The 10 Most Dangerous Countries in the World

By: Patrick J. Kiger & Sascha Bos  | 
Taliban rule Afghanistan
Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, women have lost most of their rights. Here they wait in a queue with a Taliban fighter watching over them during a World Food Programme cash distribution in Kabul. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

While something bad could happen to you in even the statistically safest countries, there are places where the likelihood of violence is much higher.

When it comes to determining the most dangerous country in the world, one highly regarded source is The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an international nonpartisan think tank based in Sydney, Australia, focusing on peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.


As part of that mission, since 2008, IEP has analyzed data on 23 indicators — from homicide and violent crime rates to terrorism, political instability, violent demonstrations and weapons imports. All that information goes into compiling its annual Global Peace Index, which ranks countries on how peaceful — or conversely, how dangerous — they are.

In IEP's Global Peace Index 2023 report, the organization concluded that the world became less peaceful overall, with peacefulness improving in 84 countries but deteriorating in 79 others, with the declines generally steeper than improvements elsewhere.

While a low rating on the index doesn't directly equate to the risk of violence, "being ranked amongst the 10 least peaceful countries almost always means that a country is involved in an ongoing conflict, has high levels of violence or is highly militaristic," Thomas Morgan, IEP's associate director of research, said via email.

So what are the 10 most dangerous countries in the world? Here they are, ranked from least to most dangerous, according to the IEP index.


10. Iraq

Baghdad protests
Demonstrators in Baghdad face police during an antigovernment protest in May 2021, demanding accountability after a recent rise in targeted assassinations of journalists and human rights advocates. Taha Hussein Ali/Getty Images

Although it remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world — according to the U.S. State Department, "terrorist and insurgent groups regularly attack Iraqi security forces and civilians" and "attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad" — Iraq improved its ranking in 2023.

Fewer than a third of Iraqis rate the government highly for providing safe food and water and reliable electricity, according to the Lloyd's Register Foundation report.


9. Sudan

In April 2023, conflict broke out between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). According to the United Nations, civil war in Sudan has caused 1 million people to leave the country, with millions more displaced within Sudan.

Internal conflict has led to shortages of food and a 50 percent increase in reports of sexual assault, according to the U.N. Even before the civil unrest, conflict was on the uptick in Sudan, which lost 39.7 percent of its GDP due to violence in 2022.


8. Somalia

car bombing Mogadishu
Five people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a car bombing near in Somalia's capital Mogadishu in November 2021. Car bombings are a regular occurrence in the troubled country. AFP via Getty Images

It's the place where 18 U.S. Special Forces personnel were killed in a bloody clash with a Somali warlord's forces in 1993, in the incident that inspired Mark Bowden's book Black Hawk Down, as well as the movie based upon it. But more than a quarter-century later, Somalia still is a violent place.

As of Jul. 31, 2023, the U.S. State Department ranks Somalia as a "do not travel" country, noting that "kidnapping, murder and other violent crimes are common, and terrorists continue to target airports, government buildings, hotels, shopping areas and just about anyplace else that people gather with attacks by car bombs, mortars and suicide bombers."


The African nation has seen 20 percent of its population displaced as the result of an ongoing conflict between government forces and al-Shabab, a militant group. According to IEP's report, the violence cost the nation 35.4 percent of its economic output in 2022.

7. Ukraine

According to the IEP, " there were at least 82,200 conflict-related deaths in Ukraine in 2022, although the true number is likely to be much higher."

Ukraine had the largest deterioration in peacefulness of any country in IEP's 2023 report, joining the list of the top 10 most dangerous countries for the first time.


Due to the ongoing conflict, 30 percent of Ukraine's population is estimated to be displaced (pre-invasion, just 1.7 percent of the population was displaced).

6. Russia

Russian protestors
Police officers in Russia detain a woman with a poster reading "Freedom for Alexei Navalny" during a protest in Moscow in August 2021. Russia has banned organizations established by jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as the opposition says the authorities are trying to stifle dissent ahead of parliamentary elections. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in what would become the largest European war since the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

According to the IEP, "Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its consequences were the main drivers of the deterioration in peacefulness globally" in 2022, bringing the nation to its lowest peacefulness score since 2008.


