These Are The Most Dangerous Countries For American Tourists

Tyler Durden's picture

By Priceonomics Data Studio

Each year, the State Department issues dozens of advisories with the intent of keeping Americans safe as they travel abroad. What countries are targeted by these advisories, and what risks do Americans face by visiting them? Are State Department advisories effective in keeping American travelers safe?

We decided to investigate what are the most dangerous countries for American to visit as measured by State Department warnings and also by actual deaths. We used data from Priceonomics customer, a platform that ties many different data sets together so it's easy to analyze them (you can download their dataset here).

We found that Mexico, Mali, and Israel have been targeted by the most travel advisories in recent years, but that Americans are more likely to face life-threatening danger in Thailand, Pakistan, and Honduras. Indeed, warnings and deadly violence are correlated on the whole. And fortunately, some travelers - at least those headed to the Philippines or Egypt - seem to heed these advisories, as those countries see dropoffs in tourism following warnings.


We began by identifying the countries that are most often targeted by U.S. State Department travel advisories. The State Department has multiple mechanisms for advising American travelers, but we focused just on Travel Warnings, which are issued when lasting turmoil in a country poses such a danger that the State Department discourages any travel there at all. 

We filtered out warnings that had been issued for natural disasters, then ranked countries based on the number of Travel Warnings issued against them in an 8-year period between 2009 and 2017. We display the top 25 below.


Mexico tops the list with 28 warnings in an 8-year period. It’s worth noting that these warnings are regionally specific, targeting sites where crime syndicates are particularly active. Popular tourist destinations like Mexico City and the Yucatán peninsula (including Cancún) are generally regarded as safe.

Most other countries on this ranking are participants in ongoing international conflicts (e.g., Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan), or are sites in which extremist groups regularly carry out terrorist attacks (e.g., Mali, Nigeria, Syria).

North Korea is an interesting exception, as the government itself presents a danger to American travelers. According to the State Department, foreigners are liable to be jailed for unspecified reasons, or for seemingly innocuous infractions like interacting with the locals or taking unauthorized photos. 

How do State Department warnings square with the actual likelihood of crime abroad? Reliable, global data on crime is difficult to come by, but the State Department tracks the incidence and causes of American deaths abroad. We used that dataset to identify countries where Americans are most likely to experience life-threatening danger while traveling.

In the table below, we rank the foreign countries in which the most Americans were killed between 2009 and 2016. Before ranking, we filtered the data to include only homicides, executions, deaths in terrorist attacks, and drug-related deaths. 


In general, a violent death abroad is extremely unlikely. Between 2009 and 2013, 1,151 Americans - out of a population of 316 million - were killed abroad. For comparison, 15,809 homicides occurred in the U.S. in 2014 alone.

Of the 1,356 killings that occurred abroad, 1,193 (88%) happened in the 25 countries listed above. And just one country, Mexico, accounted for 50% of those deaths.

Of course, more Americans die in Mexico because vastly more Americans travel to Mexico than any other country. This holds true to a lesser degree for some of the other countries near the top of this ranking, including the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

With that in mind, we adjusted our ranking to account for the volume of tourism from the U.S. We calculated the number of Americans murdered in a country per 100,000 American tourists, using travel numbers from a dataset gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. We excluded any country that received fewer than 100,000 American visitors between 2009 and 2016. 


Adjusting for travel volume shuffles our ranking, if not drastically changing it; 16 of the 25 countries listed here also appear on our ranking of countries by absolute number of American deaths.

Pakistan and Thailand jumped to the top of the list, each with a handful of deaths in a relatively small pool of tourists. 

Surprisingly, there is only modest overlap between this ranking and the set of countries receiving the most travel warnings. Of the top 10 countries ranked here, only 4?—?Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Mexico?—?were among the top 25 countries targeted by travel warnings.

This led us to wonder about the connection between State Department warnings and American death abroad. Does the State Department issue more warnings for a country if Americans are more likely to be killed there? To find out, we correlated the number of Travel Warnings issued for each country with number of Americans (per 100,000 travelers) killed there. 


On the whole, there is a significant relationship between the number of American deaths abroad per capita and the number of travel warnings a country receives (r = 0.56, p = <.001).

