Guyana has been listed in the 20 countries with the highest murder rate.
Guyana is ranked number 15, a few places above Panama and below Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica in terms of the most per capita murders.
Zimbabwe tops the overall list, which also includes South Africa, Guatemala, Iraq, Venezuela and Columbia.
The United Nations and the World Health Organization recently 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 percent 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.
Below is a list of the most murderous countries in the world.
15.1 murders per 100,000 people
33% killed by firearms
Political violence has become a fact of life in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe has ruled with a heavy hand for over 30 years.
Mugabe ordered the takeover of white-owned farms in 2000, causing an economic collapse that still has lingering effects. Unemployment hit 90% by 2008.
18.6 murders per 100,000 people
45% killed by firearms
Close to 8,000 civilians were killed in the first two months of the Iraq war, according to Iraq Body Count. Since 2003, the number of civilians killed every month has lowered significantly, but this war-torn nation remains one of the most homicidal on earth.
The civilian death rate remained relatively low from 2008 through 2012 but has crept back up since 2013 and the rise of the Islamic State. Roughly 1,351 Iraqi civilians were killed every month in 2014.
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.
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 $200 million.
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.
20.2 murders per 100,000 people
49% killed by firearms
Guyana is one of the few Caribbean countries that are part of South America. The government has made it difficult for the average person to own a firearm legally, which has caused more weapons to go unlicensed. It’s relatively easy to get handguns, machetes, and knives, according to OSAC’s 2013 Crime and Safety Report.
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
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.
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.
32.1 murders per 100,000 people
75% killed by firearms
Between 2006 and 2011, crime in the Bahamas rose by 49%, the Tribune reported last year.
With a homicide rate of 32.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, this tropical paradise technically qualifies as an armed conflict zone, according to the definition provided by the World Health Organization.
Armed robbery, rape, and homicide are common in the Bahamas. The causes of violent crime range from gang warfare to trivial disputes. Experts at the College of the Bahamas have speculated that the exposure of Bahamian children to violence at home may contribute to their own violent behavior later on.
10. Trinidad and Tobago
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
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.
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 organized 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
45.1 murders per 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.
57.6 murders per 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.
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.
Organized 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.
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