When it comes to international travel, some countries are best left out of American vacation plans. Sectarian violence in the Middle East, narcotics trafficking in South America, and frequent terror attacks in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, have made traveling to certain countries especially risky for American citizens.
The U.S. Department of State issues travel warnings and travel alerts for dozens of countries across five continents. According to the State Department’s Travel Warning List, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 37 countries too dangerous for American travelers.
The State Department issues travel warnings in order to alert Americans of potential dangers and urge them to consider not traveling to certain countries at all.
Warnings can vary dramatically in severity. For example, the State Department expressly urges Americans not to visit Yemen and has recommended Americans currently in the country to depart immediately. By contrast, Mexico has a standing travel warning due to drug trafficking violence and kidnappings for ransom, but tourist destinations in areas such as the Yucatan Peninsula are largely spared from these dangers. Mexico attracts millions of American visitors each year.
Just as the strength of a travel warning can vary from country to country, so can the type of threat. Depending on the country, American travelers face a range of dangers from civil unrest and political instability to violent crime and natural disasters. Currently, the most common reason for a travel warning is the threat of terrorism. The risk of terrorist attacks are cited in travel warnings for over half of the countries on this list, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa.
While in most cases terrorist groups, criminals, and anti-government rebel groups pose the threats, there is at least one notable exception. In North Korea, the main threat to American citizens is the government itself. Americans risk arrest, long-term sentences, and even hard-labor for infractions that are not considered criminal in the United States. Punishable offenses in the authoritarian country include taking unauthorized photographs, shopping at stores not designated for foreigners, and disrespecting the country’s current and former leaders.
The risks of traveling in these countries is certainly not limited to only Americans. Often the conditions that make such travel risky are felt on a daily basis by people actually living in these countries. Venezuela’s deeply depressed economy, which has led to violence in the country, has led to widespread suffering among Venezuelans. In Honduras, unchecked criminal activity lowers the quality of life for Hondurans more than for anyone else. In Further, in countries like North Korea and Syria, citizens face oppression and violence from their own governments.
To identify the countries the U.S. Government does not want you to travel to, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the State Department’s list of countries with standing travel warnings as of October 3, 2016. Reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. The lower level travel alerts from the state department are issued for a tumultuous election seasons, disease outbreaks, or elevated risk of terrorist strikes. Countries with standing travel alerts were not considered. Population figures and GDP per capita figures came from the International Monetary Fund. Due to insufficient reporting, most IMF figures are estimates.
These are the countries the U.S. government doesn’t want you to visit.