18 Dangerous Countries Americans Should Avoid

Travel brings new experiences yet also greater risks compared to staying at home. But when does the threat of death, injury, or imprisonment become too high? Here, we list the 18 most dangerous countries in the world and explore the reasons they aren’t safe for U.S. citizens, from civil wars and bomb threats to extreme political regimes and deadly diseases.


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Due to years of civil unrest and the presence of terrorist forces, such as the Taliban, this war-torn Middle Eastern country is the most dangerous place for U.S. travelers in the world. Threats include indiscriminate landmines, kidnapping, and poor infrastructure (like hospitals and roads). Smart Traveller describes the country as “volatile and dangerous.”


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Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2015, and the country is now suffering a humanitarian crisis with widespread shortages of food, water, and medical supplies. Violent crime, terrorist attacks, and unexploded ordnance are also significant risks, prompting the U.S. Department of State to advise against all travel to Yemen.


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As with Yemen and Afghanistan, Syria struggles through civil war, widespread destruction, and insufficient resources for its people. Terrorist groups like ISIS make violent crime, kidnapping, and explosions genuine threats. If you were injured, the country’s damaged, depleted, and overburdened medical care centers are unlikely to offer effective treatment.

South Sudan

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The U.S. Department of State reports that many journalists have been killed in South Sudan while covering the ongoing conflict there. Violence is rife, with kidnappings, murders, and robberies a daily occurrence. The nation’s instability since gaining independence in 2011 has also led to humanitarian crises and a lack of essential services.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is considered too risky for travelers due to armed conflict, civil unrest, and high crime rates. According to Reliefweb, the eastern and northeastern regions, in particular, are terrorized by armed groups and militants. As well as the risk of kidnapping or murder, outbreaks of diseases like Ebola also pose a threat.


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Tensions in the country have escalated since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Even away from the frontline, American citizens aren’t safe, with international sanctions and in-country propaganda putting them at a high risk of harassment, false arrest, or even imprisonment and limiting the powers of U.S. embassies.


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With many Ukrainian people fleeing their homes to escape the conflict between Russia and their own military, the country is not a safe place for visitors from anywhere. Widespread destruction, active war zones, and destroyed infrastructure make the threat of injury or death extremely high, especially in the east and occupied territories.


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Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to visit due to the presence of al-Shabaab and other militant groups responsible for murders, kidnappings, and piracy. The ongoing unrest has led to a breakdown in civil order and a loss of control by law enforcement in many areas.


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Time Magazine describes the situation in Sudan as a “dangerous descent into warlordism,” with a lack of police presence and terrifyingly high rates of violent crime. Despite the presence of UNISFA peacekeepers, Sudan remains an unsafe place even for native people, making it beyond dangerous for American travelers.


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Although slightly less risky than some neighboring nations, Iraq remains a high-risk destination due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, and civil unrest. Despite the territorial defeat of the terrorist group ISIS, the group (and other militants) continue to operate and make violent attacks, as reported by U.S. Central Command.


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Mali continues to be ravaged by civil war and political instability, prompting armed conflict, terrorism, kidnapping, murder, and unprovoked raids and attacks by militant groups. Although travel anywhere in Mali is strongly discouraged, the northern and central regions are considered especially dangerous.

Central African Republic

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The CAR consists of regions controlled by various armed groups and those still under government control. Outside the capital, Bangui, the situation is particularly volatile and dangerous, with high rates of violent crime and regular clashes between militants and government forces.


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GOV.UK says, “There is a risk of kidnapping in Ethiopia’s Somali region and on the southern border with Kenya. This is particularly the case in the eastern areas where FCDO advises against all travel.” As with other African nations on this list, armed conflict from civil unrest and violent crime is not uncommon.

Burkina Faso

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A rise in the number of terrorist groups associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS has increased inter-communal violence and made kidnapping more common, particularly for Westerners. The threat appears greatest at the borders, although no parts of the country are considered entirely safe for American tourists.

North Korea

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The first East Asian country on the list, North Korea is a politically isolated and strongly communist country that is suspicious of outsiders, particularly those from the Western world. Strict rules for visitors, the risk of wrongful detention, and a lack of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea make it a perilous place for Americans.


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Poor diplomatic relationships and political tensions also make Iran a risky place for U.S. visitors. There is a significant risk of arbitrary arrest and detention, especially for those holding dual Iranian-American nationality. The Iranian government has detained Americans on false charges of espionage or national security threats, often without access to embassy support.


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Times Travel states that most areas of Turkey are safe for travelers, provided you stay within tourist areas and resorts. The southeast of the country is deemed more risky, with violence and crime rates significantly higher than elsewhere. It is not recommended for Americans to visit such areas.


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Terrorism, sectarian violence, and the risk of armed conflict remain high in Pakistan, particularly near the Line of Control in Kashmir and away from more secure cities like Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. With terrorist groups targeting almost anybody and the kidnapping of Westerners on the rise, we recommend you choose another country to explore, at least for now.

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