Special Report

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

Source: HomoCosmicos / Getty Images

15. Niger
> Level: Level 3: Reconsider travel
> Last updated: 12/19/2019
> GDP per capita: $944
> Population: 22.4 million

The landlocked West African country of Niger borders seven nations, and the State Department has asked Americans to reconsider traveling there because of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. Terrorists are active in the bordering areas of Mali, Libya, Burkina Faso, and in the northern region of Niger. In the past, extremists based in Mali have crossed the border and attacked Niger’s security forces.

In May, Niger authorities said they thwarted a terrorist attack on a prison near the capital of Niamey. Niger, where the United States has a significant military presence, is perceived to be one of the more stable nations in the region. The U.S. is concerned that the Islamic State, all but removed from the Middle East, might shift its focus to the area of Africa that includes Niger.

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14. Democratic Republic of the Congo
> Level: Level 3: Reconsider travel
> Last updated: 1/2/2020
> GDP per capita: $827
> Population: 84.1 million

The U.S. government has asked American citizens to reconsider traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk due to health concerns, including an outbreak of Ebola in the provinces of Nord Kivu and Ituri — which have a level 4 travel advisory.

The African nation is also reeling from a recent outbreak of measles. The World Health Organization said on Jan. 7 that more than 6,000 people had died as a result of the latest measles epidemic. WHO has called for more funding to vaccinate children under age 5.

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13. Libya
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 4/9/2019
> GDP per capita: $18,425
> Population: 6.7 million

Libya has become an unstable country since strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. The U.S. government advises Americans not to travel to the North African nation, which is racked by crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict. Fighting among armed groups has occurred in the capital Tripoli, as well as the cities of Surman, Al-Jufra, Misrata, Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Sabha, and Dernah. A meeting of more than 12 nations in Berlin earlier in January tried to broker a cease-fire to the protracted civil war in Libya, without success. The combatants refused to engage in negotiations. Both warring sides agreed to send representatives to another meeting in Geneva.

The United States’ ability to provide services to American citizens in Libya is limited because the U.S. embassy in Tripoli suspended operations in July 2014.

12. North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 7/10/2019
> GDP per capita: N/A
> Population: 25.5 million

Americans who travel to North Korea risk arbitrary arrest and long-term detention. The U.S. government does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and is unable to provide emergency services within the country. Toward the end of last year, Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, had given the United States an ultimatum to find a new way to recast relations between the two nations by the end of 2019, but the U.S. was unsure what Kim meant or what kind of threat he was making.

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11. Afghanistan
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 10/22/2019
> GDP per capita: $1,735
> Population: 37.2 million

Afghanistan is one 13 countries to receive a level 4 travel warning from the State Department due to ongoing military conflict. Kidnappings, hostage taking, and suicide bombings are all relatively common throughout the country. Terrorist groups are active in Afghanistan and often target restaurants, hotels, airports, and government buildings. The State Department advises American visitors to the country to draft a will prior to the start of their trip. Two U.S. paratroopers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in early January, the first American military deaths in Afghanistan this year. 2019 was the deadliest year for the U.S. military in Afghanistan in five years, with 20 fatalities.

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