Dec. 20, 2011 at 12:03 PM ET
By Michael B. Sauter, 24/7 Wall St.
Recently, a series of roadside bombs killed 11 people and injured dozens more in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attacks were part of coordinated assaults by insurgent elements around the country that killed 32 people and remind us how violent the area remains.
Research consulting firm Mercer has released its 2011 Quality of Living Report, which includes ranking of the cities according to the level of personal safety. Baghdad is the most violent city on the list. Based on Mercer’s list, 24/7 Wall St. has examined the 10 most dangerous cities in the world.
All of these areas suffer from great political instability that has led to politically motivated violence. This climate of instability also has created an ideal breeding ground for crime motivated by profit. Whether the violence is criminal or political in nature, it perpetuates socioeconomic conditions that keep those nations’ economies depressed.
Nearly all the countries of the cities on the list have experienced a violent coup or national war in recent past. In Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a brief but severe military conflict with Russia in 2008 led to long-term economic problems and the increased availability of firearms.
In many of these cities, the central national violent conflict is ongoing. In Yemen, long-reigning president Saleh has just stepped down, but a large group of citizens are demanding his execution. As a result, firefights between protesters and government troops are ongoing.
For all the cities on the list, the U.S. Department of State has urged Americans to avoid the country altogether and in many cases suggested citizens who remain there leave.
To illustrate the violent conditions in each city, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. These reports detail the type of crime or violence in the area, including whether Americans are being targeted. We also included the socioeconomic conditions for each country to reflect how violence and depressed living conditions are almost always interconnected. We referred to adult literacy rates, adult mortality rates and the percentage of the population living on less than $1 per day, based on data from the United Nations. To demonstrate the impact that violence has on the economy, we obtained GDP per capita from the International Monetary Fund.
1. Baghdad, Iraq
Nearly nine years after the U.S. began combat operations in Iraq, violence continues to ravage the capital city of Baghdad. Intermittent suicide bombings, random gunfire, roadside bombs and other attacks still occur throughout the city. In the past two weeks, dozens of Iraqi civilians have been killed in separate events. With American troops leaving the country, many are unsure whether Iraqi security forces can keep the region at even the current level of stability.
2. N’Djamena, Chad
Just 12.2 percent of Chad’s population is literate, the third-worst rate in the world according to the UN. Also, 447 out of every 1,000 residents who reach the age of 15 will not make it to the age of 60. According to the State Department, the capital city of N’Djamena is actually the safest place to be in the country. The fact that the city is still rated by Mercer as the second most dangerous city in the world is proof of how unsafe the country as a whole is. In June, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued a travel warning to the country, and has prohibited any government employees to travel outside of N’Djamena.
3. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
After former-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to give up power following his loss in the October, 2010 election, violence broke out in Côte d’Ivoire. Gbagbo has since been arrested and is set to go on trial at the Hague. However, according to the Department of State, “Although Abidjan (the largest city in the country) is considerably calmer since the arrest of former President Gbagbo, law and order have yet to return to all of Abidjan’s neighborhoods and some parts of the countryside.”