A record number of Americans were forecast to travel to other countries in 2018, buoyed by a strong dollar and a surging economy. In 2017, the number of U.S. visits overseas rose by 9.1 percent from the previous year to 38.3 million, according to data from U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, and the National Travel and Tourism Office. The number of visits to Europe, at nearly 16 million in 2017, climbed 16 percent – the most of any region.
With so many Americans traveling, it would be in their best interest to check the U.S. State Department’s website for travel advisories, which the department is constantly updating. On Jan. 29, 2019, the department raised the caution advisory for Venezuela to Level 4, or “do not travel,” because of the ongoing turmoil in that country. The advisories are intended to keep Americans who are traveling aware of potential terrorist attacks, civil unrest, and level and nature of crime in other nations.
Click through the slideshow above to see the 28 countries the U.S. government doesn’t want you to visit.
The State Department has four advisory levels for travelers: Level 4 – do not travel; Level 3 – reconsider travel; Level 2 – exercise increased caution; and Level 1 – exercise normal precautions.
Of the 209 countries the State Department has advisories for, 12 are classified “do not travel.” Eleven are in Africa or Asia. The 12th country classified as “do not travel” is the South American country Venezuela. The State Department raised its caution ranking to Level 4 on Jan. 29, 2019, because of the chaotic situation paralyzing that nation. Two men are claiming to be president of the country, which has the world’s largest oil reserves.
Travel warnings can be issued for many reasons and can also vary in concern. Many of the Middle Eastern and African countries on this list are unsafe because of the threat of terrorism and dangers arising from political instability. Countries such as Yemen, South Sudan and Syria have been embroiled in protracted armed conflicts that have destabilized those nations.
In North Korea, the main threat to American citizens is the government itself. Americans risk arrest, long-term sentences and even hard labor for infractions not considered criminal in the U.S. Punishable offenses in North Korea include taking unauthorized photographs, shopping at stores not designated for foreigners, and disrespecting the country’s current and former leaders. Otto Warmbier, an American student who had been imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, suffered severe brain damage while in the custody of the North Korean government and died last year before his body was returned home to Ohio.
To identify the countries the U.S. government doesn’t want you to visit, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the State Department’s list of countries with standing travel warnings as of Jan 29, 2019. Reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Population figures and GDP per capita data are for the most recent year available and are from the World Bank.
24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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