Wondering where it’s safe to visit in Africa? Take a look at the 10 most dangerous countries in Africa to know the risks and get ideas for safer African countries to visit.
What Are the Most Dangerous Countries in Africa?
The vast, diverse landscape of Africa is filled with bustling cities and rural towns, historic landmarks and architectural wonders, fascinating cultural customs, and delicious regional cuisine.
No wonder Africa is on the bucket list of world travelers everywhere! Since safety is always a top priority, it’s important to know the most dangerous countries in Africa so you can plan accordingly.
While many countries and regions of the African continent are perfectly safe and welcoming for travelers, there are some that are considered unsafe or genuinely dangerous to visit.
The 10 most dangerous countries in Africa right now are:
- South Sudan
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Central African Republic
- Burkina Faso
So what makes these the most dangerous countries on the continent?
Data from the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI) along with current government travel advisories and current conflict developments helped us determine the most dangerous African countries in 2023.
The Global Peace Index ranks 163 countries worldwide in terms of overall peace, safety, and stability. The African countries closest to the bottom of the index are considered the most dangerous.
Current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is another factor in listing the most dangerous countries in Africa.
Nearly all of the African countries on the list of the most dangerous currently have a level 4 travel advisory warning “Do not travel.” Three countries on the list are under a level 3 travel advisory warning “Reconsider travel.”
With recent conflict intensifying in countries like Sudan increasing the risk of traveling, these developments are also considered in the list of the most dangerous African countries.
Take a look at the most dangerous countries on the African continent below to learn more about the safety risks of visiting each one.
The 10 Most Dangerous Countries in Africa
Knowing which countries are dangerous for travelers and who’s at risk when visiting is an essential bit of research for any would-be visitor to do.
Here are the 10 most dangerous countries in Africa and factors that may put travelers and locals at risk in each one.
1. South Sudan
South Sudan is currently ranked as the most dangerous country in Africa with a level 4 “Do not travel” advisory, the highest crime rate on the continent, and other indicators that put locals and travelers at risk.
Political instability, terrorism, internal conflict, violent crime, and poor relations with neighboring countries make South Sudan the most dangerous country in Africa and very unsafe to visit at this time.
South Sudan was part of Sudan until 2011, when civil war led to a split. Today, conflict continues within the developing country (one of the poorest in the world) and millions of its citizens are displaced.
The most dangerous areas in South Sudan include:
- The entire country, including the capital Juba
- Border areas
- Public gatherings and demonstrations
Out of all the nations in the world, South Sudan ranks 159 out of 163 on the Global Peace Index with a composite score of 3.18 (consider Russia’s score of 3.27 for comparison).
2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second most dangerous country in Africa with very high crime rates and risk levels for travelers and citizens alike.
Located in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) deals with many of the same issues plaguing South Sudan and the other most dangerous countries in Africa.
Violence and homicide, terrorism, human rights abuses, kidnapping, and internal armed conflict make the DRC unsafe for travelers. These conditions have led to a level 3 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State, warning “Reconsider travel.”
The most dangerous areas in the DRC should be avoided and include:
- North Kivu
- Eastern region and Kasai provinces
With a Global Peace Index ranking of 158 out of 163 and a composite score of 3.17, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is only ranked slightly higher than South Sudan and still very unsafe to visit.
Located in the Horn of Africa along the coast, Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in Africa right now with high levels of crime and violence affecting citizens and travelers.
Somalia is currently under a level 4 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State, citing crime, terrorism, piracy, civil unrest, and health risks in the country.
Violent crime and terrorist acts are among the biggest problems in Somalia right now, leading to an increase in homicides and bombings, kidnapping, mortar attacks, and more in the country.
The most dangerous areas include:
- The entire country, including Puntland and Somaliland
- Buildings like airports, seaports, and government offices
- International waters off the coast due to piracy
Somalia is ranked as #156 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index with a composite GPI score of 3.13.
That’s only a moderate improvement over South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, making it a very unsafe place to visit right now.
4. Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is the 4th most dangerous country in Africa currently due to high violent crime rates and limited U.S. Embassy support for American citizens in the country.
While the Central African Republic hasn’t been a particularly unsafe place for Americans in terms of targeted violence and terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and violent crime is common here.
