The World’s 20 Most Dangerous Countries for U.S. Travelers

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Newsweek

The U.S. State Department issues travel advisories for every country in the world, ranging from Level 1 (exercise normal precautions) to Level 4 (do not travel). The level for China was raised last week from 1 to 2 (exercise increased caution) due to "arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals."

The State Department warned that the Chinese authorities could prevent U.S. citizens from leaving the country by issuing exit bans to "to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, or to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties."

In most cases, people only become aware of the exit ban when they try to leave China, and there is no way of finding out how long they may be prevented from leaving.

Read more: The World’s Most Powerful Passports in 2019

The State Department's Travel Advisory website contains must-read advice for anyone planning to travel to China or other potentially risky destinations.

For every country in the world with a rating of 2 or higher, the State Department also gives the reasons for that rating, spelling out the potential threats, such as crime, terrorism or civil unrest.

In this slideshow, Newsweek lists the world's 20 most dangerous countries for U.S. travelers, including ten countries rated as Level 4 (do not travel) and ten as Level 3 (reconsider travel). We also give some of the specific threats U.S. travelers may face in each country. For more details, read the full Travel Advisories on the State Department website.

01 Afghanistan
Shah Marai/AFP

Afghanistan: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
The latest Travel Advisory for Afghanistan warns of reports that "militants plan to conduct attacks using suicide bombings and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) against hotels, compounds, international organizations, universities, airports, and other locations frequented by U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals.  There are also current, credible kidnapping and assassination plans by criminal and insurgent groups that are targeting Americans in Kabul."
Photo: Afghan policemen stand guard near the site of a suicide bombing attack in Kabul on March 21, 2018.

02 Central African Republic
Gael Grilhot/AFP

Central African Republic: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime and civil unrest.
The threats range from petty theft and violent demonstrations to armed robbery and kidnapping. Travelers are warned that the Embassy "cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time. U.S. citizens in need of assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon."
Photo: Members of the armed forces arrest Alfred Yekatom aka "Rambo" after he fired a gun at the parliament in Bangui on October 29, 2018. The MP, who led a Christian militia which formed after Muslim rebels seized power in 2013, has since been extradited to The Hague to face trial for crimes against humanity.

03 Iraq
Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Iraq: Level 4. Do not travel due to terrorism and armed conflict.
The State Department website warns that "ISIS remains a threat to public safety in Iraq through the indiscriminate use of terrorist and asymmetrical attacks. Additionally, criminal gangs and local militias pose a potential threat to U.S. citizens."
Photo: Iraqi youths dressed in Father Christmas suits walk through the streets of the old city of Mosul as they distribute gifts, on December 26, 2018. -The three-year war against ISIS has left the country's former second city and the jihadists' capital in ruin.

04 Libya
Abdullah Doma/AFP

Libya: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
The State Department advises U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya, "as the security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. If in Libya, make contingency emergency plans to leave at a moment’s notice and maintain situational awareness at all times."
Photo: Libyans check the aftermath of an explosion in the eastern city of Benghazi on January 24, 2018. 

05 Mali
Philippe Deshayes/AFP

Mali: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime and terrorism.
"Mali continues to face significant political and security challenges amidst slow implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2015 that aims to resolve the ongoing conflict in northern Mali," warns the State Department website.
Photo: The flag-draped coffins of two soldiers from France's counter-terrorism force in West Africa who were killed on February 21, 2018 when their vehicle struck a mine in northeast Maliare, are carried during a ceremony in their honour at the headquarters of the 1st Spahi regiment in Valence.

06 North Korea
Kim Won-Jin/AFP

North Korea: Level Four. Do not travel due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals.
"U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in, or through North Korea, unless they are specially validated by the Department of State."
Photo: A foreign visitor (R) poses for a photo with a Korean People's Army soldier in front of a portrait of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, at the 22nd 'Kimjongilia Festival' flower festival in Pyongyang, marking the anniversary of Kim's birth.

07 Somalia
Abdi Husain Farah/AFP

Somalia: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime, terrorism, and piracy.
"Terrorist organizations and armed groups attack government authorities and facilities and civilian and non-governmental targets, including, but not limited to: hotels, restaurants, airports, seaports, and shopping areas. The U.S. government cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in Somalia."
Photo: People carry a wounded person following three suicide bomb car attacks in Mogadishu, on November 9, 2018. 

08 South Sudan
Stefanie Glinski/AFP

South Sudan: Level 4. Do not travel due to crime and armed conflict.
"Landmines remain a hazard, especially outside of Juba. Violent conflict between government forces and armed opposition groups continues throughout the country. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of Juba, even in emergencies, is extremely limited."
Photo: A rebel soldier poses with his gun in Touch Riak, Leer county, on March 7, 2018

09 Syria
Delil Souleiman/AFP

Syria: Level 4. Do not travel due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
"The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately. The Syrian regime has used deadly force to quell anti-government protests and is engaged in a full-scale civil war with armed groups. Syrian regime military operations have involved the use of ballistic missiles, aerial attacks, heavy artillery, and chemical weapons targeting civilian centers. Attacks from the regime or other groups could happen with little or no warning, no part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for unpredictable and hostile acts, including kidnappings, sniper assaults, terrorist attacks, small arms fire, improvised explosives, artillery shelling, airstrikes, the use of chemical weapons, large- and small-scale bombings, as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture."
Photo: Smoke billows after bombings in the Deir Ezzor province, near Hajin, eastern Syria, on December 15, 2018. 

10 Yemen
Mohammed Huwais/AFP

Yemen: Level 4. Do not travel due to terrorism, civil unrest, health, and armed conflict.
"Since the beginning of conflict in March 2015, rebel groups in Sana’a have systematically unlawfully detained U.S. citizens. Reports indicate that U.S. citizens are being targeted by virtue of their citizenship, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in Yemen, their established connections with the rebel groups, or their connections with local businesses or humanitarian organizations aimed at providing relief to those in need. During their detentions, which in some cases have lasted well over a year, U.S. citizens have not been able to contact their families or to be visited by U.S. consular personnel or international humanitarian organizations. The U.S. government is severely limited in what assistance it can directly provide to U.S. citizens in detention. There is no U.S. government presence on the ground following the rebel takeover of Sana’a."

11 Chad
Ludovic Marin/AFP

Chad: Level 3. Reconsider travel due to crime, terrorism, and minefields.
Photo: French president Emmanuel Macron reviews troops as he arrives at the tactical command center of the Barkhane force in N'Djamena on December 22, 2018.