5. Democratic Republic of the Congo

DR Congo asylum seekers
A group of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) asylum-seekers carry their belongings past a truck reading PEACE at the border of Uganda in November 2021, after a deadly fight between M23 rebels and DRC troops. Thousands of people living near DR Congo's eastern border with Uganda fled their homes after suspected insurgents attacked army positions. BADRU KATUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

Congo is the fifth most dangerous country in part because of deteriorating relations in 2020 with neighboring Zambia over disputed territory, which led to border skirmishes between the two countries' military forces, according to IEP's report. Violence cost Congo 13 percent of its gross domestic product in 2022.

As of Jul. 31, 2023, the U.S. State Department ranks Congo as a "reconsider travel" country, noting that "violent crime, such as armed robbery, armed home invasion, and assault, is common and local police lack resources to respond effectively to serious crime. Assailants may pose as police or security agents."


4. South Sudan

South Sudan crisis
Women from the Murle ethnic group in the fourth most dangerous country wait in line for a food distribution by the United Nations World Food Programme in June 2021. Their village was attacked by an armed youth group, which led to the displacement of thousands of individuals and an increased humanitarian need in an area. SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP via Getty Images

The African nation broke away from Sudan and began an independent state in 2011, but disputes between the two countries keep the South Sudan volatile, according to the U.S. State Department, which says that abuses against civilians, including "appalling levels of sexual violence," have forced 4 million people to flee their homes, leaving 42 percent of the population displaced.

Internal conflict in the Sub-Saharan African country increased in 2022, with the nation losing 39.7 percent of its gross domestic product to violence, according to IEP's report.


3. Syria

Syrian refugees
In the decades-long Syrian conflict, as many as 5.5 million Syrians have become refugees, many of them children, including these at a refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan. Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

The Middle Eastern country has some improvement in political stability due to President Bashar al-Assad solidifying his hold upon power. Even so, the decade-long civil war has created a humanitarian crisis, and the IEP considers Syria the third most dangerous country in the world.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that 5.5 million people — many of them children — have fled Syria since the fighting started, in what has become the world's largest refugee crisis in decades. According to IEP, 61 percent of Syria's population is displaced.


2. Yemen

Yemen famine
Yemen ranks as one of the worst countries for food security, and many of its children are on the brink of starvation. Here a Yemeni girl diagnosed with malnutrition is weighed at a medical center where she receives treatment. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

The Persian Gulf nation was the least peaceful nation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for the third consecutive year. A civil war between a Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has killed 150,000 people since 2015, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition, Yemen increasingly is plagued by violent crime. Nearly 13 percent of the population is refugees or internally displaced people. Polling shows that 51 percent of people in the second most dangerous country consider themselves less safe than in the past.


In The Lloyds Register Foundation World Risk Poll, conducted in 2019, Yemen ranked worst in the world in the population's perception of whether the government did a good job of providing safe food and water and reliable electricity.

According to IEP, conflict-related deaths in Yemen fell by 63 percent in 2022, due to a ceasefire that reduced the number of airstrikes.


1. Afghanistan

bomb attack Afghanistan
Afghanistan has been extremely unstable and dangerous for decades, and bomb attacks like this one near the Shia Mosque in Kabul occur regularly. Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Afghanistan earned the unwanted distinction of being the least peaceful place on the planet for the eighth consecutive year on IEP's index. However, in 2022, conflict-related deaths fell by 90.6 percent.

Since the Taliban's takeover in 2021, few people have been permitted to leave the country, and according to Human Rights Watch, Taliban forces have executed former officials and raided homes of journalists, activists and human rights defenders. Women's and girls' rights are under attack, and many females who were previously in authority positions have been fired.

Violence in Afghanistan ate up 39.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2022. In addition to military hostilities, Afghanistan also has severe crime problems. In a 2019 Gallup Poll, just 13 percent of Afghans felt safe walking alone at night, and 50 percent said they had money or property stolen from them.

The lack of peacefulness in the low-ranked countries can be a problem for inhabitants and visitors. "This depends on the country and the type of violence," Morgan says. "It is possible for high levels of violence to be concentrated in certain regions, while other regions remain relatively safe. Generally speaking however, a country that is ranked at the very end of the index will likely be in some sort of open conflict, meaning that peacefulness is an issue for both inhabitants and visitors."