But within this chart, we identified some interesting patterns. In some countries, the number of Travel Warnings a country receives does scale with the number of deaths. In others, no warnings are issued even while the risk of death is relatively high. In still others, many warnings are issued even though most Americans pass through the country intact. 

In which countries are warnings well correlated with the risk of death? In which are they not? In the rankings below, we identify 5 countries that exemplify each pattern.


A relatively high number of American travelers die in the countries in the left-most ranking above. Accordingly, these nations are often targeted by State Department warnings.

The center ranking features countries where warnings are “under-issued;” the risk of death is relatively high for Americans, but no warnings were issued in the 8-year period we examined. This ranking consists mainly of Central and South American countries where roughly 1 in every 100,000 U.S. travelers will be killed.

Finally, the countries in the right-most ranking are often targeted by warnings, but Americans have a low risk of facing life-threatening danger while visiting them. This may have to do with a regional pattern of unrest; in Turkey, for instance, tourists visiting the southeast may be subject to terrorist attacks spilling over from Syria, while travelers to Istanbul are comparatively safe.

Alternatively, few Americans may die in these countries because they are heeding the high number of Travel Warnings these nations receive. This raises the question of how travel advisories impact tourist behavior. Does traffic to a country drop after the State Department targets it with a Travel Warning?

To find out, we again put the Bureau of Transportation Statistics dataset to work, this time comparing travel numbers in the 6-month periods immediately preceding and immediately following the issuance of a Travel Warning. For this analysis, we only considered countries that had received at least 3 warnings.


Egypt sees the largest drop-off in travel after a warning is issued with a 34% decrease in travel. Thailand travel appears to follow a similar trend; when warnings are issued, American travel to Thailand drops by 15%.

Travel declines modestly in Israel and Venezuela after the issuance of a warning, even though neither country lands a spot on our top 25 nations by American deaths per capita.

And strangely, travel to Ukraine, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia rises by more than 10% after a warning is issued.

Overall, American don’t appear to be especially sensitive to State Department warnings. Of the 16 countries we featured here, double-digit travel change was seen for seen for only 5, and those changes could be driven by many other factors.


For simplicity, we restricted our analysis to just one advisory mechanism - the U.S. State Department Travel Warning - and one outcome measure - American deaths abroad. It’s possible different trends would have emerged if we had considered other data sources. But given these constraints, what did we see?

In absolute terms, more American tourists are killed in Mexico than in any other foreign country. This is partly owing to the strong flow of tourism between the U.S. and Mexico; when figures are adjusted to account for the volume of tourism, Pakistan rises to the top of the heap, with roughly 4 deaths per 100,000 travelers.

Despite this, Thailand does not rank among the top 25 countries for travel warnings. In general, warnings are not strongly correlated with American deaths abroad: countries like Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are relatively safe despite being subject to numerous warnings, and the converse is true in Belize, Guatemala, and Guyana.

Even warnings that are well correlated with violence are only valuable if travelers heed them, and tourism appears largely insensitive to travel advisories. In approximately half the countries we considered, tourism shifted by no more than 2% after issuance of a warning.

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wisehiney's picture

They love you snowflakes.

Go discover just how much.

knukles's picture

Know why Mexicans re-fry beans?
'Cause they can't get it right the first time.

Troll Magnet's picture

600 Americans killed in Mexico...Come on now. Were they really "Americans" or just folks visiting their motherland?

Delving Eye's picture

I get why someone would want to go to Mexico, but North Korea? Who in their right mind ... ?

Looney's picture


Beware of Tourrorists.  ;-)


TeamDepends's picture

Huh, Chicongo didn't make the list?

Keyser's picture

Funny, I live in Thailand and it is MUCH safer here than any major metropolis in the USSA... Hell, I can walk anywhere in Bangkok at 3:00am without the fear of being attacked by anyone, whereas I would never dream of doing this in ANY major US city... So much for State Dept statistics... 

Bay Area Guy's picture

I wondered the same thing about Thailand.  I have never felt unsafe there.  Nor have I felt unsafe in any of the other countries I've visited in Asia, including Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.  I didn't feel physically threatened in China, but I certainly felt health threatened in China.  That is one country in serious need of hygiene improvements.

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Bay Area Guy Mar 17, 2017 11:12 PM

I've been to most of those countries, but I did it in the 70s early 80s.

