Certainly, most of the world has gotten a lot better over time as evidenced by the wealth and prosperity seen in countries such as Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and the United States. Even in nations which have significant issues related to suppression of civil liberties or disturbing levels of absolute poverty, such as China and India, there is still ongoing improvement. However, in certain places controlled by militant ideologies, authoritarian fiscal policy, or just a general law-of-the-jungle cultural attitude there still exists astounding atrocities.
Get ready for a bevy of nations in which being mugged, car-jacked, wrongly imprisoned, forced to flee your home, arbitrarily executed by the government, or blown up by a terrorist is an everyday risk. If you enjoy macabre reports about despots, or if you’ve had a bad day and need to reflect on how much worse things could be, this list is for you. Enjoy the article…that is if you can.
15. El Salvador
Rife with gang violence, El Salvador hosts gangs which, collectively numbering twenty-five thousand members, are the size of a small army. These gangs, coupled with ineffective police protection, make El Salvador an incredibly dangerous place to live. In fact, the country reported its first murder free day in two years at the beginning of 2017. According to some sources, this country has a murder rate even higher than South Africa and Venezuela.
Although El Salvador once had the capacity for economic and social ascension, recent leftist take over of the country in the form of the National Liberation Front and the Venezuela-backed Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, circa 2009, has eliminated this possibility. For example, price and wage controls have paralyzed business development, subsidization schemes have not spurred economic advancement, and the rule of law is constantly undermined by perennial corruption.
Even with the end of the Sudanese civil war and the subsequent split between the new nation of South Sudan and the north, the latter region is still plagued with civil unrest and government oppression. Millions of people who were displaced during the over decade-long civil war have no place of permanent residence, let alone the basic necessities of life. Along with that, governors which lead some territories have been charged with crimes against their own citizens by the International Criminal Court including widespread looting, extrajudicial murders, torching villages, and mass rape. This violence vis-a-vis the State has sparked mass migration out of the country into neighboring Chad and South Sudan.
Although poverty has been marginally alleviated in the last decade or so, Colombia still suffers a crushing specific combination of social ills rarely seen else where in the world.
First, ever since the sixties, the country has been subject to multi-party civil strife for control of the country. Organizations vying for control have included leftist guerrillas, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces (or FARC), anti-Marxists paramilitary forces, the existing Colombian government, and covert agents of the United States. Although some of those actors have largely exited their attempt to dominate the nation, several other terror groups beside FARC, continue to conduct hit-and-run raids on the Colombian military and bomb civilian areas.
Second, where there aren’t paramilitary groups, brutally violent criminal cartels traffic in firearms, narcotics, and kidnapping which terrorize and dominate the civilian populace. Besides accruing vast fortunes for their leader “barons”, these cartels often financially support their favored paramilitary organization.
Third, as with most South American countries, the Colombian government is a far cry from a competent protector of the rights of its citizens. Most notably, the countries judicial system has been distorted by extortion and corruption.
12. South Africa
Obviously, South Africa’s social and economic problems arose predominantly during apartheid, which began during the late forties, but continued even after racial separatism was ended during the nineteen-nineties. When Nelson Mandela was elected president he made public his support not only for communist dictators, like Fidel Castro but also their political policies. These policies were so disastrous that, rather than redress the economic oppression instituted by apartheid, Mandela’s implementation of socialism ruined the fortunes of all South Africans. Private property was expropriated, entire businesses were nationalized, with the end goal of making “industry [become] transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.” Further, between the years of 1995-2000 incomes for average South African dropped forty percent, I’ll repeat forty percent, across all races.
These economic conditions have become kindling for a new wave of civil conflagration. Currently, South Africa has one of the highest rape rates, murder rates, and the highest incidence of vehicular theft in the world. Crime is so bad, in fact, that some of the country’s residents have had to hire private security guards for personal protection in lieu an often impotent police force. However, given the nation’s depressed economy and poor average income, this is an expense that most South Africans cannot afford.
