Planning a trip to Africa? A popular destination for travelers seeking adventure, this beautiful continent is home to many amazing regions and countries. Whether you wish to have a memorable cultural experience or enjoy white sand beaches with crystal clear waters, Africa offers something for every traveler.
However, some countries in Africa are legitimately unsafe for tourists. If you travel to the wrong place, the entire trip might turn into a stressful experience. The truth is that some of these places are considered among the most dangerous in the world. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check the travel warnings and reports from Global Peace Index (GPI) before embarking on your trip to Africa.
If you are not sure about the safety of your chosen destination, this guide to the most dangerous places in Africa might help you decide where (not) to go!
Central African Republic
According to the Human Development Index, the Central African Republic is one of the most dangerous places in Africa. Things like aggravated assaults, robberies, and murder are quite common. It is also known that armed groups who control some parts of the country target civilians for kidnapping. Closing of land and air borders is frequent, which means that tourists can be left stranded without a chance to leave the country.
This African nation gained independence back in 1960. For the next 30 years, the Central African Republic was ruled by a variety of dictators. In 1993, the first multiple-party elections were held and Ange-Felix Patasse was the first democratically elected president. However, General Francois Bozize organized a coup in 2003 and took over the country. Since the beginning of the civil war in 2012, nothing much has changed in the CAR.
The Central African Republic is actually not a poor country. It has lots of recourses like gold, uranium, cobalt, and diamonds, and crude oil. Unfortunately, it is one of the most impoverished countries on the planet. The Human Development Index also shows that the CAR is the least healthy nation in the world.
If you are planning to visit Somalia, you should know that terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, and piracy are common. High-traffic areas that tourists are likely to frequent such as hotels, seaports, government buildings, restaurants, and airports are often targeted by terrorists. Terrorists are known to plan and enact bombings and kidnappings in these areas.
Displaying cash or other valuables around is not a good idea when visiting Somalia. We should also mention that violence against women is a serious issue in the country. For example, spousal violence is legal and there are no laws against it.
Somalia was not always a dangerous place. In the late 1960s, the Somali Democratic Republic was run by the Supreme Revolutionary Council. However, the Somali Civil War in the 1980s ended the peace and caused the majority of towns to go back to traditional laws. Today, Somalia faces ongoing armed conflicts, humanitarian crises, and a lack of state protection according to the 2020’s World Report. Free expression and media freedoms are restricted by federal and regional authorities in this African country.
One of the newest countries in Africa, South Sudan is a dangerous place for tourists. In 2011, South Sudan broke away from Sudan and gained its independence. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years, the country has experienced ethnic violence and civil war. Tourists are at risk of being caught in the middle of it all. Crimes like carjacking, robberies, kidnappings, and other shootings are quite common in South Sudan.
The country is especially dangerous for journalists who are often harassed. Some of them have been targeted by local armed groups and even killed in the last 10 years. According to the US State Department, foreign journalists have also been victims of rape and sexual assault in South Sudan.
In 2020, rival leaders, Riek Machar and Salva Kiir finally agreed and together formed a coalition government. Hopefully, this unity compromise will lead to less violence on the streets of South Sudan.
Democratic Republic of Congo
No list of the most dangerous places in Africa would be complete without mentioning the Democratic Republic of Congo. The biggest nation of sub-Saharan Africa, DRC is the 16th highest populated country in the world with 86 million people. The three largest cities are the capital Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Mbuhi-Mayi. With vast natural resources (raw minerals), the Democratic Republic of Congo is actually a rich country.
Unfortunately, most of the people living in DRC are dirt poor because of hundreds of years of colonial exploitation, poor infrastructure, corruption, military struggle, and political instability. The eastern region of Kivu is definitely the most dangerous part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Millions of people had immigrated to the neighboring states due to military struggle, brutal murders, kidnapping, and theft. To make things even worse, two million children are at risk of starvation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This short video documentary by a Croatian journalist, Hrvoje Ivancic, pretty much sums up the horrible situation in North Kivu, DRC.
Exotic landscapes and picturesque ancient sites make Libya a beautiful country. Sadly, this Islamic nation is one of the most dangerous places in Africa because of the ongoing civil war. The talks to end the second civil war in Libya continue to this day, but not much has changed in the last few years.
