The World’s 7 Most Dangerous Countries


In stark contrast to the most peaceful nations in the world, these seven countries were ranked the most violent by the Global Peace Index (GPI). No place is safe every minute of every day, but these are locations where violence and fear are often a part of daily life. The GPI ranks countries according to factors such as internal and external conflicts, political instability, relations with neighboring countries, potential for terrorist acts, level of violent crime, and number of homicides.

7. Russia

A recent study showed a massive rise in crime in Russia during the past 10 years. While official reports show violent crime decreasing by 13 percent in 2010, a research group with the General Prosecutor’s Office Academy estimates that crime is actually rising at a rate of more than two percent per year, because millions of crimes a year are unreported or not prosecuted. Russia was also ranked by the World Health Organization as having the highest crime rate among 10 to 29 year-olds. Approximately 5,700 minors are currently serving prison terms in Russia.  Conflicts with former Soviet provinces also contributed to the GPI ranking, including the 2008 conflict with Georgia and 2009’s violent demonstrations in the North Caucasus. Russia also remains a leading weapons manufacturer and exporter.

6. Israel

Strained relations with neighboring countries are responsible in large part for Israel’s ranking. Recent military response to various external threats has been called into question by the United Nations, which found that Israeli troops broke international law with their use of extreme force against a Gaza aid flotilla. A high likelihood of violent demonstrations, a rise in organized crime, and fairly sophisticated arms manufacturing capabilities are also contributing factors. Additionally, the ongoing conflict with Palestine makes the potential for terrorist acts fairly high.

5. Pakistan

A high number of people killed in internal conflicts and a dramatic rise in the potential for terrorist acts place Pakistan near the top of the dangerous list. Violent demonstrations are increasingly common, and the crime rate has risen exponentially in the past decade — including murder, robbery, kidnappings, and assaults. According to the India-based Institute for Conflict Management, terrorism-related violence resulted in 11,585 deaths in Pakistan in 2009, compared with 6,715 a year earlier and 189 in 2003.

4. Sudan

Another country where terrorism and violent demonstrations are on the rise, Sudan has had over 2,000 casualties from territorial clashes in 2009. The United Nations estimate that up to 300,000 people have died from the effects of famine, disease, and war since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003, while the Sudanese government puts the number of fatalities closer to 10,000. The GPI also accounts for the number of displaced persons when estimating country rankings, and over 2.5 million people have fled their homes in Darfur alone. Across the country, the number of refugees is over 5 million, nearly 13 percent of the Sudan’s population.

3. Afghanistan

United Nations estimates for civilian deaths reached 2,400 in Afghanistan in 2009 due to conflict between the Afgan National Army and Taliban-backed insurgents. Up to 2 million Afghanis were displaced, representing over 7 percent of the country’s population. Violence is at an all-time high despite the presence of 150,000 NATO-led troops, according to a Pentagon report covering April through September of 2010. Acts of terrorism are common; there were nearly 7,000 reported incidents last year, including suicide and roadside bombings and rocket attacks.

2. Somalia

Somalia has lacked a functional national government since  civil war began in the country in 1999.  By the end of 2009, nearly 700,000 were displaced and under the care of  the UN Refugee Agency. With no governmental authority, piracy also became a massive problem in the waters off the Somalian coast. Somali pirates accounted for half of all sea attacks worldwide in 2009. Low life expectency (48 years for men, 51 for women) and one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates contribute to Somalia’s ranking, in addition to the perceived level of violence and corruption in society.

1. Iraq

The GPI uses certain measures to rank a nation’s level of safety and security, and Iraq continues to receive the highest possible score for negative factors such as homicide rate, level of trust in other citizens, violent crime rate,  and the potential for terrorist acts.The statistics tell the story:  Total deaths in Iraq from 2004 through 2009 have been estimated upward of 109,000 with over half of those being civilian deaths. With over 2 million displaced citizens living as refugees in Syria and Jordan, more than a hundred insurgent attacks daily, an unemployment rate estimated between 30 and 60 percent, rampant inflation, and a lack of basic necessities such as clean water and access to health care, Iraq is unquestionably the current most dangerous nation on Earth.