Despite its pretty beaches, lush forests, and ample petroleum reserves, the Bolivarian Republic has degenerated into anarchy under the rule of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. For years price and wage controls, plus the gross mismanagement of the country’s nationalized oil industry have virtually destroyed the possibility of economic development. Given the countries strangled private sector and stagnant growth, the government’s only solution has, unfortunately, been to implement even more controls. This has included the rationing of foodstuffs, toiletries, and even utilities.
As a nation’s economy falls, so too does its civil liberties. In Venezuela, the government has eliminated political opposition and the press has been silenced from voicing dissenting points of view. On top of this, peaceful marches and demonstrations by Venezuelan citizens are quite frequent as is accompanying police brutality and politically motivated mass abductions. To see even more examples of the dire conditions the Venezuelan people are subject to see our article “15 Shocking Realities About Living In Venezuela.”
Being awash in suicide bombings and ground fighting between Pakistani government forces and terrorist groups, Pakistan has been ranked as the fifth most dangerous country in the world according to World Atlas. Besides terrorism, endemic sectarian violence and abductions contribute to the seemingly endless levels of violence in the country. Western nationals being those who are most prone to being targeted for abductions.
Escaping the violence or even fleeing the country is difficult if not impossible. To the south the Pakistani-Indian border has been heavily militarized making migration difficult; American and British aerial strikes frequently occur in the northwest and often end up killing civilians; finally, the Taliban along with ISIS-aligned elements seem to be everywhere else.
Aside from a corrupt government and struggling economy Nigeria has been afflicted with several terrorist organizations and vigilante activism. Some of the more notable examples of these groups include militant Islamists ISIS’s West Africa branch Boko Haram. This groups explicitly rejects the teaching of even the most basic of scientific concepts, such as the earth being a sphere, and instead want to turn Nigeria and the surrounding countries into a unified Wahhabi nation. In order to destabilize the government and intimidate opposing Nigerians, Boko Haram conducts terror attacks on schools, restaurants, hotels, religious centers, various other major thoroughfares making the routine of everyday life extremely precarious.
Although the predominantly Christian south isn’t subject to the same levels of traditional terrorism compared to the north, south-dwelling Nigerians suffer a different form of domestic tyranny. Baptist minister Helen Ukpabio stands at the helm of a particularly brutal Protestant movement in which the various socioeconomic ills which plague the Nigerian people can all be attributed to witches – witches which take control of the bodies of children. In response, Ukpabio’s followers have been known, not only to ostracize their neighbor’s children but even their own en mass. These children have, in some cases, been beaten by mobs, had acid splashed on their faces, nails driven into their skulls, and even been burnt or buried alive.
While Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator, he was useful in that he managed to keep what is an otherwise ungovernable region of the world unified. Most countries have some sense of national unity based on shared ethnic origin, religion and language – and government support for this joined identity. Others, most notably the United States, lack all of this but share a common ideology, even if only vaguely.
Iraq, however, is comprised of a collection of ethnic groups and religious denominations which are openly hostile to one another. For example, Shia Arabs despise Sunni Arabs, and Sunni Arabs hate the Shia Arabs, and both hate the Kurds as well as Iraqi Christians. These very pronounced religious-ethnic distinctions have divided the country into three major factions which have been at war with each other continuously since the end of the United States’ initial invasion of Iraq. This, in combination with the violence of the Iraq war itself, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and displaced millions more.
Afghanistan has an odd history as being both a magnet and graveyard for the empires of the world. Most recently, the bankruptcy and collapse of the Soviet Union was caused, in part, by the Union being bogged down in Afghanistan throughout the eighties. During this period the US-back, anti-Russian, Islamist group, the Mujahideen “freedom fighters”, who resisted Soviet incursion while myriad other factions violently rebelled against both the Soviets and Afghani government.
Since then, the Soviets eventually pulled out and the Mujahideen has morphed into the Taliban, an anti-government, anti-American Islamist group. Much like Iraq, Afghanistan is a collection of tribes which do not identify each other as members of the same nation. Consequently, the government is fighting a losing campaign both militarily and culturally to keep the country unified.
