Andrew Parker

22 Countries Deemed Too Risky for American Citizens to Visit

Who doesn’t love traveling? That feeling of freedom as you travel the world is infectious, and it’s better for you than you might think. But before you start packing your bags, you might want to think about where you’re going first. Some places out there are a huge red flag for Americans, and we’ve got a list of 25 of them for you. The only thing you should be dropping here is the idea of visiting.

Afghanistan

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Sure, Afghanistan’s got some gorgeous views, but it comes with some serious danger. The country has been in the middle of conflict for many years, and visitors are at risk, too. There are genuine threats of terrorism and kidnapping, which could make this a holiday to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Syria

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Syria has always been a country rich with historical stories. Unfortunately, the only tales it’s telling now are warnings. The ongoing war has transformed its historical landmarks into complete no-go zones, and it’s destroyed any sense of beauty this place once had. If you’re looking for history, stick to your local museum.

Yemen

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Yemen’s dealing with a ton of serious problems right now, with the biggest one being its civil war. This conflict has caused a massive humanitarian crisis, which has led to disease and famine. Violence is way too common for the people, and the US Department of State has advised against all travel there.

Mali

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Like several of these countries on this list, Mali is also dealing with armed conflict and political problems. In the north and central areas, the issues are particularly bad because of the terrorist groups. But this doesn’t mean that the other areas are safe because kidnapping and armed robbery are sadly too much of a risk for Americans.

Central African Republic

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In the Central African Republic (CAR), militia groups are in charge, and they’ve got control over huge areas. Unfortunately, the government is finding it difficult to keep order, which means the risks of kidnapping and violence are pretty high. Unless you’ve got a major death wish, we recommend avoiding the CAR at all costs.

North Korea 

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North Korea’s probably the most famous no-fly zone on this list and for a good reason. Here, the rules are super strict, especially for Americans, and if you step out of line, you could be in some serious trouble. And forget about the US government pulling you out of jail because they’ve got very limited power in North Korea.

Iraq

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There’s no denying that Iraq has a fascinating history and so many cultural treasures, but it’s also got its fair share of issues. Terrorism and kidnappings are, unfortunately, a part of daily life here, and the risk for Americans is pretty high. If you’re determined to visit, you should probably wait until things have cooled down a bit.

Somalia

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Somalia is almost like a country with no rules, as there’s no stable government to keep things in check. It’s got a major piracy problem, which, according to CNBC, is getting worse, along with terrorist attacks and armed robbery. It’s not exactly the chill vacation vibe you’re looking for, and even the US government is warning against people traveling there.

Libya

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Thinking about a Libyan adventure? Think again. Since the 2011 revolution, Libya has been in a complete state of chaos. There’s a pretty high chance you might be kidnapped or hurt by terrorist attacks if you visit. Even the security situation isn’t that great, and the Organized Crime Index has put it at #5 of most criminal countries in Africa.

South Sudan

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South Sudan might be the world’s youngest country, but it’s got issues like any other old nation. The deadly mix of ethnic tensions and violence means that any visitor has a real risk of getting caught up in the violence. Some people want to visit to show their support, but we think you should give that help from home.

Sudan

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Similarly, Sudan has amazing stories that have lasted for millennia. Unfortunately, today’s headlines are a bit tougher because of the country’s huge challenges. Simple issues can lead to street protests and unrest that’ll make any holiday into a nightmare. Although the country’s got a lot to offer, it’s probably better to admire from a distance.

Haiti

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If there’s one thing we know about Haitians, it’s that they’re pretty unbreakable, even after the devastating 2010 earthquake. But that doesn’t mean it’s free of issues. Safety is a major problem because political issues often boil over into deadly demonstrations in the streets. The risk of kidnapping is just the tip of the iceberg.

Pakistan

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Pakistan is a unique mix of amazing natural wonders and ancient traditions, but there’s a little more under the surface. Some areas are a little too patchy and they’ve got some security problems that’ll probably make you think twice. You’re better off sticking to your local markets than visiting here. 

Nigeria 

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Nigeria is a place where adventure is just waiting to happen, for better or for worse. You’ll need a little caution if you’re thinking of coming here because piracy and unexpected detours are serious issues. If you’re determined to visit, do your research and find out which places to stick to.

Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso isn’t a place on most people’s travel itineraries, which is a real shame. After all, the people are warm-hearted, and there’s a lot of culture to explore. Recently, though, there’s been a major increase in security problems that you can’t just ignore. It’s a hidden gem in West Africa, and perhaps it should stay that way for a little longer.

Venezuela

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Ah, Venezuela. It’s got some jaw-dropping views and beautiful coastlines that are sure to make you fall in love. Sadly, the nation’s huge economic issues have caused major problems throughout. Statista claims the country’s inflation rate is at about 200%, meaning you’ll need a backpack of cash just to buy a coffee. No wonder crime is so common.

Philippines

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Endless beaches and crystal-clear waters sound like the perfect place to visit, right? Well, that’s the Philippines for most people. But some corners of this paradise, like Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, are dealing with natural and man-made problems. These areas have some of the highest crime rates in the country, so you should probably stay away.

Ukraine

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In Ukraine, you can go from cobblestone streets to the countryside in a heartbeat. Sadly, the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war has drawn a line in the sand that makes things a little less appealing. The biggest problems are in the East and Crimea, although we recommend avoiding the nation as a whole right now.

Colombia

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Colombia has completely rewritten its story and blossomed into a great travel destination for anyone looking to experience a rich culture. Yet this tale has its fair share of twists, especially in the more remote areas where things aren’t so great. We’re not saying you should avoid this beautiful country completely, but you should stick to the beaten path.

El Salvador

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Looking for some mouthwatering food and epic surf spots? Maybe El Salvador’s the spot for you. But before you start packing your bags, you might want to look up the nation’s reputation for high crime and gang violence. While the government’s trying to improve things, it’s probably best to catch some waves elsewhere for now.

Myanmar

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Traveling to Myanmar feels like stepping back in time, and that includes the country’s approach to democracy. Political unrest and military actions have made some areas completely unsafe for tourists. Then there are the internet and communication restrictions, which make calling for help even harder.

Bangladesh

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It’s not somewhere on everyone’s bucket list, but Bangladesh does have some charm, like the Sundarbans mangrove forest. But natural disasters like cyclones and flooding are just as common here, along with political demonstrations. Bangladesh has a lot to offer, but it’s perhaps a bit more of a challenge than a lot of us are looking for.

Lebanon

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Between the economic problems and violent street protests, life in Lebanon is quite unpredictable. Yes, it’s got some stunning Roman ruins and incredible food, but that doesn’t take away from its problems. You can visit if you want, although we think you should hang tight until the air clears up.

Eritrea

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Hidden away in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea has plenty of secret beach spots that are sure to take your breath away. And in the capital city of Asmara, the people have charms in spades. Unfortunately, this comes with a catch because you’ve got to get permission to travel around. There are strict rules on where you can go, which can make things feel a little worthless.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The DRC is a nature lover’s paradise, with its huge jungles and an impressive number of wild animals. But beneath the green canopy, there’s a storm brewing. We’re not just talking about conflict here, although that’s pretty serious. No, there are major health problems like malaria and tuberculosis that’ll put a damper on any travel plans.

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