There are seasoned world travelers, and then there are fearless world travelers. If you plan to visit any of these 12 countries, you're the latter (or you just don't read the news).
A steep decline in tourism revenues is a consequence of war that we don't speak enough about. Sure, there has been a decades-long East vs. West rivalry (ask Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky about it). However, many Americans had become quite comfortable taking summer vacations to Moscow—until recently. Organized tourism has dropped by as much as 90% due to the conflict in the East, and Russia remains on the State Department's ‘Do Not Travel' Advisory.
Destabilized by a civil war that dates back to 2021, Myanmar (also known as Burma) is an active conflict zone unsuited for tourists. The truth is that Myanmar has been unstable for quite some time, as a series of insurgencies and power struggles lend the nation a powder-keg dynamic.
While Captain Phillips was a movie, it was based on a true story. Among the human rights violations attributed to Somalia are “unlawful and arbitrary killings.” If there is one word you don't want to read in a nation's Zagat Guide, it's “arbitrary killings.”
Many of your favorite travel vloggers have visited Afghanistan, enjoyed the street lamb kebab, met wonderful people, and lived to tell their tale (or publish it on YouTube). However, the hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2021 has left a Hoover-strength power vacuum. The State Department has slapped Afghanistan with a Level 4: Do Not Travel label.
Venezuela's rapid descent under former dictator Hugo Chavez has continued under his sycophantic heir, Nicolas Maduro. A Marxist-style planned economy has led Venezuela to squander its considerable oil resources, leading the population into starvation and, for many, crime as a means of survival. An unpredictable government, high violent crime and kidnapping rates, and a deep sadness clouding a country on the brink—this isn't a recipe for a memorable holiday.
6. South Sudan
The governing style in South Sudan may be best described as a free-for-all. Tragically, though, those who live in South Sudan are not free from terror or constant power struggles between the government of the minute and various rebel groups. This resource-rich nation is less of a nation than a hodge-podge of feuding ethnic groups, and it's one of the least safe locales on the planet.
The only thing hotter than Mali's Saharan climate is the tension between rebel groups, government forces, and various armed ethnic militias. You'd be forgiven for mistaking modern-day Mali for Mad Max.
Belarus is an Eastern European nation that shares a border with Russia and Ukraine, making it a strategic ground both sides covet. Naturally, Belarus is entangled in the conflict between the two nations, which is a shame. The country is rich with history and stunning architecture, but most tourists won't be venturing to Belarus for quite some time.
Libya was never a utopia under the deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi, also known as The Colonel. He ruled the large, oil-bearing North African nation for 42 years until the Arab Spring culminated in his death in 2011 at the hands of NATO forces. Long an opponent of the West, Gaddafi's Libya looks like Disney World compared to today's fractured, semi-lawless version.
The Caribbean island nation of Haiti is naturally stunning but lacks most of the 21st-century amenities that exist just a stone's throw away in the United States. Over 2,000 Haitians died at the hands of criminal factions in the first half of 2023, while kidnappings and violent crimes are the norm in this chronically unstable nation.
11. North Korea
The tragic trial and death of Otto Warmbier will serve as a lasting reminder not to travel to North Korea. The risk is not worth the reward, especially if you plan on documenting your trip into Kim Jong Un's hermetic kingdom.
Olympic athletes are frightened to return to Iran because they believe their government will imprison them—for not wearing a headscarf! Imagine what the Ayatollah Khomeini's notoriously anti-Western regime would do if you (knowingly or unknowingly) broke one of the nation's rigid laws.
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Source: State Department.