6. North Korea
Yeah, it was kind of obvious that North Korea was going to be on this list, then again, so were several prior examples. Still, it’s worth noting precisely just how horrifying living in the northern Hermit Kingdom is. Exemplifying the epitome of a police state, the people of North Korea are constantly surveyed and managed by the government. Of course, the State manages quite literally everything else from education, to food production, to the media.
If anyone commits a crime against the State, they are violently apprehended, sentenced without due process, and either executed or sent to a labor camp. On top of that, this person’s immediate family is also detained and sentenced to life imprisonment in a labor camp – as well as the next two generations born to said family.
5. The Central African Republic
Historically prone to violence, the Central African Republic has once again erupted into a new civil war based on religious and political ties. The primary factions are the Christian militia referred to as anti-Balaka and the Muslim Seleka rebel alliance; the latter group which overthrew then-leader General Francois Bozize three years ago. This ousting prompted retaliatory violence from anti-Balaka, and the country’s been oscillating between bouts of reactionary violence ever since.
The violence has been so horrific that this year the United Nations has deployed 12,350 soldiers to aid the local government’s peacekeeping efforts. Unfortunately, this additional support may not significantly stem the turbulence as the conflict is spreading to formerly peaceful regions of the country. In fact, some experts are concerned that levels of violence will reach those seen during the height of the previous conflict circa 2014.
Embroiled in civil war since 2011, Syria is no longer a country but now rather a collection of militant tribes fighting over a collection of a few crumbling buildings which haven’t yet been reduced to rumble, along with huddled masses of unarmed civilians sheltering among smoldering ruins. The civil war has pitted dictatorial President Bashir al-Assad against a diffuse group of opposition fighters attempting to overthrow the government and instead place some variant on a sharia-style caliphate. Though there used to be more, the bulk of the rebel forces are comprised of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as well as an arm of Al Qaeda known as Al Nusra.
Although President Bashir al-Assad has been twice accused of using chemical weapons against his own people, a 2013 UN report has suggested that, with respect to the first chemical attack, elements of the rebel forces are most likely the party which used said weapons. This oppression and discord has inspired the mass migration of millions of refugees from Syria to other regions of the Near East, North America, and, most substantially, central and western Europe.
Both government controls and a lack of natural resources has made Yemen one of the poorest countries in the world. Being controlled by a Sunni government the rights of Shia and non-Muslims are not equitably respected and even actively oppressed. What’s worst, Yemen has recently erupted in a civil war with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against the nation’s pro-Sunni government.
The civil war has drawn in action by Saudi Arabia’s military which, with arms and intelligence provided by the United States, has carpet bombed targets such as schools and hospitals, deployed chemical weapons against civilians, and even blockaded the entire country. This blockade has cut off 80% of Yemen’s access to food and, as a result, almost seven million Yemenis are starving to death. This is possibly the largest mass starvation event in the last half century.
2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Our list ends with a country most people wouldn’t have expected, and probably hadn’t even heard of. Part of this may be due to the fact that what’s now referred to as the Democratic Republic of the Congo has also been referred to as the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Zaire, depending on who’s in power.
Where you to live in most of the countries on this list you are not likely to be harassed, murdered, mutilated, abducted, in broad daylight or with a party of armed guards. In the DRC, however, all of those things are a real possibility. An unstable government, economic controls, remnant militant groups, ethnic strife, and rampant poverty are the primary causes for these horrifying social circumstances.
Although the most stable of all the countries on our list, Kenya has seen a disturbing rise in terrorist activity. Al-Shabaab, a Somalian Islamist terrorist organization, has for years attempted to overthrow the existing government by conducting terror attacks in public places, with the use of grenades, firearms, and knives being the most common methods of murder. In addition to this, the Kenyan-Somali border has become a hot spot for kidnappings of Kenyans by Somali militants.
Besides Somalia terrorists, natives are prone to suffer crimes committed by their own countrymen, including auto theft, general robbery, and armed assault in major metropolitan areas.
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