Part of choosing where you want to settle down next is deciding where you don’t want to settle down.

There are plenty of places where you’ll be safe, but it’s also important to know where to avoid – assuming you value your life.

To figure out the world’s most dangerous cities, we utilised 10 data sets to analyse seven factors: natural disasters, homicides, war deaths, the impact of terrorism, road deaths, pollution, and the mortality rate for children under five years old. You can read about our methodology at the bottom of the page.

The tables under each of the top 11 cities don’t include all the categories we analysed, just the ones in which the city in question did especially badly.

We could have considered more factors, of course, but we believe that the above list is more than enough to decide the most dangerous places on the planet.

The Most Dangerous Cities:

1. Kinshasa
2. Bangui
3. Mogadishu
4. Ouagadougou
5. Peshawar
6. Rawalpindi
7. Palma
8. Kabul
9. Chibok
10. Timbuktu
11. Karachi

1. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Natural disastersHomicidesWar deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate
a view of kinshasa, drc

Kinshasa is plagued by war, terrorism, and dictatorships (Kayhan Ertugrul, CC BY-SA 3.0)

With around 15 million people, Kinshasa is the most populous city in Africa – and also the most dangerous place on Earth.

We dug up data in seven categories, and the DRC’s capital was among the 30 worst cities in every single one, other than pollution – and its air quality is still terrible.

The latest data indicates that its inhabitants have to breathe in 45 micrograms of PM2.5 (pollution particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers) per cubic metre, which is 4.5 times over the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) limit for healthy air.

The DRC is the fourth-poorest country in the world, has long been beset by war, terrorism, and dictatorships, and suffers regular epidemics, droughts, floods, and volcanic eruptions.

2018 saw the first peaceful, democratic transition of power in the country’s history, so things may be looking up – but don’t risk it just yet.

2. Bangui, Central African Republic

HomicidesWar deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate

Just over the border from the DRC sits Bangui, the capital city of CAR, which is the third-poorest country in the world.

11% of all children born in CAR die before the age of five, and for those who do survive, the average life expectancy is a short 53.1 years – the second-lowest on the planet.

Like the DRC, CAR became independent from France in 1960, but has been plagued by dictatorships, coups, and an ongoing civil war that’s displaced more than one-fifth of the population and caused thousands of deaths.

3. Mogadishu, Somalia

War deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate

Somalia also gained independence in 1960, before enduring a series of bloody coups and brutal dictatorships.

These power struggles eventually led to a civil war, which started in 1991 and hasn’t fully ended yet.

Since 2012, as the country has taken encouraging steps towards democracy, the port city of Mogadishu has been able to partly recover.

However, its healthcare services are the second-worst in the world, and the ongoing war with extremist groups including Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and Islamic State continues to claim thousands of lives every year.

4. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

War deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate
motorcyclists in Ouagadougou, burkina faso

You have a one in 3,300 chance of dying on the roads each year in Ouagadougou

Burkina Faso has seen coups repeatedly interrupt its democratic process since becoming independent from France in 1960.

This has made it difficult to create any long-term plans to improve a healthcare system in which one in every 11 newborns dies.

Transport infrastructure has also suffered, leading to a one in 3,300 chance of dying on the roads each year.

Terrorist attacks and pitched battles with jihadists and extremists, including Al-Qaeda, have also led to many deaths in the landlocked country’s capital.

5. Peshawar, Pakistan

War deathsTerrorismPollutionUnder-5 mortality rate

Peshawar is the second-most polluted city on Earth, and has the highest air pollution of any destination.

Its level of PM10 particles is 2,600% higher than the WHO’s guideline for what is acceptable.

These particles can end up in your lungs or even your bloodstream, potentially resulting in aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, heart attacks, and an irregular heartbeat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Terrorism is also horribly common, including the infamous 2014 Army Public School massacre, in which Taliban terrorists killed 149 people, including 132 children.

6. Rawalpindi, Pakistan

War deathsTerrorismPollutionUnder-5 mortality rate

This city in northern Pakistan has PM2.5 and PM10 levels that are 970% and 2,140% above the WHO’s guidelines, respectively.

Here you can find steel-rolling mills, leather tanneries, oil refineries, and brick kilns, all of which discharge dangerous emissions.

This is exacerbated by residential fumes from wood stoves, biomass fires, and the open incineration of waste – including dead plant matter and faeces.

