The 20 Most Homicidal Countries In The World

Mexico drug violenceEduardo Verdugo/ReutersA man holds an assault rifle in Mexico.

The United Nations and the World Health Organisation have released their 2014 Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, which paints a bleak and detailed picture of murder and violence around the world.

Worldwide in 2012, there were 475,000 murder victims, 60% of whom were males between 15 and 44 years old. Half of all homicide victims are killed by a firearm, and Latin America is the world’s most murderous region.

The global homicide rate for 2012 stood at 6.7 per 100,000 inhabitants — slightly lower than the 2011 rate of 6.9.

18. Panama

A woman stands in a cemetery in Corozal, Panama, August 21, 2007/

19.3 murders per 100,000 people

80% killed by firearms

Panama's gangs and drug traffickers are responsible for roughly 23% of its homicides each year, according to a 2013 Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety report. The country is still safer than some other central American countries, like Honduras and Guatemala.

17. Swaziland

Protesters take part in a march in Mbabane, the Swaziland capital, March 18, 2011.

19.4 murders per 100,000 people

56% killed by firearms

One of the world's last remaining absolute monarchies has one of the highest homicide rates in Africa. That may be partly due to its low prosecution rates, the Times of Swaziland reported.

Pro-reform protesters frequently take to the streets demanding democracy and the removal of King Mswati III, who has ruled for 25 years and has a fortune of $US200 million.

16. Namibia

Indigenous Namibian women.

19.7 murders per 100,000 people

47% killed by firearms

Gender-based violence is a huge problem in this coastal south African country. Women are disproportionately victims of crimes of passion, and rapes and murders of women and children are reported almost weekly, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa reported.

14. Mexico

A man, who was beaten up by residents, sits guarded by two police officers in the back of a police truck in Xalapa Dec. 10, 2014.

22.0 murders per 100,000 people

73% killed by firearms

The Mexican drug war killed over 60,000 people between 2006 and 2012, according to a 2013 Human Rights Watch report.

Drug cartels have battled each other and the government for control of territory since 2006, and the results have been extremely bloody: 22,732 people were killed in 2013 alone, compared to 14,827 in the US that same year.

Because there is only one legal firearms dealer in Mexico and roughly 6,700 along the US-Mexico border, 70% of the guns used by these cartels originated from sales in the US, CNN reported last year.

13. Dominican Republic

Women hold a banner as they march towards the presidential palace to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Santo Domingo Nov. 25, 2014.

25.4 murders per 100,000 people

64% killed by firearms

The nonprofit Transparency International ranked the Dominican Republic as one of the most corrupt countries in the world earlier this year.

This corruption has spawned civil unrest as citizens question why the government has failed to improve the country's infrastructure and provide them with electricity and water, a 2013 OSAC Crime and Safety Report states. The country also has a thriving drug trafficking industry that makes it easy to exchange narcotics for firearms.

12. Haiti

A man points a gun to the crowd in downtown Port-au-Prince Jan. 15, 2010.

26.6 murders per 100,000 people

36% killed by firearms

Severe prison overcrowding, a deadly cholera epidemic, and high levels of food insecurity are among Haiti's biggest problems.

Haiti lacks the resources to address these problems adequately, however, especially since one third of its senate seats remain empty due to disagreements over a 2008 electoral law, according to a 2014 Human Rights Watch report.

10. Trinidad and Tobago

Forensic workers carry one of the bodies of German couple Hubertus and Birgid Keil, after they were found murdered on a beach near their home in the island of Tobago Nov. 22, 2014.

35.3 murders per 100,000 people

77% killed by firearms

This small island nation off the coast of Venezuela is home to over 100 different gangs that have taken over virtually every aspect of society.

In the absence of a legitimate government, Trinidadian gangs have come to resemble governments in and of themselves, Insight Crime reports. Violent power battles frequently erupt between groups seeking control over the nation's cities, and anti-gang legislation passed in 2011 has proven ineffective.

9. South Africa

Miners strike in South Africa.

35.7 murders per 100,000 people

54% killed by firearms

South Africa's rate of violent crime is one of the highest in the world, and it only continues to rise.

The average number of murders committed each day increased from 45 to 47 between 2013 and 2014, Africa Check reports. In 2012-2013, 827 children were murdered in South Africa -- more than two per day.

A lack of respect for the law and pervasive inequality -- both lasting effects of the apartheid state -- continue to drive violence in South Africa.

8. Lesotho

A woman walks with a child past armed personnel carriers at the entrance of the army barracks in Maseru, Lesotho Aug. 30 2014.

