While some communities are repeatedly blighted by murder, other parts of the world witness minimal violent crime - but which countries harvest the highest rates of homicide?

According to research by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Americas is the most murderous region in the world, with double the average homicide rate of the second ranking region, Africa.

Murder continues to flood countries in Central and South America where almost half a million people lose their lives per year as a result of intentional homicide.

Figures published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime rank Honduras as the most murderous nation on the planet with homicide rates of 90.4 per 100,000.

Members of Mara Salvatrucha, Honduras


The Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio gangs rule the country, facilitating arms trafficking and illegal drug routes to the US.

Members of society who fail to pay their ‘war taxes’ to these gangs for protection are threatened and regularly killed.

The capital of Honduras, San Pedro Sula is the central hub of criminal activity where murder rates are estimated at approximately 170 per 100,000.

Nearby countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Venezuela and Jamaica secure this region as the most violent in the world.

In the African region, cities in Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa keep average homicides high at 10.7 per 100,000.

Endemic poverty and high unemployment rates have led to increased intentional homicides in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. Murder rates are currently approximately 61.9 in 100,000.

‘Ghost Squad’ police faction making arrests in Cape Town, South Africa


Similarly, although South Africa has halved its murder rate since the 90s, Cape Town homicide rates soar at 59.9 per 100,000.

While Africa and the Americas struggle to tackle violent crime, Europe proves exemplary in this area with an average rate of 2.1 homicides per 100,000.

Asia also puts other nations to shame with multiple nations scoring homicide rates of less than 1 in 100,000.

Iceland and Singapore each have rates of 0.3 per 100,000 and Kuwait and Sweden aren’t far behind with only 0.4 and 0.9 consecutively.

Singapore by night (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)


Crime rates per country largely reflect Aristotle’s notion that ‘poverty is the parent of revolution and crime’, with more developed nations suffering far less homicides.

Low levels of crime are attributed to strong social welfare systems, investment in prisoner rehabilitation, and reduced corruption.

It seems fair to conclude that many nations have a long way to go before managing to overcome the social problems fuelling their high rates of violent crime.