Where skylines reach the heavens and a concrete labyrinth makes the earth, cities are a bustling tapestry of cultures, families, history, and so much more. But beyond the beautiful postcards and Instagrammable restaurants, there’s a darker side to these social landscapes — the challenge of crime. Join us as we explore ten cities with the unfortunate distinction of the highest crime rates.
1. Caracas, Venezuela
With an estimated homicide rate of 81.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, the capital city of Venezuela grapples with an alarmingly high crime rate. It ranks as one of the most dangerous cities. From gang-related violence to armed robberies and kidnappings in broad daylight, these reflect how poor the country’s social and economic state is. While there is a push for reform in the state from the government level, it will take a lot to get Caracas right to where it needs to be.
2. Acapulco, Mexico
While Mexico has a high crime rate in general, Acapulco has a homicide rate that would leave anyone staggering. With a dense 111 per 100,000 people, the once renowned tourist destination is now described as a “paradise lost” by the residents who yearn for safer times. Efforts to combat the crime and revive the city are underway. Still, with corruption spreading through every city branch, only time will tell how things go.
3. Kingston, Jamaica
By Christmas 2022, Jamaica saw an unprecedented 1,400 plus murders, leading to a state of emergency by the government to control the rising violence. With drug trafficking, poverty, and violence being the order of the day, gang violence and other squabbles lead to homicides happening frequently. The island of Jamaica might be a great vacation spot, but you might need to think twice about what city you’ll be staying in.
4. San Pedro Sula, Honduras
With a homicide rate of 62 persons per every 100,000 residents, San Pedro bears the nickname “Murder Capital of the World.” Gang violence and organized crime have carved their way through the city’s heart, and the influence of powerful criminal groups leads to a climate of fear and insecurity. Robberies, extortions, and kidnappings occur nonstop, with police having little effect on all the chaos ensuing.
5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is known for its breathtaking landscapes, beautiful and vibrant carnival, and the looming statue of Christ the Redeemer. But regardless of the messiah’s watchful gaze, the city is chock full of criminal activities, including street robberies, pickpockets, theft, and other drug-related violence. There have been efforts to curb some of these, especially during major events like the 2016 Olympics.
6. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
One citizen states that living in Moresby means being constantly vigilant, scared for your life, and wondering if your family and friends will make it home. With limited resources for law enforcement and social inequality leading to poverty and other vices, carjackings, tribal conflicts, and armed robberies run rampant in Port Moresby.
7. Pretoria, South Africa
Like many cities on this list, Pretoria wrestles with socioeconomic factors and inequality that lead to unemployment and poverty. The city contends with high levels of violent crimes, including assaults, murder, theft, and robbery. While ongoing efforts are to improve security and tackle crime from the root, Pretoria still has a long way to go.
8. Durban, South Africa
This coastal city of South Africa has faced a rise in organized crime in the past decade. While crime has dwindled over time as the city has seen an increase in employment, modernization, and tourism, the shadow of what it once still lingered in the background. While it isn’t as bad as it used to be, having a 36:100,000 homicide ratio is enough to put the city on this list.
9. Salvador, Brazil
A beautiful coastal city along the northeastern part of Brazil, the capital of Bahia boasts rich culture, arts, and tourism due to its stunning coastal beauty. But behind the sandy beaches and waves are a staggering ratio of homicides. Despite the crimes which plague Salvador, millions of visitors still arrive annually for its carnival festivals and beach life. It shows the importance of addressing the underlying crime issues by the city’s officials.
10. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Located along the US-Mexico border, Ciudad Juarez is known for its high levels of cartel violence and has experienced some of the highest homicide rates in Mexico. Situated along a major drug and trafficking route, it is often a hotspot for battles between rival drug cartels, leading to organized crime, daily shootings, threats, and general insecurity.
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