Rawalpindi is also a terrorist haven, and sits just a short distance from the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which has long been claimed by both India and Pakistan, and has been the cause of most conflicts between these two nuclear powers.

7. Palma, Mozambique

War deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate

Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal in 1975, only to descend into a 15-year-long civil war just two years later.

The war finished in 1992, but a rebel insurgency was launched soon after, and continues to this day, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of internal refugees.

The country is also dealing with the threat of religious extremists including Islamic State, who in 2021 took over the north-eastern town of Palma.

During the occupation, the terrorists displaced around 40,000 residents and killed dozens of people, adding to an overall death toll that has seen 2,600 lives lost in the region.

8. Kabul, Afghanistan

Natural disastersWar deathsTerrorismUnder-5 mortality rate
boy sits on tank overlooking kabul, afghanistan

A boy sits on a destroyed tank overlooking the war-ravaged city of Kabul

The western powers’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 is unlikely to stem the tide of deaths there, as the country is now under Taliban rule.

As the UK government puts it: “Multiple violent groups operate in Afghanistan that hold strong anti-Western views; this could make any UK interest or person a target.”

The government adds that “further attacks are increasingly likely” – a terrifying concept, considering the capital, Kabul, is already the global epicentre of terrorist activity.

As recently as August 2021, at least 183 people were killed by a suicide bombing at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Afghanistan is also susceptible to avalanches, droughts, earthquakes, floods, and landslides.

9. Chibok, Nigeria

HomicidesWar deathsTerrorismUnder-5 mortality rate

12% of babies born in Nigeria die before they turn five, and those who survive to adulthood have to deal with a country that’s rapidly become overrun by terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and Boko Haram.

Chibok was where, in 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls – and violence continues in and around the city today.

In November 2020, insurgents killed at least 70 people in the area, while others were injured and abducted.

Crime is also rife, with around 17,000 people murdered each year across the country.

10. Timbuktu, Mali

HomicidesWar deathsTerrorismRoad deathsUnder-5 mortality rate
Sankore mosque in Timbuktu, Mali

Timbuktu is home to some ancient wonders – but it’s too dangerous to see them

Kidnapping, murder, and terrorism are common in Mali, and not least in Timbuktu.

This small, impoverished city in the centre of the country is home to the incredible mosques of Djingareyber, Sankore, and Sidi Yahia.

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly unsafe to see these wonders, as terrorist attacks by religious extremists are frequent.

Timbuktu’s Festival au Désert was cancelled in January 2017 – and then again for each of the following four years, due to concerns it would be targeted by terrorists.

11. Karachi, Pakistan

War deathsTerrorismPollutionUnder-5 mortality rate

The 15 million residents of Karachi – the largest city in Pakistan – must live with horrific levels of pollution.

Around 7,000 people die prematurely each year because of the city’s PM2.5 levels alone.

These emissions largely result from the huge number of vehicles on the roads, plus emissions from local factories and people burning their rubbish.

As if that wasn’t enough, the UK government advises that “terrorist related activity still occurs in Karachi,” adding that criminal violence is common, including “armed carjacking, robbery, kidnap, and murder.”

The safest cities in the world

We’ve also utilised the Safe Cities Index created by The Economist to identify the safest destinations in the world.

While the most dangerous cities lie exclusively in former European colonies, the least dangerous ones are almost entirely either found in nations that have never been colonised by European powers, or countries which have long been independent.

The racial inequality is telling. Seven of the most dangerous cities are in Africa, with four in the Middle East, whereas the safest cities are in Europe, North America, Oceania, and east Asia.

Abu Dhabi is the safest city not to feature in any of these regions – and it comes all the way down in 31st position.

1. Copenhagen
2. Toronto
3. Singapore
4. Sydney
5. Tokyo
6. Amsterdam
7. Wellington
8. Hong Kong
9. Melbourne
10. Stockholm
11. Barcelona


We used multiple sources to attain enough data to rank 200 cities around the world across the seven categories mentioned in this article: natural disasters, homicides, war deaths, the impact of terrorism, road deaths, pollution, and the mortality rate for children under five years old.

Those sources were Our World in Data, Mexican activist group The Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Global Terrorism Index, the World Health Organisation, The Eco Experts, and the World Bank again.

We then ranked each location on how it placed in the different categories, which allowed us to give each one an overall ranking.