Special Report

22 Dangerous Countries Americans Have Been Warned To Avoid in 2024

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When traveling, it is crucial to exercise caution in selecting your destination. In 2024 the U.S. State Department advises Americans to avoid 22 countries and territories, with this list expanding annually. These locations are currently under level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisories as of January 2024. Disregarding these warnings could expose travelers to heightened risk of encountering crime, kidnapping, terrorism, or civil unrest, with limited assistance available from the U.S. government. These are all issues that tourists should thoroughly research before traveling anywhere. Travelers can access comprehensive country-specific information from the U. S. State Department at Travel.State.Gov.

Here are overseas destinations Americans should avoid in 2024:

1. Afghanistan

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Afghanistan has desperate poverty and human rights issues.

 

It might be shorter to list problems Afghanistan doesn’t have than all the ones it does. Recovery from decades of war has been stymied by intense drought and large earthquakes in 2023. The Taliban has reinstated many of their most oppressive policies, like restrictions on women’s rights, floggings, and public executions. Detention and kidnapping are particular risks for Americans, and there is no U.S. embassy in the country to assist.

2. Belarus

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The close affiliation between Belarus and Russia makes it a place American citizens should avoid.

No U.S. embassy is in operation in Belarus. The country is closely aligned with Russia in the Union State, a supranational organization that many observers see as a slow-motion annexation of Belarus. The Level 4 advisory for Belarus reflects the fact that Russia has used it as a staging point for its war on Ukraine and may do so in the future. There is also the danger of civil unrest and arbitrary detention.

3. Burkina Faso

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The potential for terrorist activity makes Burkina Faso an unsafe travel destination.

The West African country of Burkina Faso is roiled by violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization. The northern and eastern regions of the country are in a state of emergency, with rebels operating near the border with neighboring Mali. Crime, terrorism against civilian targets, and kidnapping make this one of the most dangerous places for foreigners to visit.

4. Central African Republic

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The security situation is dangerously unsettled in the Central African Republic.

The State Department warns travelers to this Saharan nation may get caught up in civil unrest, demonstrations, election-related violence, and violent crime. Large areas of the country are under the control of various armed groups that attack civilians routinely. Airport, road, and border closures can happen without warning.

5. Gaza

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The situation in Gaza is so dangerous the U.S. State Department advises completing a will and leaving DNA samples with your doctor before traveling there.

Gaza is not internationally recognized as a country but is included in this list as one of the world’s most dangerous places for Americans. Since the Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist attack by Hamas, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been conducting extensive military operations in Gaza against Hamas. Anyone choosing nevertheless to go to Gaza should be prepared for an indefinite stay, as there is no guarantee border crossings will remain open. The U.S. government advises taking food and medical supplies for at least a week for each member of the family, drafting a will, and providing DNA samples to your medical provider in case they are necessary to identify your remains.

6. Haiti

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Natural disasters have displaced thousands of people in Haiti and contributed to social unrest.

Travelers are advised not to go to Haiti due to civil unrest, violent crime, and poor healthcare facilities. There are shortages of gasoline, medicine, and other supplies. American citizens are frequently the target of kidnapping for ransom. Even those traveling in larger numbers in conveys have been targeted. Robbers often wait near the international airport for foreigners to arrive, then follow their cars and violently attack them.

7. Iran

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Dual Iranian-American citizens visiting family and friends in Iran may be especially vulnerable to harassment and or false detention.

Iran’s hostility to the United States government is no news. But the threat also extends to individual Americans who may become pawns in the struggle between the two countries. U.S. citizens in Iran have been kidnapped, detained, or arrested on false charges. Dual-national American-Iranians are particularly at risk. Terrorist groups are not only funded by Iran but sometimes carry out attacks inside the country.

8. Iraq

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Iraq suffers frequent terrorism, such as the car bomb that created this explosion.

