Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in the World

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20. Celaya, Mexico
> Homicide rate: 49.8 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 262
> Population: 526,166

Celaya is located in central Mexico, northwest of Mexico City. Unlike many of the other cities on this list, it does not have a long history of ranking among the most violent in the world. This is only the second time its homicide rate has ranked among the top 50 since 2013, the other being the previous year when its murder rate of 47.0 murders per 100,000 residents ranked 32nd in the world. Much of the increasing violence has been attributed to the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel.

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19. Cuernavaca, Mexico
> Homicide rate (metro area): 50.9 per 100,000
> Total homicides (metro area): 470
> Population (metro area): 923,274

Cuernavaca, Mexico, is one of just 19 cities in the world with a murder rate above 50 homicides per 100,000 residents. Eight of these cities are in Mexico. Cuernavaca had not ranked among the 50 cities with the highest homicide rates since 2014, when its homicide rate was half as high as its 2019 rate of 50.9 per 100,000 residents. Escalating battles for territory between at least five cartels operating in the Cuernavaca area are believed to be main drivers of the violence. The city’s chief of police was murdered in December 2019.

18. Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela
> Homicide rate: 51.0 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 189
> Population: 370,627

Ciudad Bolí­var is one of three Venezuelan cities to rank among the most dangerous in the world. The city, which is located just south of the Orinoco River, had 51 homicides for every 100,000 residents in 2019. This is a drop from 2018, when Ciudad Bolí­var had a homicide rate of 69.1 murders per 100,000 residents, ranking 10th in the world.

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17. Ensenada, Mexico
> Homicide rate: 52.1 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 275
> Population: 527,584

Ensenada, Mexico, has a homicide rate of 52.1 murders per 100,000 residents. This marks the first time Ensenada has ranked in the top 25 most dangerous cities in the world since the list has been published. The year before, its homicide rate of 46.6 per 100,000 ranked 34th in the world. Ensenada is located in the state of Baja California, just south of Tijuana and the U.S. border. Drug trafficking is likely related to much of the violence. Authorities have linked the city’s homicide problem to fights between criminal organizations vying for control over routes to the United States.

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16. San Juan, Puerto Rico
> Homicide rate: 54.0 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 172
> Population: 318,441

San Juan, in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, is one of three American cities to rank among the most dangerous in the world. Though San Juan’s homicide rate had been declining since its peak seven years ago, murders spiked there again in 2019 — marking the first time the city exceeded 50 homicides per 100,000 residents since at least 2013.

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