On the Global Peace Index, the Central African Republic is ranked number 155 out of 163 countries with a GPI composite score of 3.02. This indicates the country is dangerous and not safe to visit.
Some of the most dangerous areas of the country include:
- The entire country, including the capital Bangui
- Airports, land borders, and roads during civil unrest
- Areas controlled by armed groups
Without a limited ability to provide support or assistance for U.S. citizens through the embassy in the capital Bangui, a level 4 travel advisory has been issued for the Central African Republic and Americans are warned not to travel here.
Sudan is currently ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in Africa and conditions there are quickly worsening as armed internal conflict grows and violence increases.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a level 4 travel advisory for Sudan as internal conflict intensifies. U.S. Embassy staff and family members were recently airlifted from Khartoum due to the armed conflict and increased risk.
The current travel warning advises “Do not travel” due to the unsafe conditions here, so visiting Sudan should be avoided at this time.
Right now, these are the most dangerous areas of the country:
- The entire country, including the capital Khartoum
- Border regions, especially near Chad and South Sudan
- Central Darfur
- Blue Nile region
- South Kordofan region
On the 2022 Global Peace Index, Sudan is ranked number 154 out of 163 countries with a composite GPI score of 3.00. This rating precedes the current conflict, so its position is expected to drop on the index.
Libya is one of the least safe countries in Africa and dangerous to visit right now due to an increase in armed conflict, violent crime, terrorist acts, and civil unrest across the country.
A level 4 travel advisory has been issued for Libya (“do not travel”) by the U.S. Department of State for these reasons and the increased safety risk travelers experience when visiting.
Kidnapping for ransom is common here, with Westerners often targeted for these crimes. Extremist groups may specifically target Americans and large groups of people.
Militias and armed groups control much of the country and often detain travelers without reason. The U.S. is not currently allowing commercial flights within Libyan airspace.
The most dangerous areas in Libya include:
- The entire country, including the capital Tripoli
- Hotels, airports frequented by Westerners
Libya ranks as number 151 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index with a composite GPI score of 2.93, according to data from 2022.
Mali is ranked as the 7th most dangerous country in Africa right now with high crime rates and a level 4 “Do not travel” advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State.
Violent crime, including homicide, terrorism, and kidnapping are the main safety risks in Mali currently. Seasonal events, festivals, and holidays tend to see a rise in violence in the capital, Bamako.
Kidnapping, unlawful detention, assault, and terrorist attacks by armed groups on areas that Westerners frequent in the country are also of concern.
U.S. government employees are prohibited from leaving the capital, so assistance is limited for Americans in the country. This is another reason to avoid traveling to Mali right now.
The most dangerous areas of Mali include:
- The capital Bamako
- Suburbs of Bamako
- Southern region
- Border areas
Mali is ranked number 150 out of 163 countries in the world with a GPI composite score of 2.91, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Ethiopia is considered one of the most dangerous countries in Africa, but there are some regions of the country that are much more dangerous than others.
Conflict, terrorism and kidnapping at the borders, civil unrest, and increased levels of violent crime are a problem in certain areas of the country and make it unsafe to visit.
There’s currently a level 3 travel advisory issued for Ethiopia by the U.S. Department of State: “Reconsider travel.” This advisory means it’s best to avoid visiting the country while conditions are unsafe.
The most dangerous areas in Ethiopia include:
- Borders with Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, and Eritrea
- Tigray region
- Amhara-Tigray and Afar-Tigray borders
- Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz regions
- Oromia region
- Southern Nations and National People (SNNP) region
The Global Peace Index ranks Ethiopia number 149 out of 163 countries across the globe with a composite GPI score of 2.80. Overall, Ethiopia should be avoided by travelers for the time being.
9. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is one of the most dangerous countries in Africa because of the increased levels of crime, kidnapping, and terrorism that occurs within its borders.
Burkina Faso shares a border with Mali and Niger, which are also on the list of the 10 most dangerous countries in Africa. The U.S. Department of State has issued a level 4 travel advisory for the country, warning “Do not travel.”
Kidnapping for ransom is common here, with terrorist attacks occurring at seemingly random places and times without warning.