37.5 murders per 100,000 people

50% killed by firearms

Lesotho's strict gun control laws do little to stem the flow of illegal weapons from nearby South Africa. While organised crime is uncommon, criminals are usually well-armed and willing to use violence to subdue victims, according to a 2012 OSAC Crime and Safety Report.

7. Guatemala

A boy walks past a destroyed house after clashes in Pajoques on the outskirts of Guatemala City September 21, 2014.

39.9 murders per 100,000 people

86% killed by firearms

A common phrase in Guatemala is 'En Guatemala, la vida no vale nada.' In Guatemala, life is worth nothing.

Violence in this small Central American country kills between 11 and 15 people each day, and up to 98% of these crimes go unpunished, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports. Endemic poverty and weak law enforcement drive drug trafficking and gang violence, according to a 2014 OSAC Crime and Safety Report.

6. El Salvador

Members of the 18th Street gang attend a mass at the prison of Izalco, about 40 miles from San Salvador April 13, 2012.

43.9 murders per 100,000 people

77% killed by firearms

Over 20,000 of El Salvador's 6 million residents belong to gangs, according to a 2014 Crime and Safety Report.

Gang rape is rampant and used as a weapon to terrorize communities, the Associated Press has reported. The gangs are also known to carry out murders for large drug cartels in Mexico. El Salvador's gang violence has gotten so bad it's spurred the US-bound exodus of thousands of children, who are often threatened with death if they don't join a gang, the Guardian reported.

5. Colombia

A Colombian soldier organise packs of confiscated cocaine in a laboratory near Palmira, Valle del Cauca province Aug. 20, 2004.

43.9 murders per 100,000 people

80% killed by firearms

Colombia's domestic conflict between the government and leftist insurgencies the FARC and the National Liberation Army has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians over 60 years, according to an OSAC Crime and Safety Report.

Those insurgencies, along with right-wing paramilitary groups and drug traffickers, are constantly battling for control over the production and transport of illicit drugs. Control over Colombia's lucrative coffee industry has also been a major source of violent conflict.

4. Belize

A soldier patrols the streets in Belize.

44.7 murders per 100,000 people

69% killed by firearms

This popular tourist destination has seen a steady increase in crime over the last few years, with the majority of homicides taking place in Belize City, OSAC reported in 2013. Between 2011 and 2012, the murder rate rose 15%.

Two gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, are responsible for much of Belize's gang violence, according to Vice News. Gang rape is rampant, and the country's police force is understaffed and poorly equipped. As a result, many violent criminals go unpunished.

3. Jamaica

A Jamaican police officer searches overhead buildings near the Tivoli Gardens area of Kingston, Jamaica May 26, 2010.

45.1 murdersper 100,000 people

70% killed by firearms

While Jamaica's political system is relatively stable, economic problems including high unemployment and growing debt plague the country and have increased social tension, OSAC reports.

Although Jamaica's murder rate has fallen by 40% since 2009, gang violence and poverty remain serious problems, BBC reports. Since the country's most notorious gang leader, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, was captured in 2010, his relatives and rivals have battled for control over his criminal empire.

2. Venezuela

Police protect a man from being hurt by anti-government protesters who accuse him of being a government spy, during an anti-government demonstration in Caracas April 4, 2014.

57.6 murdersper 100,000 people

90%killed by firearms

Since taking over as president after Chavez's death in 2013, the distinctly unpopular Nicolas Maduro has used heavy-handed police crackdowns to oppress people calling for his removal.

Venezuela's excessive use of force against anti-government protesters from February to May resulted in 43 deaths, prompting Congress to sanction the officials responsible for the violence. Maduro recently called the sanctions 'stupid' and 'insolent,' Reuters reported.

1. Honduras

In this April 26, 2014 photo, Maria Jose Alvarado is crowned the new Miss Honduras in San Pedro, Sula, Honduras. She and her sister were found shot to death last month.

103.9 murders per 100,000 people

84%killed by firearms

Honduras' murder rate has been steadily increasing over the past decade and is now the highest in the world. There are frequent attacks on journalists, poor people, gay people, and human rights defenders. The government routinely fails to bring the perpetrators to justice, Human Rights Watch reports.

Organised crime gangs routinely collude with the police, and police brutality is rampant: 149 civilians were killed by officers from January 2011 to November 2012, according to Human Rights Watch.

Many Hondurans have fled to the US to escape the violence, and some have been deported only to be killed upon their return. For this reason, President Obama recently granted amnesty to some 80,000 Honduran immigrants who have been in the country since 1999.

Now see which cities top the list...

A Brazilian drug gang member nicknamed Poison, 18, poses with a gun atop a hill overlooking a slum in Salvador, Bahia State, April 11, 2013.

The 50 Most Violent Cities In The World

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