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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


HAITI – Being the least developed country in the Americas, it’s only natural that the Haitians make up for their low income with kidnapping. Furthermore, 80 per cent of the population is living in poverty and over half of the country’s inhabitants are illiterate. Haiti remains an unsafe place to visit, even considering the presence of the UN stabilization force. Kidnappers and street gangs are thriving in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

The targets include rich Haitians, diplomats, aid workers and, of course, foreign tourists. If you’re willing to leave that aside, Haiti is a place of colorful art, fascinating traditions, vibrant music and spiritual people.

9. Iraq – Made by the Sumerians and Babylonians the centre of the ancient world, Iraq has been under turmoil since the American’s invasion in 2003.

It doesn’t come as a surprise, considering the widespread civil violence, that Iraq isn’t one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Violence and kidnappings occur on a regular basis and are mainly aimed at foreigners. Once the home to the most ancient civilizations, Iraq is now a place where several distinct forces are competing for control.

8. Afghanistan – Once known as the centre of ancient empires or, in recent years, as a country with a great backpacking circuit, Afghanistan has been experiencing a lot of turmoil in the wars that have been waging for over 25 years. Presently, several areas of the country remain unsafe for travelers, particularly during the NATO-led operations against the Talibans and Al-Qaeda. Attacks targeting foreigners are ever frequent, especially suicide bombings concentrated around foreign embassies. Visitors are recommended to avoid gatherings, avoid travelling alone or at night. Afghanistan presently has one of the most volatile situations.

7. Chechnya – Ever since the Russian empire collapsed in 1991, southern Russian has been marked by the conflict between the Chechen separatists and the Russian forces, thus reducing almost most of the province to sad ruins of a long war. Rich in petro-chemicals, natural gas and oil, the country’s economy and infrastructure have been experiencing a serious crash, due to the on-going conflicts. Leaving that aside, Chechnya has a surprisingly beautiful mountainside, with its mineral waters, making it a great spa centre.

6. Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation has a fascinating mixture of over 200 ethnic groups that, coupled with an unstable economy, often leads to a volatile situation. According to news reports, over 200 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta, most situations being resolved with a ransom.

5. Philippines – The archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands is a fascinating, laidback natural paradise, with friendly, engaging people. But there’s a reason we included Philippines among the countries most likely to get kidnapped. North Cotabato, Mindanao, Zamboanga peninsula, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and the Sulu archipelago are just a few areas that a traveller should necessarily avoid. Apart from the usual robberies and kidnappings, foreigners also risk having a drug put in their drink that knocks one out immediately. Tourists are then either robbed, raped or have their kidneys taken. 10 hours are needed to wake up from the drug and another three days to remember what happened.

4.Venezuela – With some of the most spectacular landscapes and the longest waterfall in the world, Venezuela truly is a sight not to be missed, if you’re willing to leave aside street crime, kidnappings or political turmoil. If not, know that street crime is present on a daily basis throughout the country. Tourists in Venezuela are the easiest target for pickpockets; so try to look like anything but a tourist. Don’t wear jewelry, watches, avoid unfolding maps, taking pictures and stay away from poor areas. To avoid problems, simply stay in the touristic areas.

3. Colombia – National parks, high mountains, cruise boats or soaring skyscrapers are just a few of the numerous attractions Colombia has to offer. Even though it might sound like an untroubled paradise, Colombia has its fair share of drug dealers, robberies and kidnappings. Even though safety has improved in recent years, Colombia still suffers from high kidnapping and homicide rates in urban areas. The extra violence is provoked by the guerrillas which operate mainly in rural areas – the places to be avoided are the border areas with Ecuador and Venezuela.

2. Brazil – The largest country in South America, teeming with beaches and untamed forests, Brazil is one of the most vibrant and colorful places on the continent. As with the other countries on the list, the downside is the street crime present in big cities, where attacks against tourists have become frequent. Apart from the usual kidnappings, there are also a high number of muggings; so simply leave your valuables at the hotel and take with you only a small amount of money. To top it all off, Brazil experienced an increase in the number of yellow fever and dengue fever cases, so be sure to have your shots before entering the country.

1. Mexico – With a mix of modern city life and a reminiscent ancient civilization, Mexico is one of the liveliest, yet most dangerous countries on the list. You’ll come across plenty of corruption and the usual street crime that comes with every big city. Kidnapping for ransom is fairly common, especially in border cities such as Tijuana, Nogales or Juarez. As with other cities on the list, try not to look like a tourist, avoid flashing shiny, expensive objects and you should be fine.

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