An economic downturn and high unemployment in the past couple of years have brought increased crime to various spots across South America. Scattered incidents of armed robbery...

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An economic downturn and high unemployment in the past couple of years have brought increased crime to various spots across South America. Scattered incidents of armed robbery and other violent crimes against tourists have been reported in the heavily populated urban areas of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima and Cuzco, Peru; and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil.

The U.S. State Department has urged visitors to take precautions in these cities and in remote areas. Travelers are advised not to walk outdoors at night and to order cabs by telephone. Otherwise, crime is generally limited to pickpocketing and purse-snatchings, particularly in central markets, beaches and other places frequented by tourists. The usual precautions apply: Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, leave valuables and documents in the hotel, dress conservatively and carry only small amounts of cash. For more safety tips, consult the U.S. State Department’s country-by-country information sheets: 888-407-4747 (recorded information) or www.travel.state.gov.

Political unrest and terrorist violence is an issue in Bolivia, and the State Department also warns of extremist group activity in Cuidad del Este in Paraguay and along the tri-country region of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.

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Colombia, the scene of an ongoing civil war, is generally considered to be the most dangerous country on the continent, although tourism is picking up in some areas. In December, however, the State Department updated its official warning that advises U.S. citizens against travel to Colombia, citing kidnappings of foreigners there in recent years (including Americans) and ongoing guerrilla warfare.


Health precautions


For information on recommended vaccinations for travelers to South American countries, and updates on any disease outbreaks, see the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/travel.