I said to myself, "Do I want to travel while I am young, beautiful and filled with energy or do I want to look out the window of a tour bus when I am old?"


I worked on a couple of cruise ships too for 5 yrs and world cruise brings on the 80 yr old rich. One couple gave me their camera and asked me to take pics when I went ashore for them. It was sad.

I sort of didn't do that well financially but boy did I have fucking FUN! ...:)

blahzay's picture

Nice memories, Chris.  Similar good things happened to me in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and Australia in '65-'68 during the war when I served there.  People went out of their way to explain their country and themselves.  Once on a train to Tokyo a group of high school girls approached me and asked to sit with me to practice their English.  That was a laughing riot and a 2-hour train ride turned into 2 minutes.  

Oldrepublic's picture

This relates to a British expat in China, not a tourist, but it is a very colorful story of how Neil Heywood got murdered in China by the wife of a Chinese power couple. murder in the lucky holiday hotel

land_of_the_few's picture

Mr "007 License Plates on his Jaguar"? He was hardly innocent or uninvolved himself in that incident. And if I recall correctly the wife fessed up properly and took full responsibility for her actions, i.e. "I did a bad thing, it is my fault" very much unlike what a Westerner would do, none of their usual "I'm innocent, Guv'nor" bull.

Killdo's picture

I believe you - I've been around the world - I think the US is the least safe. In London or Paris there are more muggings especially for women. London could be maybe more dangerous and dirtier. I've walked across Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Melbourne...many other places at 3am - never had any issues, Today I walked around San Francisco and I saw a guy on Filmore St on one of the best parts of SF injecting heroin at around noon, sitting on abench right next to expensive shops and restaurants. I see broken windshields and car windows pretty much every day - and human shit on sidewalks. Once I saw a guy shitting in front of Twitter HQ aroudn noon

Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) Killdo Mar 17, 2017 9:35 PM

So let me get this straight... Mexico is the most dangerous place for Americans to visit (which, I suppose, is why we need more undocumented Mexicans in this country).


I guess that makes sense... In some kinda liberal minded haze of logic.

stacking12321's picture

ok, i will let you get it straight.

but from your comment, it's clear that you haven't got it straight, so come back when you do.

hope_talk's picture
hope_talk (not verified) stacking12321 Mar 18, 2017 7:07 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do...

BurningFuld's picture

He did mention drug overdoses were included which could account for many of the deaths in Thailand. Party Time!!!!!

TheVillageIdiot's picture

Concur except for Paris. Not so now or for the last two years. Quite dangerous even in the higher end 7th 8th Rondissement (Left Bank - ultra high end). Chicago - far deadlier (shame, one of my favourite cities in years past).



Bigly's picture


Paris is no longer the Paris of even 5-10 years ago.

A pathetic shame

truthseeker47's picture

SF the Sanctuary City, dirty and dangerous?  Imagine that.  Shocking.

Gen. Ripper's picture

Lucky prick - you know Soi Cowboy, Suhkumvit?

Sector Catalyst's picture

Anyone that has gone to Bangkok knows these areas well.  

Madcow Kaczynski's picture

Careful, Ripper, the chicks grow dicks at midnight haha

Keyser's picture

Yeah, I know Cowboy, but it's a tourist trap with high prices and shitty attitudes... Once you live here and poot passah Thai (speak Thai), you don't need the bars because there are poo ying suay (beautiful women) literally everywhere... Every red-blooded male should visit Thailand at least once... If for no other reason than to realize that you don't have to put up with the bullshit dealt to men in the west... 

Bay of Pigs's picture

I'm back in Pattaya right now bro. Totally safe here. Wonderful country, friendly people and outstanding food, weather, bars, shopping, etc...

I could easily live here full time and be very happy.

Keyser's picture

I lived in Jomtien for a while, but the hustle and bustle of Pattaya gets to you after a while... The same goes for Bangkok... I live in Chiang Mai now and love it... I'll be in Hua Hin and Pattaya in a couple of weeks for a little holiday... Nice to visit, but can't live there full time or my liver would kill me... 

Oldrepublic's picture

In Thailand a foreigner is called a farang.

There is a website that lists all deaths of farangs in Thailand by nationality,

quite interesting for causes of deaths, drinking, driving,swimming, suicide



katagorikal's picture

"Mr Bright had died of a heart attack shortly after the two Thai women had left his room."

