The world is dangerous. The U.S. State Department has travel warnings for 38 countries, and the worst of the worst go far beyond lost baggage fears. With fears about everything from pirates to turf wars to keep tourists from traveling, here are the three most dangerous countries in the world.
If Somalia were stable enough to keep statistics, they would be shocking. The United Kingdom Department for International Development calls it "the most fragile state in the world." Understandably, considering it hasn't had a functioning government for more than 20 years.
Most infamously known for its oil tanker-taking pirates, there's plenty of trouble brewing back at port. The country serves as a terrorist training ground for Al-Shabaab, a group that killed 74 people in Uganda as spectators watched the 2010 World Cup Final, and recently slaughtered 67 people in a Nairobi shopping mall.
Al-Shabaab banned smartphones in its operation areas earlier this year to make drone strikes more difficult, and last week the group demanded that all telecom companies cut off Internet in the country in the next 15 days, or face serious consequences.
It ties for most corrupt country on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, and just managed to squeak past Afghanistan's last place spot on the Global Peace Index from Vision of Humanity.
Syria is in turmoil. While Somalia is in a semi-permanent state of unrest, Syria has been catapulted into catastrophe for the last three years as rebel fighters have attempted to overthrow the oppressive President Bashar al-Assad.
Foreign nations have taken sides, making one of the world's most dangerous countries a potential catalyst for an entirely more dangerous world, in general. With the United States and its allies loosely rooting for rebellion while China and Russia back Bashar, violence in Syria has taken on international significance.
So far, 120,000 people have been killed since the rebellion began, and not even multilateral organizations are safe. Twelve United Nations staffers have been killed in the violence, and five Doctors Without Borders staffers were pulled from their house two weeks ago, "allegedly for questioning," according to spokesman Michael Goldfarb, as quoted by media.
Honduras doesn't need a war to claim the terrible title of most dangerous country in the world. It has the highest homicide rate of any country.
As a Honduran, you have nearly a one-in-1,000 chance of being murdered. With a population roughly equal to Virginia's, 36 Hondurans were kidnapped, 7,104 became homicide victims, and 24,808 were robbed in 2011 (most recent data). With only 3,645 assaults for the same period, you're more likely to be killed than hurt.
Honduras' horrible situation stems from the coca plant. The Latin American country serves as a key staging ground for cocaine shipments to the U.S, and drug gangs will do anything to defend their turf. Eighty percent of the "white snow" that Americans smoke, snort, or shoot up heads through Honduras.
With money, guns, and power, drug gangs thrive on civil unrest and political inertia. In November, gunmen even attempted to kidnap the daughter of the country's former president. One Honduran woman's brief statement to The Telegraph perhaps says it best: "The gangs are watching us all the time and we know that after the military police leave, they will still be here."
The Future of the World's Most Dangerous Countries
Somalia, Syria, and Honduras have felt their fair share of defeat. But the actions of their own citizens, international organizations, and foreign governments show that danger doesn't go ignored. Traveling to these countries is a risk today, but with a universal refusal to allow these atrocities to continue, they may one day be top tourist destinations.
Speak With Your Money
When you put your money in a savings account, banks can invest those funds anywhere in the world – and with anyone. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean your piggy bank is bolstering corrupt governments or terrorist activities. The simplest way to speak with your money is to choose your own investments – and if you invest wisely, you'll even be rewarded with substantial profits. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.