Guatemala, one of the world’s great travel destinations, is often singled out for violent crime without telling the whole story. While there is sporadic violence along parts of the country, Key tourism areas of Antigua, Rio Dulce, Tikal and Lake Atitlan Guatemala are not only safe, but safer than many other popular tourism areas.
While the media often portrays Guatemala as the most dangerous place on earth, it is statistically quite safe. According to NationMaster.com which uses U.N.-based data, Guatemala doesn’t even make the list of the 36 nations with the highest murder rates. Mild-mannered nations like Sweden and Switzerland top Guatemala for murders on NationMaster.com. The assault rate in the U.S. is nearly 5 times greater than that of Guatemala in the independent Prominix report adjusted for under-reported crime.
Even when we add on independent estimates for unreported homicides, Guatemala ranks behind many popular vacation destinations. Places we think of as idyllic Caribbean retreats have double, triple, even quadruple the murder rates of Guatemala. Guatemala ‘s famous vacation areas are even safer than the averaged statistics, and even safer still for tourists.
Guatemala is as safe as rural U.S. states.
The magnificent volcanoes, beautiful Lake Aittlan, colonial Antigua, and ancient Mayan ruins are among the safest and most spectacular in the world. Guatemala’s homicide rate is slightly lower than the rural U.S. States of Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Maine.
Guatemala is safer than many cities in the U.S.
More than 15,000 Americans safely visit Guatemala every day. And while the media sensationalizes stories of violence in Guatemala, Guatemala is safer than many major U.S. cities. Travelers feel relatively safe visiting popular U.S. cities like Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington D.C, or Atlanta. Visitors from around the world enjoy these vibrant cities in relative, reasonable safety. Yet each of these cities is statistically less safe than Guatemala.
Guatemala and politically charged Media Bias
In the debate on immigration reform in the US, the facts on safety in Guatemala have become a casualty of politics. To change public opinion and policy, politicians sometimes throw fuel on the fire.
Media Favoritism versus Facts
New Orleans is beloved and its renaissance is showcased in the news. The FBI reports the murder rate of New Orleans is declining, but it is nearly 4 times higher than all of Guatemala and over 5 times higher than Guatemala City. New Orleans is still an amazing place to visit and the Media is right to champion this inspirational city. But Guatemala is at least as remarkable and there is a clear difference in how each of these storied destinations is portrayed in contemporary news. Every city and country has places that are safe and dangerous. Guatemala is no exception. The areas that are dangerous should be avoided. And those that are safe should be enjoyed and celebrated.
Guatemala City is as safe as Washington D.C.
The U.S. State Department in Washington issues warnings about Guatemala, yet Washington D.C. is as deadly as Guatemala City. Washington’s murder rate has been cut almost in half in the last 10 years, but it still averages 24 per 100,000 vs. 36 per 100,000 in Guatemala City. How do you suppose the U.S. State department would feel if the Guatemalan government posted travel warnings for the U.S. capital?
Guatemala has very low violent crime rates.
The U.S. Assault rate is 5 times higher than Guatemala ‘s. Guatemala ‘s violent crime rates for Assault, Kidnapping and Rape are substantially lower than Canada’s and yet the U.S. State Department issues no such warnings for Canada. The rate for Rape in the U.S. is more than double the rate in Guatemala. The numbers have been adjusted for unreported crime from the respected 2012 Prominix report and are the most accurate statistics available on this subject.
Unless you are involved in the drug trade, you are statistically as safe in Guatemala as anywhere else in North America. Even though the U.S. murder rate of 4 per 100,000 is lower than Guatemala ‘s, tourists and visitors are statistically safer in Guatemala and much less likely to be a victim of violent crime than in the U.S., Canada and many other countries regarded as safe.