The overall risk of dying from intentional homicide has declined across the globe over the last few decades. In 1993, there were 7.4 homicide victims per 100,000 people worldwide. By 2017, that figure declined to 6.1 victims per 100,000, according to a United Nations study. While the overall rate is improving, some parts of the world remain very dangerous.
To identify the most dangerous cities in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 25 highest city-wide homicide rates from a report compiled by Mexico-based non-profit group The Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice covering 50 cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants with the highest homicide rates in the world. Data used was as of 2019, except for Mexico, for which 2018 data was the most recent available.
Cities in which there is open warfare — like some in Syria, Afghanistan, or Yemen — were not considered because deaths caused by war do not meet the World Health Organization’s definition of homicide.
The authors of the study note that in some nations, particularly Venezuela and Brazil, finding actual homicide figures can be very challenging as authorities are not transparent or have even stopped publishing homicide statistics altogether. Much of the data in these instances was gathered by local journalists.
The worldwide drop in the homicide rate has largely been driven by declines reported in Asia and Europe — in both continents the homicide rate dropped by more than 35% since 1990. By contrast homicide rates have remained relatively high in the Americas. Of the 25 cities with the highest homicide rates, 23 are either in North, Central, or South America. The other two are in South Africa.
Mexico has by far the most cities on this list, with 11. Brazil has four cities, and Venezuela three. The U.S. — one of just five nations in the world with multiple cities on the list of cities — has three, including San Juan, Puerto Rico. These are the most dangerous cities in America.