News channels supply us with an endless 24 hour-loop of bloodshed and crime (it sells), they have us believe that we now live in a more violent and dangerous world than ever before. Crime statistics (despite their bad press) suggest the opposite and hold that we are living in less violent and more civilised times. That said, numbers are little consolation when you are a victim. We compiled data from Interpol, the FBI and the UN to come up with these most menacing neighbourhoods. Whether it's on your doorstep or you're just driving through, take care and roll the windows up.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Famed for its beautiful beaches and beautiful people. The picturesque seaside City saw 8000 murders last year, close to 20 murders a day. The Pirahnas drug cartel rule the city's Morro do Borel shanty town, making Rio a true gangster's paradise. In preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games the Brazilian government has taken heavy-handed (and highly criticised) measures to move the drug cartels out of the city and far from the eyes of the Olympic Committee and potential tourists.
Where just about everybody carries a gun, Caracas is like Texas on crack. The capital of Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year, making it one of Latin America's most violent cities. According to a recent United Nations report, over 70 percent of all murders in South America are carried out with guns compared to about 30 percent for Western Europe. Earlier this year, the government introduced a new gun law to try to disarm citizens. A local told the BBC: "They're killing people every day. This law is important but they need to do more, they're not doing enough now." Perhaps proving the theory that both people and guns, kill people.
Grozny, Chechnya, Russia
Things are pretty organised in Grozny -- at least when it comes to crime that is. The city was virtually destroyed by the conflict between Chechnya and Russia in the 1990s and was named “Most Destroyed City on Earth” by the United Nations in 2003. And from the ashes rose corruption. The Russian Mafia is thought to have such a stronghold on this place that the cops are the front. Organised crime thrives, with prostitution and drugs the main sources of income for the crime syndicates.
Another South American capital plagued by a history of drugs and violence. In the 1980s, the revolutionary Farc group abandoned any ideology for extortion, kidnapping and drug-trafficking. President Juan Manuel Santos is thought to be holding peace talks with Farc. But the problem won't end if and when a deal is brokered. In fact the capital's bigger problem is that it's the main distribution centre for drug running and in case you didn't notice there are still a lot of customers. If you do find yourself in Bogota then stick to the south side of the city, it's much safer (relatively speaking).
Cape Town, South Africa
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) 2011 study revealed Africa to have the world's highest intentional murder rates. East Africa topped the list but not far behind it was Cape Town, with 71,500 sexual offenses, 18,400 burglaries and 13,900 business robberies in just one year.
This may come as a surprise given that Bangkok is now considered one of the hottest tourist destinations, but Asia's Sin City has a very seedy underbelly. Bangkok is a major transit city for heroin and is home to one of the world's biggest criminal undergrounds. This coupled with the recent civil unrest between the "red-shirts" and the Thai government, make Bangkok a city of violence, drugs and smiling tourists.
The 2010 earthquake devastated a city which was always considered to be a haven for the criminal underworld. It is believed to be the fourth biggest transit city for drugs into the US. The police are a virtually non-existent entity; the guy in the photo was beaten and made to lay in rubble after being accused of stealing by a local merchant who took the law into his own hands.
Crime statistics may support the argument that we live in less violent times, but global military spending has been growing for more than a decade. The "war on terrorism" has done little to thwart violence on the streets of Baghdad, which has become accustomed to daily suicide bombings and seen 650,000 civilian deaths since the war began in 2003. Mercer’s 2008 global index this war-torn capital was the most dangerous place in the world.
Since the Somali Civil War in 1991, Mogasdishu has been widely labelled as a "failed" state and home to modern-day pirates. The seaside city has been home to criminals and been under the control of Al-Qaida-linked militants since 2007. However, it has been bumped off the "top spot" after African Union fighters managed to make some ground earlier this year. Elections due to take place this year offer hope for locals, while some fear a return to infighting and clan violence.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Sadly when we think of Mexico these days it's no longer of tasty Burritos but of lawless towns, drug cartels and gruesome beheadings. The "war on drugs" has led to more violent crime and homicide in this city than any other in Mexico, with 120 killings per 100,000 residents. During the last five years, 47,515 people have died in Mexico as a result of the drug trade. The cartels control a business that is estimated to be worth £9bn a year, meaning they have ample resources to arm themselves and bribe local authorities. The message? Drugs kill.