Murder rates are increasing all over the world. Developing countries in Latin America and Africa are the most hard-hit by these fatalities, a fact that is linked to their social and economic development. Even in developed countries, like the US and England, these crimes are increasing in cities and neighborhoods with extreme social and economic inequalities. Successful preventive policies have been outlined that would focus on the biggest problem areas and at-risk communities. Ensuring effective justice systems, complete with efficient investigations and fair trials, is another solution to the homicide problem faced by the world today. The solution requires dedication on an international and local level. Governments around the world must make protecting human life a priority.
Countries With the 10 Highest Murder Rates
1. Honduras (90.4 per 100,000)
Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, with 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people. San Pedro Sula, in the northwest of the country, is at the center of much of this small Central American country's violence. Unfortunately, Honduras also has the highest incidence of firearm-related deaths in the world.
2. Venezuela (53.7 per 100,000)
Venezuela has the second highest murder rate in the world. The country loses 53.7 people per 100,000 each year to homicide. Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In fact, it is considered the second most murderous city in the world. With increasing political turmoil, this number has been increasing.
3. The United States Virgin Islands (52.6 per 100,000)
The United States Virgin Islands are more well-known for being a tourist destination than they are for their high murder rate. However, the territory of the United States has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The Virgin Islands, particularly the island of St. Thomas, has seen an increase in crime over the past several years. These crimes include random acts of violence against tourists.
4. Belize (44.7 per 100,00)
Although Belize is a popular destination for tourists, it does have one of the highest murder rates in the world, at 44.7 per 100,000 people. Aside from murder, general petty crime is also a concern in Belize.
5. El Salvador (41.2 per 100,000)
El Salvador has the fifth highest homicide rate in the world at 41.2 murders per 100,000 individuals. Estimates indicate that approximately 60% of these incidents are related to gang activity. Additionally, El Salvador still experiences instability, much of which is a remnant of a destructive civil war which lasted from 1979 until 1992.
6. Guatemala (39.9 per 100,000)
Guatemala has 39.9 murders per every 100,000 inhabitants. Gang violence is a big concern in the country. The trafficking of illegal drugs, and a high rate of firearm both are contributing factors to the high crime rate.
7. Jamaica (39.3 per 100,000)
Jamaica has the world's fourth highest murder rate. Unfortunately, this is a position that Jamaica has held consistently for several years. The latest measurement of 39.3 people per 100,000 is actually a decrease from the country's highest murder rate of 58 people per 100,000, which was experienced in 2005. Most of Jamaica's homicides are a result of organized crime activity.
8. Lesotho (38 per 100,000)
Lesotho is a small country found in southern Africa. Its murder rate is 38 homicides per 100,000 people, the eighth highest in the world. Most crime in Lesotho is restricted to the country's urban areas. The capital city of Maseru is thought to be particularly dangerous to locals and tourists alike.
9. Swaziland (33.8 per 100,000)
Swaziland has a homicide rate of 33.8 per 100,000 people. The factors contributing to the country's murder rate include ones such as wealth inequality, widespread corruption, poverty, unemployment, and a lack of infrastructure.
10. Saint Kitts and Nevis (33.6 per 100,000)
The tiny Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis has the tenth highest murder rate in the world. The crime rate in Saint Kitts and Nevis, which has been increasing in recent years, is mostly linked to organized crime.
Factors Affecting High Murder Rates
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has conducted a study to identify the prominent factors that seem to result in high murder rates. Countries with the widest gaps between rich and poor are four times more likely to experience violent crimes than other countries. These inequitable societies are found most often in developing countries, where high poverty lacking infrastructure are commonplace. In fact, poverty and crime go hand in hand; crime drives away businesses and investors, reducing available human capital, and creating an insecure environment which in turn, leads to more poverty. Organized crime, like gangs and drug trafficking, also contribute to high murder rates. This is particularly true in countries like Jamaica, Honduras, and El Salvador. Organized crime is also more likely to be participated in by young males who, consequently, are also more likely to be a victim of murder. Drug and alcohol use are also related to high murder and poverty rates. Intoxication increases the risk of being involved (either as the guilty party or the victim) in a murder.
Countries that are experiencing political turmoil and violent conflict are also more likely to experience high murder rates. This is the case with El Salvador, which is still recovering from its civil war. When internal conflict is ongoing or not completely resolved, the violence is often seen in the form of homicide.
Preventive Measures To Be Undertaken
In order to reduce these climbing murder rates, governments must focus on preventive measures. Given its connection to poverty and social issues, crime preventive policies need to focus on more than just punishments. Without including economic and social development strategies in local policy, violent crimes are likely to continue. Additionally, these policies must be targeted at the most at-risk populations. As this article has discussed, murder rates are highest among young males and in urban areas. Successful initiatives would focus on urban-living youth and involve other community members in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty and violence.
Many scholars also point to the availability of firearms as a major contributing factor to homicide rates, saying that restricting gun access would help reduce murders. It is true that the majority of murders throughout the Americas are committed with guns. However, this point is heavily disputed. Gun restriction proponents point to the case in Brazil, where gun access was restricted and the murder rate dropped. Proponents for gun ownership point to the case in Venezuela, where gun access was denied, guns were taken away, and the murder rate increased.
In countries recovering from internal conflict and political instability, it is important to reduce violence in general. This involves restoring law and order and stabilizing the country. The conflict must be fully addressed by the government and resolved to avoid any lingering effects.
Top 25 Murder Rates By Country
|Rank||Country||Homicide Rate (Per 100,000 Inhabitants)|
|2||Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)||53.7|
|3||United States Virgin Islands||52.6|
|10||Saint Kitts and Nevis||33.6|
|14||Democratic Republic of the Congo||28.3|
|15||Trinidad and Tobago||28.3|
|17||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||25.6|
|32||Saint Pierre and Miquelon||16.5|
|40||United Republic of Tanzania||12.7|
|44||Bolivia (Plurinational State of)||12.1|
|46||Central African Republic||11.8|
|49||Antigua and Barbuda||11.2|
|54||Papua New Guinea||10.4|
|74||British Virgin Islands||8.4|
|89||State of Palestine||7.4|
|93||Turks and Caicos Islands||6.6|
|96||Republic of Moldova||6.5|
|101||Lao People's Democratic Republic||5.9|
|103||Democratic People's Republic of Korea||5.2|
|111||United States of America||4.7|
|114||Micronesia (Federated States of)||4.6|
|120||Iran (Islamic Republic of)||4.1|
|132||Sao Tome and Principe||3.3|
|152||Syrian Arab Republic||2.2|
|172||The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||1.4|
|176||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1.3|
|194||Republic of Korea||0.9|
|200||United Arab Emirates#||0.7|
|205||China, Macao SAR||0.7|
|209||China, Hong Kong SAR||0.4|