Many Libyan tour companies have ceased operation and some airports in the country are closed altogether. The risk of attack on commercial transportation might be the biggest threat in this African nation.
According to the US State Department, the threat of crime and kidnapping for ransom in Libya is high, especially for Westerners and U.S. citizens. Violent extremist activity is quite common in Libya and terrorist groups are known to target tourist spots such as shopping malls, restaurants, airports, and hotels. Numerous Islamic and tribal militias cause trouble even in larger cities such as Tripoli and Surman.
With a population of about 19 million people, Mali is the eighth-biggest country in Africa. Its economy relies mostly on agriculture and mining. It is also worth mentioning that this African nation is the 3rd greatest gold producer on the continent. Mali was a relatively safe destination to visit until 2012 when rebels seized control of northern territory.
The Tuareg and various other rebel factions fought each other at the time, but the French-led Malian national forces manage to defeat them and take back the majority of the occupied northern rebel territory. However, the political instability in Mali is a serious issue to this day. According to the US State Department, western tourists should avoid travel to Mali because of armed robbery, kidnapping, and violent crime. The worst areas for these problems are the central and northern parts of Mali.
For instance, in 2017, an armed group of terrorists killed 5 people near the capital city of Bamako at a tourist resort. Another example is the hostage situation at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako when over 170 were held against their will by armed terrorists.
What is the Most Dangerous Place in Africa?
According to the Global Peace Index, the most dangerous countries in Africa in 2020 are South Sudan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. The GPI rank is based on everything from crime statistics to the political and governmental situation in these African countries. If you wish to travel solo to these places, you should think twice before purchasing airline tickets.
So, the most dangerous country in Africa is South Sudan. It is actually one of the most dangerous destinations in the world, ranking right next to Syria and Afghanistan. The threat of armed conflicts, kidnapping, and crime in South Sudan is quite high. Due to years of civil war, many civilians have access to a bunch of weapons in the country. We should also mention that many mines can be found in rural areas. If you are planning to visit South Sudan as a journalist/reporter, you should know that journalism without permission from the local South Sudanese Media Authority is considered illegal.
Surprisingly, entering this African country is relatively easy. All you need to do is to obtain a visa and a vaccination for yellow fever which is quite common in Africa.
Where is the Safest Place in Africa?
If you are looking for the safest place in Africa, you should definitely pay a visit to Botswana. According to the GSI, Botswana is the safest nation on the continent. This landlocked country is nestled in the heart of Southern Africa and offers a wide range of cool tourist attractions.
Travelers can visit the world-famous Central Kalahari Game Reserve and see wild dogs, giraffes, cheetahs, and other animals. There is also the Okavango Delta where you will find a bunch of big cats. Other attractions in Botswana include the Tsodilo World-Heritage site, Chobe National Park, and Moremi Game Reserve. We should mention that nearly 40% of the nation’s territory is taken by wildlife areas and nature parks. The tourism industry is well-organized and all guests are kept safe while enjoying their safari adventures.
The economy in Botswana is quite strong and the government is known to be politically stable. The levels of corruption are low and tourists have access to medical services. The good news is also there is no visa required to enter Botswana. However, if you are entering the nation from yellow fever endemic countries, you are required to get vaccinated. An interesting fact is that according to GPI, Botswana is actually safer than a dozen of European countries.
There is no shortage of safe destinations to visit in Africa. For instance, Ethiopia is a beautiful country that attracts many tourists seeking adventure.
Where is the Safest Place for a Solo Traveler in Africa?
If you are planning to visit Africa on your own, you will be pleased to hear that Mauritius is considered the safest country for solo travelers in Africa. Situated in the Indian Ocean, this gorgeous island nation is well-known for its picturesque beaches with turquoise waters, reefs, and lagoons.
In addition to the beaches, the country also offers a range of other attractions. Visit the cosmopolitan town of Port Louis or admire the beauty of the National Botanical Gardens and its thousands of plant varieties.
As for the crime rate in Mauritius, it is very low. Petty theft is the only incident that can occur. Searching for similar articles? Check out our guide to the most dangerous places in Mexico.