Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in the World

Source: Geovanni1987 / Wikimedia Commons

10. Vitória da Conquista, Brazil
> Homicide rate: 60.0 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 205
> Population: 341,597

Located approximately 120 miles inland from the eastern coast of Brazil, Vitória da Conquista is one of several cities in South America to rank among the most dangerous in the world. In 2019, there were 205 homicides reported in Vitória da Conquista, the 10th most of any city when adjusted for population. The current homicide rate is a sharp increase from 2015, when 132 homicides, about 42 for every 100,000 people, were reported in the city.

9. St. Louis, United States
> Homicide rate: 64.5 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 194
> Population: 300,576

St. Louis has the highest murder rate of any city in the U.S. and ranks among the 10 highest in the world. The Missouri city recorded nearly 200 murders in 2019, accounting for a homicide rate of 64.5 incidents per 100,000 people. The murder rate in St. Louis has nearly doubled since 2013, when the homicide rate was 34.1 per 100,000. St. Louis has had the highest murder rate of any American city every year since 2014.

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8. Cape Town, South Africa
> Homicide rate: 68.3 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 3,065
> Population: 4,488,545

There were 3,065 murders reported in Cape Town in 2019 — more than eight homicides a day on average. Adjusted to the city’s population, there were 68.3 homicides per 100,000 Cape Town residents, the most of any city in Africa and the eighth most of any city worldwide. The 2019 homicide rate marks a significant increase from 2016, when there were 60.8 homicides reported per 100,000 residents.

In an effort to suppress the violence, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered in July 2019 troops from the South African Army to patrol the more dangerous parts of Cape Town. The military deployment was widely seen as a stop gap measure at best. While murders were down in the first weekend of deployment, there was a spike of 46 murders reported the following weekend.

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7. Acapulco, Mexico
> Homicide rate: 71.6 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 600
> Population: 837,914

A popular resort town and tourist destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Acapulco is also one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In 2019, there were 71.6 homicides reported per 100,000 residents, the sixth highest homicide rate of any city in Mexico and the seventh highest of any large city worldwide.

The current homicide rate is down slightly after a multi-year spike in crime that peaked in 2018 at 113.2 murders per 100,000 Acapulco residents. Several causes may have contributed to the spike in crime, including the increased demand for opioids in the United States and the turf war that resulted from the 2016 arrest of drug lord El Chapo.

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6. Caracas, Venezuela
> Homicide rate: 74.6 per 100,000
> Total homicides: 2,134
> Population: 2,858,933

No city outside of Mexico has a higher homicide rate than Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city. The city of nearly 2.9 million reported 2,134 murders — the third highest total of any city on this list.

The murder rate of 74.6 homicides per 100,000 residents in Caracas is lower than previous years. The homicide rate was at least 110 per 100,000 in the years from 2013 to 2017, before dropping to 100 per 100,000 in 2018. This is the first time since at least 2013 that Caracas has not ranked among the top three most dangerous cities in the world.

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