Bay of Pigs's picture

Like I said, perfectly safe here but you do need to take care of yourself. Lots of big, fat slobs here who eat, drink and smoke heavily and then have sex with young beautiful women in sweltering heat sometimes have medical issues like having jammers.

buttmint's picture

Keyser, Bay of Pigs 'n Tai crew....
Funny, was reading your posts stuck in a rubber tree plantation south and east of Pattaya.

Kao Chi-Chan, the Wat Complex almost to Ban Chang. My Kawasaki's fuel pump took a hike on me. I wrote a note in passah Tai and left my motorbike and hiked out.
Glorious Huge tropical rain today -- Saturday.
You guys are correctomundo.

I only feel scared transiting back to USA.
Thailand is home, Strangely Comforting!
Lotsa fringe benefits.

As in having the lifestyle if a rockstar...yet I cannot play a luck of music...

philipat's picture

Ditto. I live in Bali Indonesia now after having travelled all over Asia and lived in Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Soeul and Hong Kong. Throughout my travels around Asia of over 40 years I have never once felt threatened and would walk around any Asian City at 3AM without reservation. In fact, in my younger days, I did spend a lot of time out and about at 3AM, especially in Bangkok and Manila; but that's another story!

Not so for any major City in the US. Perhaps the State Dept should include US Cities in its travel warnings and issue advisories for, for instance, Shitcago? Or, as a compromise, just include The US as a country in the list based on the same stats?


Keyser's picture

Fuck me, I'll never go back to the Philippines... Every time I go there they try to kill me... Manila, or anywhere in the PI is off limits to me these days and I've traveled the country from Baguio to Zamboanga... There is a reason that every convenience store and bank has a gaurd with a shotgun standng outside... 

philipat's picture

The PI was my playpen in the late 70's/early 80's when I and a lot of others used to fly down from Hong Kong for weekends (or just stay on after business trips) I can still hear the call at Kai Tak for CX903 to Manila!! In those days it was perfetly safe and Del Pilar was still at its "best". I was stuck in Manila for 3 days during the attempted coup in 1989 attending a business conference at the Mandarin. My room was facing Ayala ave. where the rebels were firing RPG's up and down the ave. But other than having an M16 tracer round ricochet off my room window, all was OK. Until the Mandarin ran out of beer!

That was an eventful year, having been ordered out of Beijing by Corporate HQ just 2 days before the Tiananmen Square events.

What the PI and US have in common is guns, of course. No so in the rest of Asia.

tyrone's picture

what is the black population of Bangkok or Thailand?

Chief Wonder Bread's picture

It's like thousands are traveling to Saudi Arabia for sex tourism lol


TemporarySecurity's picture

Chicago is not even in the top 10 most dangerous cities in America.  They rank number 15th for large cities.  They are not even in the top 100 when you include smaller cities of 25000 or more people.  The media is just running a narrative without perspective.

philipat's picture

Yes but that is distorted by using per capita data AND by including the whole of Chicagoland. The Libtard administration there knows how to abuse statistics. In terms of the actual number of murders without any (seasonal or other) adjustments, Chicago still takes the prize.

JRobby's picture

They left out Chicago 

lil dirtball's picture

> Who in their right mind ... ?

The same people who visit third world countries like Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Philly, Baltimore, LA ... etc.

Troll Magnet's picture

NKorea is a paradise for statist liberals.

Kidbuck's picture

These American Cities clearly need their own catagory: 4th World

kbohip's picture

Don't knock it.  It's a great place to pick up women.  I'm serious last time I was there I must have picked up a few dozen before someone said something.  I doubt any of them weigh over 100 pounds!

roddy6667's picture

I'll bet they were born in Mexico.

August's picture

You haven't really lived unless you've spent a week in San Pedro Sula....

scoutshonor's picture

The trick is actually remaining alive--if you make it a week and still have a pulse you get a prize.

Oldrepublic's picture

those "Americans," were Mexican-Americans visiting Mexico not white

Anglo- Saxon Americans

onthesquare's picture

that is a good point Troll.  A pertinent question is how many Mexicans were killed in the United States over that same period.


daveO's picture

...with bags full of cash?