Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in the World

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45. Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil
> Homicides per 100,000: 37.5
> 2017 homicides: 184
> Population: 490,288

As the homicide rate declined significantly in this oil-rich region in Brazil’s southeast, the city’s rank also dropped to 45th from 19th. In 2016, there were 56.5 homicides per 100,000 city residents. Like elsewhere in Brazil, police and military actions can have an impact on drug gang-related crime — one of the main causes of homicides in the country. Crime activity largely depends on the prevalence of rival gangs, security operations, and level of poverty and unemployment.

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44. Durban, South Africa
> Homicides per 100,000: 38.1
> 2017 homicides: 1,396
> Population: 3,661,911

This city on the eastern coast of South Africa experienced an increase in its homicide rate last year after just barely making the list at No. 50 in 2016. Like in South Africa’s other bigger cities, the prevalence of gang activity and other types of violent crime can lead to murder. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence and sexual assault against women, and, in Durban, kidnappings are disturbingly common.

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43. Mazatlán, Mexico
> Homicides per 100,000: 39.3
> 2017 homicides: 192
> Population: 488,281

This coastal western Mexican city in Sinaloa state has long been a tourist destination despite its location near the home base of the country’s brutal Sinaloa Cartel. Mazatlan had largely remained insulated from bloodletting in the countryside, but the city first appeared on Seguridad, Justicia y Paz’s list in 2016, ranking as the 27th most dangerous city with 48.8 homicides per 100,000 residents. That same year, two Australian surfers were murdered in a botched robbery near Mazatlan that garnered global attention. Efforts by Mexican security forces to step up patrols and enforcement in the city may have helped lower the murder rate last year, but Mazatlan remained on the list for 2017. The U.S. State Department advises to avoid travel to Sinaloa and five other Mexican states.

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42. Detroit, United States
> Homicides per 100,000: 39.7
> 2017 homicides: 267
> Population: 672,795

Detroit is one of four U.S. cities that routinely make it on the list of the world’s most murderous cities, but for the third year in a row, Motor City’s homicide rate has declined. Local authorities credit the lower murder rate to the city’s five-year-old Ceasefire Detroit initiative aimed at dismantling local gangs and establishing youth-outreach programs in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice. The FBI considers Detroit to be the country’s most dangerous when factoring all violent crime, but its homicide rate is the lowest of the four U.S. cities that made the 2017 list.

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41. New Orleans, United States
> Homicides per 100,000: 40.1
> 2017 homicides: 157
> Population: 391,495

New Orleans was forever changed by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the city in 2005 and radically shook up its demographics. Not only has the Big Easy nearly fully recovered from one of the worst and costliest storms in U.S. history, but also for the fifth year in a row it has been able to reduce its homicide rate from about 45 killings per 100,000 residents in 2013 to about 40 per 100,000 last year. A Washington Post analysis found that in many of the city’s areas with high murder rates, arrest rates are relatively low and many murders go unsolved.