The State Department has a multitude of security concerns about Americans traveling to Iraq. The Baghdad International Airport is not secure, so the U.S. government has instructed its personnel not to use it. Throughout the country, Americans need to be wary of possible civil unrest, terrorism, kidnapping, and military combat. Insurgent groups and terrorists regularly attack Iraqi security forces and civilians. Northern Iraq is an area of particular risk, as neighboring countries have regularly bombed targets there. Americans are strictly warned not to enter Syria from Iraq to participate in armed conflict. The Kurdistan Regional Government imposes 10-year prison sentences on people who illegally cross the border. The United States government will impose prison sentences and large fines on any citizens who fight for a designated terrorist organization.

9. Lebanon

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Beirut is a beautiful seaside city, but the security situation makes it a place to avoid traveling.

The United States embassy has returned to normal staffing levels but American citizens are still warned not to travel to Lebanon. This is due to the threat of combat operations, crime, terrorist attacks, and protests against the government. The border areas (with both Syria and Israel) and refugee camps are areas of particular danger. Terrorist attacks may target hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas frequented by tourists. Protests there have blocked major roadways making it difficult to get to the airport and government facilities.

10. Libya

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Tripoli, Libya’s capital and largest city, is beset by crime and violence.

Since the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, peace has been elusive in Libya. Two civil wars ended in an uneasy truce in 2020, but the central government is still weak, and armed groups control large areas of the country. Americans should not travel there due to the high risk of kidnapping and other crimes, terrorism, armed conflict, and civil unrest. Hotels and other establishments frequented by foreigners are often the targets of unexpected attacks. Some airports have been closed because of fighting. Others are open sporadically and may close without warning.

11. Mali

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Americans should avoid travel to Mali due to the unsettled political situation there.

Americans should not travel to Mali due to the danger of terrorism and crime, including kidnapping. Targets of terrorism include government facilities, places of worship, and facilities visited by foreigners. Random police checks and roadblocks, especially at night, are common.

12. Mexico

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Some parts of Mexico suffer from heightened gang activity and violence that make them places for Americans to avoid.

The U.S. State Department issues separate travel advisories for each state of Mexico. Level 4 advisories exist for each of the following states due to the danger of crimes such as kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, and homicide: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas.

13. Myanmar

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Thousands of people are internally displaced in Myanmar due to natural disasters and fighting between the government and rebel factions.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 2021. Since then, it has been common for protests and demonstrations against the government to break out, followed by harsh repression of protesters and bystanders. Various armed groups are fighting against the government in different parts of the country. The State Department warns of the danger of becoming caught up in armed conflict, civil unrest, arbitrary and wrongful detention, land mines, and other unexploded ordinance, as well as a lack of healthcare and medical resources.

14. North Korea

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Kim Jong-un, the mercurial leader of North Korea, keeps tensions with South Korea and its allies at a fever pitch.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous places on Earth for Americans. There is a high risk of wrongful arrest and long-term detention by the North Korean regime, which likes to take hostages as bargaining chips. The United States has announced that American passports are invalid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK. Sweden is the protecting power for the United States in North Korea, but the Swedish embassy is severely limited in the amount of assistance it can provide for American citizens who run afoul of authorities in the DPRK.

15. Russia

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Aggression against Ukraine, including this missile attack on a school, has made Russia into an international pariah.

 

Since it invaded Ukraine in 2022, Russia has been under stringent international sanctions. Tensions with NATO are at a post-Cold War high. Debit and credit cards and other banking services are no longer available. Flights into and out of Russia are sporadic, laws may be enforced sporadically, and authorities may particularly single out U.S. citizens for harassment or wrongful detention. As the war has continued, drone attacks and explosions have happened in western and southern Russia as far north as Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Russian government has placed limitations on the movements of embassy personnel, so their ability to respond to the needs of U.S. citizens is limited.

16. Somalia

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Piracy off the coast of Somalia is a significant problem for international shipping through the busy Gulf of Aden.

