The State Department has four advisory levels for travelers: level 4 – do not travel; level 3 – reconsider travel; level 2 – exercise increased caution; and level 1 – exercise normal precautions. Of the 209 countries the State Department has advisories for, 11 are classified “do not travel.” All 11 are in Africa or Asia. The 17 nations the State Department recommends that Americans reconsider traveling to are in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South and North America.
Travel warnings can be issued for many reasons and can also vary in concern. Many of the Middle Eastern and African countries on this list are unsafe because of the threat of terrorism and dangers arising from political instability. Countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, and Syria have been embroiled in protracted armed conflicts that have destabilized those nations.
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 not considered criminal in the U.S. Punishable offenses in North Korea include taking unauthorized photographs, shopping at stores not designated for foreigners, and disrespecting the country’s current and former leaders. Otto Warmbier, an American student who had been imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, suffered severe brain damage while in the custody of the North Korean government and died last year before his body was returned home to Ohio.
To identify the countries the U.S. Government doesn’t want you to visit, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the State Department’s list of countries with standing travel warnings as of Aug. 31, 2018. Reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. All nations’ advisory levels have been updated this year. Population figures and GDP per capita figures are for the most recent year available and are from the World Bank.