Want to travel? Stay away from these hot spots of crime, violence, says State Department

Neill Borowski

Elvis Presley plays a lifeguard and singer (of course) in the 1963 movie Fun in Acapulco. Co-stars Ursula Andress and Alejandro Rey worked with Presley on location at the popular resort.

Still a beautiful place more than 50 years later, Acapulco is in the Mexican state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of the nation. But today Elvis and gang probably wouldn't film on the inviting sand beaches.

The U.S. State Department lists travel to Guerrero as red – the most dangerous ranking, meaning "Do no travel," plain and simple. 

"Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime," warns the State Department. "Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by U.S. government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted."

The State Department provides advisories and other essential information for Americans interested in international travel on its travel.state.gov website. The State Department also provides more detailed information on other nations. In its ratings of the travel safety of other nations, the agency uses red for "Do not travel," orange for "Reconsider travel," yellow for "Exercise increased caution" and blue for "Exercise normal precautions."

Here are the travel hot spots – according to the State Department: 

  • Afghanistan. "Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe because of critical levels of kidnappings, hostage taking, suicide bombings, widespread military combat operations, landmines, and terrorist and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne, magnetic, or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide vests, and grenades," the State Department advises.
  • Central African Republic. "Violent crime, such as armed robbery, aggravated battery, and homicide, is common. Large areas of the country are controlled by armed groups who regularly kidnap, injure, and/or kill civilians. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice."
  • Colima, Mexico. Crime.
  • Guerrero, Mexico. (Acapulco located in this state). Crime.
  • Haiti. "There are currently widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti."
  • Iran. "There is a very high risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in Iran, particularly U.S.-Iranian dual nationals."
  • Iraq. "U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may also threaten U.S. citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by IEDs occur frequently in many areas of the country, including Baghdad."
  • Libya. "Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom. Westerners and U.S. citizens have been targets of these crimes.Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities."
  • Mali. "Violent crime, such as kidnapping and armed robbery, is common in the regions of northern and central Mali. Violent crime is a particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali’s southern regions. Roadblocks and random police checkpoints are commonplace throughout the country, especially at night."
  • Michoacan, Mexico. Crime.
  • North Korea. "Do not travel to North Korea due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals. Individuals cannot use a U.S. passport to travel to, in, or through North Korea without a special validation from the Department of State."
  • Sinaloa, Mexico. Crime.
  • Somalia. "Violent crime, such as kidnapping and murder, is common throughout Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. Illegal roadblocks are also widespread. Pirates are active in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia."
  • South Sudan"Violent crime, such as carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba. Foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes."
  • Syria. "No part of Syria is safe from violence. Kidnappings, the use of chemical warfare, shelling, and aerial bombardment pose significant risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country."
  • TamaulipasMexico. Crime.
  • Venezuela. "Do not travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens."
  • Yemen"Terrorist groups continue to plot and conduct attacks in Yemen. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting public sites, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Additionally, there is a continuing threat of kidnapping/detention by terrorists, criminal elements, and/or non-government actors. Employees of western organizations may be targeted for attack or kidnapping."
     

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Want to travel? Stay away from these hot spots of crime, violence, says State Department