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Mexico City And Washington, D.C., Are About Equally Safe

Mexico has its share of dangerous spots. But some parts of Mexico are just as unsafe as some parts of the United States, and some parts are safer

smithsonian.com

Mexico’s travel industry has been hurting, as crime waves have swept the country and scared tourists away. But is traveling in Mexico any less safe than traveling in the United States?

It depends on where you go and what you do, of course. But if you compare tourist destinations in both places, you might conclude you’re better off heading to Mexico.

Take Orlando, Florida, home of Disney World. There were 7.5 murders per 100,000 residents there in 2010. Cancun, on the other hand, saw 1.83 murders per 100,000 residents, and Puerto Vallarta 5.9. Lonely Planet has some more relevant statistics:

Looking at the numbers, it might be wise for Texans to ignore their Public Safety department’s advice against Mexico travel. Five per 100,000 Texans were homicide victims in 2010, per the FBI. Houston was worse, with 143 murders, or a rate of 6.8 – over three times the rate for Americans in Mexico.

It’s also important to keep the size of Mexico in mind. Mexico is larger than Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., combined. And the murder rate in Mexico City is about the same as it is in Washington, D.C. Detroit, on the other hand, has a murder rate of nearly three times both capitals.

The point being that Mexico is a huge country, full of complex politics and complicated people. The drug trade in Mexico does kill a lot of people—something like 60,000 since 2006.* To put that in context, since 2006, there have been about 200,000 gun deaths in the United States. So yes, Mexico has its share of dangerous spots. But some parts of Mexico are just as unsafe as some parts of the United States, and some parts are safer.

*This post originally put this figure at 600,000. We apologize for the error.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Mexico Is Technically the ‘United Mexican States’ And Isn’t Too Happy About It
Mexico – Cultural Destinations

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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