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Community / Public space

Where are the world's most violent cities?

Big cities can be scary, can’t they? All those people, crushed, unsmiling, into the same small spaces. All those shadowy strangers. All those darkened streets.

In reality, of course, nothing bad ever happened on most of those streets. Most of those strangers are probably lovely if you get to know them, and are only grumpy because their bus was late. But some cities are, well, more dangerous than others.

The infographic above comes courtesy of our old friends Statista. It shows the per capita murder rate in a selection of cities, using data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The cities shown weren’t chosen for any reason beyond the fact they represent a decent geographical and statistical spread; the size of the bubble reflects the murder rate.


The graphic shows that, in the developed world, you’re relatively unlikely to be murdered, which is good, obviously: even New York, which once upon a time was the archetype for the scary big city, is actually pretty safe.

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These figures are for 2011 (and, in some cases, the years either side), a time which was thankfully free of major terrorist attacks in the west: one of those would presumably have bumped up the figures. But even an attack on the scale of the one in Paris earlier this month wouldn’t have bumped the per capital death toll rise into double figures.

Contrast that with Latin American. The homicide tolls in Bogota and Sao Paolo are a whole order of magnitude higher than in London or Paris.

Most terrifying of all is the bubble representing Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, a city with the unpleasant distinction of having the world’s highest murder rate. Its residents are nearly 150 times as likely to be murdered as those of Auckland. So bad is crime in the city that, by 2012, funerals for the poorest residents were being given away for free.


This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.