Some of the most dangerous areas where attacks and kidnapping occur in Burkina Faso include:
- The entire Sahel and East regions
- Kossi and Sourou provinces
- Kenegougou province
- Loroum province
- Koulpelogo province
Burkina Faso is ranked number 146 out of 163 countries in the world with a composite GPI score of 2.78, showing that it’s a dangerous place to visit with a high risk level.
Violent and maritime crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and civil unrest make Nigeria one of the 10 most dangerous African countries right now.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a level 3 travel advisory for Nigeria due to the increased crime and safety risk within its borders.
Westerners and citizens returning to the country after traveling are often targeted, as are individuals with the appearance of wealth (especially in kidnapping for ransom).
While large areas of Nigeria are considered unsafe to visit, there’s a reason this country is at a level 3 travel advisory instead of level 4. Some areas are safer than others.
The most dangerous areas in Nigeria include:
- Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, and Zamfara states
- Borno, Kogi, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states
- Coastal areas like Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, and Rivers
Overall, Nigeria is ranked as number 143 out of 163 countries worldwide in the Global Peace Index from 2022 with a composite GPI score of 2.72.
Things to Consider
What else should you know about the most dangerous countries in Africa and potential risks involved with visiting these areas? Here are some helpful travel tips to consider.
- Always check travel advisories first. Don’t plan a trip to Africa without checking for current travel advisories that may have been issued for the country or countries you plan to visit. Civil unrest and conflict situations can change daily, warranting new advisories and increased levels of risk that should be considered.
- Use your best judgement. If you’re considering traveling to any of the most dangerous countries in Africa, avoid all countries with a level 4 travel advisory and use your best judgement if you plan to visit any with a level 3 travel advisory. This includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. All are considered unsafe to visit right now, but some regions may be less risky than others.
- Monitor news and local media. Travel advisories are usually updated as soon as related breaking news is released for an area. But to be sure you’re aware of what’s happening in an African country you plan to visit, always check out local media online if you can and monitor international news.
- Consider wildlife dangers. Our list of the most dangerous African countries doesn’t take wildlife-related safety risks into account. Africa is home to lots of dangerous wildlife, including large or aggressive animals and venomous reptiles and insects. Research the area you’re planning to visit and learn about potential wildlife dangers before going.
- Take care of your health. Health-related safety risks should also be considered before traveling to Africa. Check out a complete list of the vaccines needed to travel to Africa while you plan your trip so you can protect yourself from disease and illness while you’re traveling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read through the most frequently asked questions on dangerous African countries to learn more before you start making any travel plans.
What should I avoid in Africa?
You should avoid visiting the most dangerous countries in Africa, approaching wildlife, drinking tap water, ostentatious displays of wealth, and traveling alone.
Use the list of the most dangerous countries in Africa above to narrow your list of possible destinations down - there are many safe countries here you can visit instead.
What is the number 1 safest country in Africa?
Mauritius is the #1 safest country in Africa, with Ghana and Gambia in second and third place. Botswana and Sierra Leone finish up the list of the top 5 safest countries in Africa and all can be great places to visit.
Which country in Africa has the most crime?
South Sudan is ranked as the most dangerous country in Africa with the highest crime rate in the 2022 Global Peace Index. Violent crime is common here, with homicide, assault, kidnapping, carjacking, and armed robbery occurring at a high rate.
Which countries are more dangerous in Africa?
The 10 most dangerous countries in Africa are considered less safe than other countries on the continent. They include the following:
South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.
What are the top 3 most dangerous countries?
The 3 most dangerous countries in Africa are South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.
Each of these countries is in the bottom 8 of the Global Peace Index with high crime rates, ongoing conflicts, and risk of terrorism.
So, What Are the Most Dangerous Countries in Africa?
The most dangerous countries in Africa deserve your attention because you’d be at serious risk visiting any of them. Right now, each country on this list is best avoided.
South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria may have lots to offer, but they’re not safe for travelers right now.
Instead, look at the safe countries in Africa for your visit. Countries like Mauritius, Ghana, Gambia, Botswana, and Sierra Leone are considered the safest on the continent and much better suited for a visit.
A little excitement is always great for your travels, but severe safety risks are not. Keep the most dangerous countries in Africa in mind so you can plan a secure, safe trip that you can relax and enjoy!