Special Report

29 Countries the US Government Doesn't Want You to Go To

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16. Mauritania
> Advisory level: Level 3: reconsider travel
> Last updated: Feb. 22
> Population: 4.3 million
> GDP per capita: $1,130

Like many other countries in the region, the presence of terror groups makes Mauritania an especially unsafe country for American travelers. Dangers include kidnapping and other violent acts. U.S. embassy officials are restricted from traveling outside of the capital of Nouakchott unless they have permission to do so. They cannot travel after dark nor can they walk alone. Like its neighbor Mali, Mauritania, which is located on the Atlantic Coast, gained independence from France in 1960.

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17. Nicaragua
> Advisory level: Level 3: reconsider travel
> Last updated: July 7
> Population: 6.1 million
> GDP per capita: $2,100

Instability has plagued Nicaragua, and because of this, the American government ordered non-emergency U.S. government personnel to leave the country in early July. The government is concerned over the presence of heavily armed, government-controlled paramilitary forces. The State Department says these groups often travel in vehicles that don’t have license plates. They have been known to kidnap and detain people and seize privately owned land. Demonstrations occur frequently and the Nicaraguan government has attacked demonstrators and arbitrarily detained protesters.

Employees of the U.S. government have been told to stay inside and avoid unnecessary travel after dark. They are forbidden from using public transportation because of crime fears.

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18. Niger
> Advisory level: Level 3: reconsider travel
> Last updated: Jan. 10
> Population: 20.7 million
> GDP per capita: $370

Many areas of Niger, one of the poorest nations on Earth, are remote, and the U.S. embassy’s ability to assist Americans in emergency situations is severely limited. The terrorist group Boko Haram, among others, operates in the country, and terrorist attacks have caused aid groups and foreign companies to suspend operations in the country. The U.S. government has told travelers to avoid Niger’s border region with Mali. The U.S. has a military presence in Niger, and the government is weighing withdrawing nearly all American commandos in Niger after an ambush killed four U.S. troops last October.

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19. Nigeria
> Advisory level: Level 3: reconsider travel
> Last updated: Jan. 10
> Population: 186 million
> GDP per capita: $2,450

Due to the threat of terrorism, Americans are advised to avoid large crowds and places such as shopping malls, churches, clubs, and markets in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. The terrorist group Boko Haram, among others, operates in the country. Kidnappings and robberies are also common in certain parts of Nigeria. Travelers are also advised to avoid going to the Gulf of Guinea over piracy concerns.

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20. North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
> Advisory level: Level 4: do not travel
> Last updated: Aug. 31
> Population: 25.4 million
> GDP per capita: N/A

In North Korea, the totalitarian government poses the greatest risk to American visitors, as evidenced by the fate of American student Otto Warmbier, who died after he was arrested by North Korean authorities. Electronic devices are subject to search for prohibited content, which includes materials critical of the North Korean government. U.S. citizens risk arrest, fines, long-term detention, and hard labor for some transgressions that are not considered crimes in the United States.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to Americans in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic relations with the communist nation. Tensions between the two countries have been reduced, and President Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year as both sides are working to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

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