World's most violent cities
By Tann vom Hove; Resear
ch supplied by CCSP*

ON THIS PAGE: World’s most violent cities are in Latin America, South Africa and the USA ||| Table: The 50 most violent cities in the world |||


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World's most dangerous cities
Mass shootings in the US
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Mayors with exceptional courage, compassion and competence sought for the 2016 World Mayor Prize
The 2016 World Mayor Prize and Commendations will be awarded to mayors who have accepted and successfully managed the challenges posed by migration but are also convinced of its longterm benefits. They will be leading a city where past and/or more recent immigrants have contributed to the city’s society, economy and culture. The City Mayors Foundation will also consider mayors for the honours whose communities has shown exceptional resilience during the recent arrivals from disaster-torn regions of the world.

If you are convinced, like us, that the world’s cities have greatly benefited from immigrants, whose perseverance in the face of hardship and often prejudice has created the civic societies that we value and enjoy today, we invite you to nominate a mayor for the 2016 World Mayor Prize.

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World’s most violent cities
are in Latin America,
South Africa and the USA

13 May 2016: Latin America's cities are the most dangerous in the world. Drug trafficking, gang wars, political instability, corruption, and poverty are the main causes of the continent’s extreme urban violence. Residents of cities in Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are particularly at risk of being caught up in battles between warring gangs. Outside Latin America, US cities like St Louis and Baltimore as well as the South African cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg have also witnessed an increased number of homicides.

With almost 4,000 murders in 2015, the Venezuelan capital Caracas is the most violent city in the world. San Pedro Sula (Honduras), which occupied the top spot in 2014, drops one place, while San Salvador (El Salvador) moves up from 27th to 3rd place. Overall, out of the 50 most violent cities in the world, 41 are located in Latin America. Four (St Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans) are from the US. The South African cities of Cape Town, Durban, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg complete the top 50.

Violent deaths in Venezuela may actually be considerably higher. Extrajudicial killings by the police and indeed any deaths involving police shootouts are not included in the government's homicide count for 2016, which also excludes deaths of unknown intent. The NGOs Venezuelan Violence Observatory and Human Rights Watch allege that attempts by the police to break down powerful gangs have led to extrajudicial killings and a steady stream of complaints about human rights abuses. Analysts from Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights also suggest that criminal gangs may have become more organised and ruthless in the face of repressing policing.

While violence in Venezuela’s urban areas has increased considerably in recent years, some Latin American cities have been able to reduce violent crime. Belo Horizonte (Brazil); Medellin and Cucuta (Colombia); Chihuahua, Cuernavaca, Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Torreon (Mexico) are no longer among the 50 most violent cities in the world. The success of Juarez on the US-Mexican border is particularly remarkable. Featured in the documentary ‘8 Murders a Day’, the city, which between 2008 and 2010 became infamous as the murder capital of the world and whose annual murder rate per 100,000 residents regularly surpassed 220, is now considered a relatively safe city which is attracting increasing numbers of tourists.

The 50 most violent
cities in the world

Rank (2014 rankings in brackets)
City
Country
No of homicides
City population
Murder rate (HTIs*)
1 (2)
Caracas Venezuela
3,946
3,292,000
120
2 (1)
San Pedro Sula Honduras
885
797,000
111
3 (27)
San Salvador El Salvador
1,918
1,767,000
109
4 (3)
Acapulco Mexico
903
862,000
105
5 (-)
Maturín Venezuela
505
584,000
86
6 (6)
Distrito Central Honduras
882
1,200,000
74
7 (50)
Valencia Venezuela
1,125
1,556,000
72
8 (11)
Palmira Colombia
216
305,000
71
9 (20)
Cape Town South Africa
2,451
3,740,000
66
10 (4)
Cali Colombia
1,523
2,370,000
64
11 (17)
Ciudad Guayana Venezuela
547
878,000
62
12 (7)
Fortaleza Brazil
2,422
3,985,000
61
13 (12)
Natal Brazil
921
1,518,000
61
14 (13)
Salvador Brazil
1,996
3,292,000
61
15 (45)
St Louis USA
188
317,000
59
16 (9)
João Pessoa Brazil
643
1,101,000
58
17 (16)
Culiacán Mexico
518
924,000
56
18 (5)
Maceió Brazil
564
1,014,000
56
19 (36)
Baltimore USA
343
624,000
55
20 (10)
Barquisimeto Venezuela
719
1,308,000
55
21 (15)
São Luís Brazil
802
1,512,000
53
22 (29)
Cuiabá Brazil
412
849,000
49
23 (31)
Manaus Brazil
985
2,058,000
48
24 (-)
Cumaná Venezuela
199
417,000
48
25 (8)
Guatemala City Guatemala
1,528
3,239,000
47
26 (23)
Belém Brazil
1,101
2,402,000
46
27 (-)
Feira de Santana Brazil
281
618,000
45
28 (24)
Detroit USA
295
672,000
44
29 (-)
Aparecida (Goiânia) Brazil
847
1,953,000
43
30 (-)
Teresina Brazil
360
844,000
41
31 (14)
Vitoria Brazil
802
1,910,000
42
32 (26)
New Orleans USA
164
395,710
41
33 (19)
Kingston Jamaica
492
1,196,000
41
34 (-)
Gran Barcelona Venezuela
334
833,000
40
35 (47)
Tijuana Mexico
668
1,709,000
39
36 (14)
Vitória da Conquista Brazil
132
343,000
38
37 (39)
Recife Brazil
1,492
3,914,000
38
38 (46)
Aracaju Brazil
349
926,000
38
39 (-)
Campos dos Goytacazes Brazil
175
484,000
36
40 (25)
Campina Grande Brazil
146
405,000
36
41 (48)
Durban South Africa
1,237
3,442,000
36
42 (41)
Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa
413
1,152,000
36
43 (-)
Porto Alegre Brazil
1,479
4,259,000
35
44 (-)
Curitiba Brazil
1,121
3,230,000
35
45 (34)
Pereira Colombia
153
470,000
33
46 (22)
Victoria Mexico
107
351,000
31
47 (-)
Johannesburg South Africa
1,344
4,435,000
30
48 (40)
Macapá Brazil
138
456,000
30
49 (42)
Maracaibo Venezuela
477
1,653,000
29
50 (-)
Obregón Mexico
90
318,000
28

*The Mexican NGO Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Publica y la Justicia (CCSP) researches murder rates in the world. The rate of murder (homicidio doloso) is expressed as a figure per 100,000 inhabitants (of a city or country) in a year (abbreviated here as HTI): i.e. 50/100,000 or 50/HTI.