Special Report

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

Source: DouglasOlivares / Getty Images

5. Venezuela
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 12/2/2019
> GDP per capita: $9,402
> Population: 28.9 million

Turmoil continues to roil Venezuela — one of 13 countries with a level 4 warning. The South American nation is racked with crime and civil unrest. American citizens may be subject to arbitrary arrest and detention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued an avoid-nonessential-travel notice for Venezuela in May 2018 because of the breakdown of the medical infrastructure in that country. Since January 2019, President Nicolás Maduro has been locked in a power struggle with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who failed to dislodge Maduro in an attempted overthrow in April. Since then, Maduro has cracked down on opponents. Human rights groups claim the regime has executed rivals, a charge the regime denies.

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4. Central African Republic
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 12/12/2019
> GDP per capita: $763
> Population: 4.7 million

Kidnapping, civil disturbance, and violent crime such as armed robbery and carjackings are the main reasons why the State Department has issued a Level 4: Do not travel advisory for the Central African Republic. The U.S. government is limited in its ability to provide services and assistance for Americans in the landlocked country because the United States does not have a permanent envoy in the Central African Republic. Americans in the capital of Bangui must obtain special authorization to travel beyond the city.

Earlier this month, there were clashes between the country’s armed forces and Islamic groups that killed two government servicemen and destroyed part of the city of Alindao in the southern part of the country.

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3. Mali
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 12/23/2019
> GDP per capita: $2,056
> Population: 19.1 million

The State Department has issued a Level 4: Do not travel advisory for Mali, citing crime, terrorism, and kidnapping concerns. Human Rights Watch reported that the situation in the African nation worsened in 2019. Islamic groups connected with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are clashing with government security forces in the central and northern areas of the country. Human Rights Watch said 85,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in 2019 because of the violence.

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2. Iran
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 12/26/2019
> GDP per capita: $19,098
> Population: 81.8 million

Iranian authorities regularly detain and imprison Americans, particularly those with dual citizenship, under espionage charges. They often target students, journalists, and business travelers. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran and cannot provide emergency services for Americans in the country. Ever since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and raised sanctions against the nation, tensions have mounted, leading to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, on Jan. 3.

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1. Iraq
> Level: Level 4: Do not travel
> Last updated: 1/11/2020
> GDP per capita: $15,471
> Population: 38.4 million

The State Department warns Americans not to travel to Iraq over concerns of terrorism, armed conflict, and kidnapping. Terrorist groups and militias continue to operate in Iraq, nearly 17 years after the United States invaded that nation. Terrorist groups and sectarian militias often target American citizens as well as Western companies. In May 2019, the State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government personnel in Iraq to leave the country amid potential threats tied to rising tensions with Iran.

In December 2019, a Hezbollah militia group, which has links to Iran, attacked a military base and killed an American contractor. This prompted airstrikes by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria where that group was operating. In response, Iraqi backers of Hezbollah attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and were driven off by U.S. military personnel. This led to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force on Jan. 3, at Baghdad International Airport.

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