A favela, Portuguese for slum, is a low-income historically informal urban area in Brazil. The first favela, presently known as Providência in the center of Rio de Janeiro, appeared in the late 19th century, built by soldiers who had nowhere to live following the Canudos War.

For the past fifteen years, global headlines have depicted, through harrowing imagery, the effects of war on cities across the Middle East. An inevitable fracturing of law and order leads to an explosion of crime which we imagine could not be tolerated in a region at peace.

However, when cities in war zones are set aside, an overwhelming yet underreported narrative emerges – 86% of the world’s most dangerous cities are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

When measured by homicide rate, 14 of the 20 most dangerous countries in the world are located in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Although it accounts for only 8% of the world’s population, one in three global homicides occur in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Homicide Observatory at the Igarapé Institute in Brazil warns that fourteen of the twenty countries with the highest homicide rates are in Latin America, while the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP) in Mexico reports that 43 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world are located in the region.

With the absence of war, cities in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from a different plight. Writing for the World Economic Forum, Robert Muggah of the Igarapé Institute notes that Latin American cities are “the most unequal on the planet”, with almost one in five people living in slums.

While an elite benefit from expanding economies, millions are left without potable water (15% in the Dominican Republic), electricity (18% in Nicaragua) and sewerage (39% in Bolivia).

In the annual report of the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP), the most dangerous cities in the world are:

50. Durban, South Africa (34.43 homicides for every 100,000 citizens)

49. Curitiba, Brazil (34.92)

48. Cúcuta, Colombia (37)

47. Vitoria, Brazil (37.54)

46. Manaus, Brazil (38.25)

45. Macapa, Brazil (30.25)

44. Armenia, Colombia (38.54)

43. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa (39.19)

42. Goiânia and Aparecida de Goiânia, Brazil (39.48)

41. Ciudad Obregón, México (40.95)

40. Chihuahua, México (42.02)

39. Cuiaba, Brazil (42.61)

38. Teresina, Brazil (42.84)

37. Ciudad Juárez, México (43.63)

36. Detroit, United States (44.60)

35. Fortaleza, Brazil (44.98)

34. New Orleans, United States (45.17)

33. São Luís, Brazil (45.41)

32. Kingston, Jamaica (45.43)

31. Palmira, Colombia (46.30)

30. Gran Barcelona, Venezuela (46.86)

29. João Pessoa, Brazil (47.57)

28. Recife, Brazil (47.89)

27. Mazatlán, México (48.75)

26. Baltimore, United States (51.14)

25. Maceio, Brazil (51.78)

24. Culiacán, México (51.81)

23. Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala (52.73)

22. Tijuana, México (53.06)

21. Cali, Colombia (54)

20. Salvador, Brazil (54.71)

19. Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil (56.45)

18. Cumaná, Venezuela (59.31)

17. Barquisimeto, Venezuela (59.38)

16. Vitória da Conquista, Brazil (60.10)

15. Feira de Santana, Brazil (60.23)

14. St. Louis, United States (60.37)

13. Cape Town, South Africa (60.77)

12. Aracaju, Brazil (62.76)

11. Belém, Brazil  (67.41)

10. Natal, Brazil (69.56)

9. Valencia, Venezuela (72.02)

8. Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela (82.84)

7. San Salvador, El Salvador (83.39)

6. Maturín, Venezuela (84.21)

5. Ciudad Victoria, México (84.67)

4. Distrito Central, Honduras (85.09)

3. San Pedro Sula, Honduras (112.09)

2. Acapulco, México (113.24)

1. Caracas, Venezuela (130.35)


Download the full CCSPJP report here.

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