World

Here are more cities that are considered highly dangerous based on their crime rates. 

Mossoró, Brazil

Salvador, Brazil 

Durban, South Africa 

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Kingston, Jamacia

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 

Cali, Colombia 

Cuernavaca, Mexico

Manaus, Brazil 

Acapulco, Brazil 

Dangerous Cities in America

The US is home to various cities that, due to political instability, gang violence, poverty, and other factors, are dangerous for residents and tourists. 

At number 21 is New Orleans, with 52 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Labeled as America’s Murder Capital, New Orleans suffers from shootings, carjackings, and armed robberies, among other serious crimes. 

Despite homicide rates dropping in recent years, Detroit is still considered one of the more dangerous cities in the country. Homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and drug offenses are the most common crimes in this city, putting it at number 34 on our list. 

In 2022, number 45, Memphis experienced 2,420 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. These crimes included homicide, manslaughter, robbery, and aggravated assault. Entering 2024, crime rates continue to rise in Memphis, solidifying its place as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. 

According to statistics, there is a 1 in 64 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Baltimore. In 2023, crime in this city was steadily declining. However, it still retains its position at 67 on our dangerous city list. 

Find out more about safety levels in America with our comprehensive list of the county’s top 100 most dangerous cities.

Other countries with several cities that landed on our top 100 list include Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Guatemala, and El Salvador. 

Making Most Dangerous Cities in the World Feel Safer

Several contributing factors influence a city’s safety levels. Although some governments are employing crime prevention strategies to protect the public, others are losing battles with large-scale cartels and other criminal organizations. 

Addressing the root causes of high crime levels, such as political corruption, inequality, discrimination, and distrust in law enforcement, is vital. While reporting crimes to the police can lead to consequences for offenders, some cities lack deterrence measures, further contributing to a dangerous environment. 

In many cases, preventative security measures, such as high-quality surveillance and access control systems, can help to prevent crimes and promote a sense of safety among city residents.

If you’re concerned that your business is in a potentially unsafe area, you can turn to a trusted security service to put you, your employees, and your customers at ease. Contact us today to discover how we can help you mitigate risk and increase safety throughout your business’s premises.

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