The safest and most dangerous countries in the world – and where South Africa ranks

 ·3 Feb 2023

A recent ranking of the safest countries in the world in 2023 lists South Africa as one of the most dangerous – measured by a country’s murder statistics.

Research platform Wisevoter compared 192 countries based on a country’s deaths by stabbing, gunshot, and the overall homicide rate per 100,000 people using the latest data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and The Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease.

Regarding safety and security, certain countries stand out from the rest. The most secure countries in the world are generally those with strong economies, robust infrastructures, and low crime rates.

Low crime rates in a country often correspond with strict gun control laws, effective law enforcement and a high standard of public healthcare – much like Japan, said Wisevoter.

Switzerland is another top contender for the title of the safest nation in the world due to its consistent commitment to neutrality and peacekeeping efforts. At the same time, Norway is known for its sophisticated emergency medical services and a general culture of respect for human rights, said Wisevoter.

According to the ranking, the safest country in the world is Singapore, with just 0.44 homicides per 100,000 people. Monaco follows this closely, with a homicide rate of 0.46, making it the second safest country in the world.

San Marino comes in third place with 0.5 homicides per 100,000 people, and the United Kingdom follows close behind as the fourth safest country, at 0.51 homicides per 100,000, said Wisevoter.

Egypt has a slightly higher rate of 0.52 homicides per 100,000, while Japan has a rate of 0.56, making them the fifth and sixth safest countries in the world, respectively.

The last of the top 10 comprises Andorra in seventh, Norway, Switzerland, and finally, Ireland in tenth.

# Country Homicide rate (per 100k) Death by stabbing (per 100k) Death by gunshot (per 100k)
1 Singapore 0.44 0.12 0.01
2 Monaco 0.46 0.08 0.09
3 San Marino 0.5 0.12 0.08
4 United Kingdom 0.51 0.08 0.04
5 Egypt 0.52 0.09 0.38
6 Japan 0.56 0.09 0.02
7 Andorra 0.57 0.12 0.08
8 Norway 0.61 0.25 0.07
9 Switzerland 0.62 0.16 0.18
10 Ireland 0.64 0.16 0.18
183 Haiti 28.4 7.1 9.8
184 The Bahamas 29.4 5.1 19.7
185 Brazil 30.4 4.6 20.8
186 Honduras 33.8 6.7 21.2
187 South Africa 34.4 17.0 4.9
188 Guatemala 35.4 3.1 28.2
189 Colombia 35.7 6.6 24.8
190 Lesotho 36.0 16.4 5.3
191 Venezuela 39.0 2.2 32.8
192 El Salvador 48.7 5.7 35.5

*The Homicide rate, death by stabbing, and deaths by gunshot represent the annual rates per 100,000 people.

Most dangerous – including South Africa

Unlike the top-ranked countries, high unemployment, inequality, corruption, and a lack of policing foster several types of crime in a country – including homicides.

According to the platform’s ranking, South Africa sits in 187th place out of 192 countries – making it the 6th most dangerous country in the world.

South Africa recorded a murder rate of 34.4 homicides per 100,000, which included 16.95 deaths by stabbing and 4.87 by gunshot per 100,000 people.

This ranks South Africa more dangerous than Iraq (161), Somalia (164), Russia (169), and Mexico (180), to name a few.

The data covered by report is based on statistical and published data between 2019 and 2021.

More recent data from the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) crime statistics presented in November 2022, shows that aggression and violence have escalated in South Africa and are now at worrying levels.

Crime levels across the country were up between July and September 2022, with increases for most in the double digits.

In Q3 2022 alone (July to September 2022), Robbery with aggravating circumstances showed a year-on-year increase of 22% and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm increased by 15.8%.

What’s more concerning is that the number of murders showed a year-on-year increase of 13.6%, while attempted murder increased by 19.4%.

The countries that managed to outrank South Africa’s poor ranking included El Salvador, Venezuela, Lesotho, Colombia, and Guatemala.

El Salvador ranked as the most dangerous country in last place (192nd) – posting a homicide rate of 48.71 and deaths by gunshot at 35.5 per 100,000 people annually.

Venezuela ranks in second last place (191) with a homicide rate of 38.99 per 100,000, with death by gunshot accounting for 32.75.

South African neighbour Lesotho is the 3rd most dangerous country, followed by Colombia and Guatemala – with homicide rates of 35.95, 35.71, and 35.4, respectively.

Read: Thousands of South Africans are losing their citizenship – some without even realising it

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter