Comparison of violent death rates by country

This web site is dedicated to answering the question “How likely is it that someone will kill me based on the society I live in?” Unlike other country-by-country comparisons of this kind, this site presents a cohesive “Violent Death Rate” (or VDR) which will combine murders, military deaths, executions, manslaughter, justifiable homicides… you get the picture. See the Criteria tab, and comment on which categories of deaths should or should not be included in the VDR. Page also included sources and methodology for compiling the VDR of different periods.

Where possible I will include a historical time table for comparison in the specific “Countries” list. This will be a work in progress, with countries and new stats added as I am able. For interesting observations click the Comparisons tab.

Below I have an explanation of the color coded system seen in the above map and elsewhere on the site.

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OBLITERATION (400-over)

Total chaos. Assuming levels of deaths due to natural causes such as disease and starvation are increasing as well, there is a possibility that this society will not survive. Entire classes of people are likely to be wiped out if rate continues. Statistics unreliable in this range as the social order to keep accurate track of the dead is likely absent.

EXAMPLES:

Russia (1943) Russian Military Death Rwanda (1994) Rwanda massacres

Germany (1632) Protestant German war deaths Persia/Iran (1387) pile of skulls

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DECIMATION (200-399)

Almost certainly involved in a bitter war. Large numbers of civilian casualties probably has become the norm. Amazingly, during The Great Purge in the Soviet Union (1937-38), officials were executing enough people to put them in this range… on that body count alone.

EXAMPLES:

United States (1862) Afghanistan (1979)

Japan (1600) England (1645)

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EXTREME UPHEAVAL (100-199)

There is bonified “chaos in the streets“. Either this nation is involved in a pretty knock-down-drag-out fight with another country… a civil war… or god knows what. If the majority of the deaths are homicides, then they are probably barely being investigated, if at all. Only on rare occasions does a country maintain this level of violence which isn’t due to war.

EXAMPLES:

Iraq (2006) Germany (1870)

Sudan (2003) United States (1944)

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EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF (50-99)

Violence is a part of everyday life. Otherwise peaceful societies will occasionally see periods of this level during war time. If the death rate occurs during peace time, with traditional homicides and state executions the main culprit, then it is often a sign that the judicial system is corrupt or ineffective. “Law and Order” will often be sighted as the biggest concern to citizens when polled.

EXAMPLES:

Honduras (2008) Honduras Violence 2008 Great Britain (1815)

Albania (1997) Albania street violence Columbia (1992) Columbian Violence

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WATCH YOUR BACK (30-49)

Citizens live in relative fear for their lives. Only a handfull of modern nations are stuck in this range. To give a comparison, during the Dark Ages of Europe, this was the level of violence the typical society endured… and that was with The Hundred Years War, and the homicide increase that came on the heel of the Bubonic Plague. Put bluntly, if your country isn’t at war, yet you’re in this category, then you live in a pretty barbaric place.

EXAMPLES:

Russia (1995) United States (1918)

South Africa (2003) Guatemala (2008)

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HARSH LIVING (18-29.9)

There’s definitely allot of room for improvement. Many “emerging market” nations fall into this range. Pervasive poverty and inequality in living standards are common characteristics of countries within this grouping.

EXAMPLES:

Ecuador (2004) Ecuador violence Venezuela (1994) venezuelan violence

Brazil (2007) violence in brazil Burma (2002) 

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SOMEWHAT STABLE (12-17.9)

Middle of the road possibility of being killed. This is actually a common range for under 34 year old age groups, therefore, some nations fall into this category simply by having too many young men. These countries are toeing the line of being “dangerous” places to live.

EXAMPLES:

United States (1968) vietnam violence Britain (1608)

Mexico (2000) violence in mexico Russia (2008)

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SOME CONCERN (8-11.9)

It’s unlikely you will die violently here. That’s not to say these countries don’t have their share of homicides and military flair ups… but it’s not a society where the average person has to alter their life around personal security. These societies are sometimes perceived as violent in the modern age, although historically speaking, they are not.

EXAMPLES:

Thailand (2005) Ukraine (1995)

Philippines (2002) Iran (1978)

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LOW LIKELIHOOD (4-7.9)

Violent Deaths are common enough that they aren’t “breaking news” worthy. However, it is still very rare for an individual to be killed. If the majority of rate is comprised of military deaths, then this country is in a serious war. If the entire rate is composed of civilian homicides, then this nation is accostomed to violent confrontation as a problem solver. All in all though, a respectably low rate.

EXAMPLES:

Turkey (1993) Poland (2000)

Canada (1901) United States (2008)

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PEACEFUL (2-3.9)

People seldom resort to violence to solve their problems. Violent tendencies are a social taboo. This country is likely in a stable region without threat of invasion.

EXAMPLES:

India (2009)  Australia (1988)

Sweden (2002) Switzerland (2006)

Spear violent deth project website

UTOPIA (0-1.9)

This is the best case scenario. Violent tendencies, and threats of violence are virtually unknown. Nation’s military is probably just on stand by. You can’t completely stop the occasional jealous husband or crazy person acting out, and that is probably all that befalls these people.

EXAMPLES:

Canada (1966) Great Britain (1930)

Japan (2000) France (2009)