Somalia earned a spot on the “do not travel” list due to the danger of crime, civil unrest, terrorism, kidnapping, poor access to medical facilities, and piracy. Illegal roadblocks are common and terrorist attacks can take place anywhere in the country by suicide bombers, car bombs, or mortar fire. Another thing that makes Somalia one of the world’s most dangerous places is piracy. Pirates actively operate in international waters off the coast – a problem that is now spreading to the west coast of Africa as well.

17. South Sudan

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People in South Sudan, one of the world’s newest countries, live in desperate poverty.

Violent crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict are the key concerns the U.S. State Department has about South Sudan. Independent from Sudan only since 2011, South Sudan is one of the world’s newest countries and still has weak central authority. Rape, armed robbery, and other serious crimes are some of the dangers foreigners have experienced there. Guns are widely available to the population and rival political and ethnic groups are fighting in various parts of the country.

18. Sudan

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Sudan is wracked by crime, armed conflict, natural disasters, and a refugee crisis.

Due to the unstable security situation in Sudan, the U.S. Embassy suspended operations in April 2023. Heavy fighting is going on throughout the country. The international airport in the capital and the border with Chad are closed. Electricity and communications are sporadic. Kidnappings, home invasions, carjackings, robberies, terrorism, and civil unrest are common. Due to the unrest and natural disasters, large numbers of people are internally displaced as refugees.

19. Syria

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Multiple factions and foreign nations are engaged in military action in Syria.

Civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 and the United States has not had an embassy there since 2012. The Czech Republic is the protecting power for the United States. Crime, civil unrest, and armed conflict are a danger all over the country. Shelling, missile attacks, and aerial bombardment are dangers. The government violently puts down protests and demonstrations. Terrorist groups of different factions carry out bombings, and assassinations, and set off improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The American government particularly warns its citizens against going to Syria to participate in armed conflict on any side.

20. Ukraine

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With its peace shattered by the Russian invasion, Ukraine is no longer a safe travel destination for Americans.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Americans have been in danger of falling victim to armed conflict there. Mortar, missile, or drone attacks can happen anywhere in the country, not only in the active combat zones in the east and south. In occupied areas, Russian authorities have singled out American citizens for harassment and detention. Americans who nonetheless decide to go to Ukraine should familiarize themselves with the location of emergency shelters and follow the safety guidelines issued by regional officials.

21. Venezuela

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The slums of Caracas, Venezuela are home to thousands of people who struggle to support themselves under the government’s disastrous economic policies.

The United States withdrew its diplomatic personnel from Venezuela in 2019. Americans there may fall victim to violent crimes or get caught up in spontaneous political demonstrations. It is not unusual for the Venezuelan authorities to break these up with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. The Venezuelan government has been accused of human rights abuses such as torture, killings, disappearances, and illegal detentions. The regime has detained Americans without notifying the U.S. government or giving American authorities access to them. Colombian terrorist groups are also active in Venezuela’s border areas, not only with Colombia but with Brazil and Guyana as well.

22. Yemen

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The Old City of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, is no longer safe for tourists because of the country’s brutal civil war.

The United States has not had an operating embassy in Yemen since 2015. Terrorist groups are active in the country, engaged in bombings and kidnappings. Yemen is one of the most dangerous countries in the world because it is still struggling through a civil war. The central government is weak and has limited ability to assist civilians. Foreigners are often targets of kidnappings and carjackings. The kidnapping of young people is often for forced marriage. Many areas of the country still have landmines. Utilities are sporadic or unavailable. Medical care facilities and supplies have been decimated and there is a danger of epidemic disease.

Common Themes

Some of the common themes in the most dangerous places in the world for Americans are the absence of a fully functioning American embassy, high levels of crime often specifically targeted at foreigners, civil unrest, armed conflict, and the lack of basic utilities and medical services. These are the types of issues Americans would do well to investigate no matter where in the world they are traveling. The U.S. State Department provides details on every country of the world at Travel.State.Gov – get informed before you travel!

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