Crime worldwide - Statistics & Facts

Crime is an illegal act punishable by law. It involves harming other people or damaging the property of others, including common goods belonging to the society. Crime acts range from threats and harassment, domestic violence, larceny, illegal possession of guns or drugs, cybercrime, to violent offences such as sexual assaults, homicide, or human trafficking.

Highest murder rates in Latin America

The highest murder rates in the world are found in Latin America. Of the 10 countries with the highest murder rates in 2021, seven were found in Latin America, the other three being in Africa. El Salvador, the country with the highest homicide rate globally, had a ,murder rate of 52 per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, Iceland, the country with the lowest murder rate, had a murder rate of only 1.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. Also the most dangerous cities in the world are mostly found in Latin America. The list was dominated by cities in Latin and Central America with a few cities from the United States and South Africa in between. Tijuana in Mexico had the highest murder rate in 2021 at 138, followed by Acapulco, also in Mexico. Outside of Latin America, Cape Town in South Africa had the highest rate, whereas St. Louis in the United States had the 14th highest global murder rate.

However, these numbers do not include victims killed in violent conflict or war. For instance, people living in Pakistan had the highest risk of becoming victims of a genocide in 2021, followed by neighboring India. A high number of countries on the list are found in Africa. That year, there were 20 ongoing wars in the world, 16 of these being fought in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Terrorism is a violent crime that claims thousands of lives annually. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 in 2001, the so-called War on Terror has been one of the dominating international topics. Whereas this was the deadliest terrorist attack through history, most of the terrorist attacks in 2020 happened in countries in the Global South. That year, the highest number of attacks were registered in Afghanistan, followed by Syria. In 2021, as many as 20 percent of the deaths caused by terrorists in the world were registered in Afghanistan. Whereas the total number of terrorist attacks worldwide decreased from 2014 to 2020, the number of fatalities fluctuated, peaking in 2018 at almost 33,000.

Cyber crime

With the development of online and mobile technologies, cybercrime is becoming more and more common. As of December 2021, over half of the internet users worldwide have at least once experienced cybercrime. Personal and business e-mail compromises accounted for the largest reported victim losses. A high number of the victims of cybercrime are professional businesses and private individuals, but also public institutions are increasingly becoming victims of cyber attacks. For instance, this is a common weapon in Russia's ongoing war Ukraine.

Prison and punishment

Even though the highest murder rates are found in Latin American countries, the United States of America has the highest incarceration rate worldwide. This is related to the high number of people in the country being imprisoned for drug-related crimes. Meanwhile, several countries in Latin America are struggling with overcrowded prisons. In some countries, the death penalty is seen as a suitable punishment for some types of crime, but this has been abandoned in several countries.


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