Is it safe to visit this country?

Have you ever wondered whether it was safe to go to a certain country? Last March, I had a conference in the Middle East and wanted to visit Lebanon as a side trip.   But family was saying no, it’s dangerous while  travel forums were saying it was safe.   I was confused with all the conflicting information and I wanted unbiased facts — how safe was it to visit Lebanon?

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in UK has an amazing amount of statistics on their UK citizens that travel. Because they publish the number of annual tourists AND how many died or  were hospitalized,  I could calculate the danger rate by simple division:

Safety risk = # of hospitalizations & deaths for tourists / total # of tourists

The safety risk for visiting each country is pretty low overall. For example, according to my numbers, the most dangerous country to visit is Philippines, where about 1 in 1,000 tourists will run into some trouble. However, even though this is a relatively small number, you could ask, how safe is visiting the Philippines compared to say, visiting the United States? By calculating the relative risk, it is ~19 times more dangerous to visit the Philippines than to visit the United States.

Safety risk includes the number of deaths and hospitalizations. I also looked at the rate of “major incidents” which also includes arrests, assaults, and missing persons as well as deaths and hospitalizations.  Because nothing spoils a vacation like going to jail.

Surprisingly, while the U.S. is a safe place to go (in the top 10 of countries with a lower chance of dying or being hospitalized as a tourist), a lot of Brits were arrested in the U.S.  You’re 6 times more likely to be arrested in the U.S. than in China!

RunWellFluorTargetContentSampleBiological Set NameCqCq MeanCq Std. Dev
VP-xxxx-yyy_001A01HEXInternal ControlUnkn-1Fusion30.8251246930.81717730.193826672
VP-xxxx-yyy_001A01Texas RedGene AUnkn-1FusionNaN00


Caveats aka Grain of Salt:

  • Numbers are from April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010 so if there was some out-of-the-ordinary event in the country during that time, it could inflate numbers
  • Tourists = UK citizens travelling  & living abroad.   I don’t know why Thailand is so dangerous — I’ve been there myself and want to go back again, but if UK citizens are retiring there, then it would make sense they would die there (and this increase the danger rate.)