Travel Leisure

10 Safest Countries To Visit In South America

South America, renowned for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, continues to attract travelers from across the globe. Despite its numerous attractions, concerns about safety often loom large for those considering a visit.

The safety landscape in South America varies widely. According to the Global Peace Index 2023, some countries like Uruguay rank high in global safety indices, while others, such as Colombia and Venezuela, pose unique challenges. It is important to understand that the safety situation differs from one country to another across this diverse continent.

Before planning your trip or considering relocation, it’s essential to explore the distinct safety dynamics of each South American nation. Here’s a comprehensive look at the top ten safest countries in South America for 2023.

10. Colombia (GPI 2.729)

Colombia has maintained its rank of 144th on the Global Peace Index in 2022. Once considered off-limits for tourists, Colombia has become an attractive destination, particularly for backpackers and adventure enthusiasts. Travelers should follow government travel advisories, use official taxis, and stay vigilant about the country’s political climate, which can lead to demonstrations. Must-visit destinations include Medellin, Cartagena, Valle de Cocora, and the Coffee Triangle.

9. Brazil (GPI 2.465)

Brazil ranks as the ninth safest country in South America in 2023, holding the 130th position on the Global Peace Index. Despite its challenges, Brazil boasts a rich culture, friendly locals, and an abundance of natural and manmade wonders. Travelers should exercise caution in major cities, especially regarding muggings, and avoid beaches after dark. Notable destinations include Rio de Janeiro, Chapada Diamantina National Park, Bonito, and Sao Paulo.

8. Guyana (GPI 2.14)

Guyana, the sole English-speaking country in South America, ranks 107th on the 2022 Global Peace Index. This hidden gem is slowly gaining recognition among travelers. Tourists must avoid displaying wealth, heed government travel advice, and keep a low profile. Key attractions in Guyana include Kaieteur Falls, The Rupununi, and the capital city, Georgetown.

7. Peru (GPI 2.091)

Peru has witnessed a significant drop in its safety ranking, moving from 86th to 101st on the Global Peace Index due to ongoing protests. Travelers to Peru should be cautious of muggings, avoid carrying passports around, use official taxis, and stay aware of their surroundings. While most of Peru remains safe, major protests are localized to specific regions.

6. Bolivia (GPI 1.989)

Bolivia has experienced the most significant improvement in its ranking between 2021 and 2022, surging from 105th to 80th, marking it as the eighth safest South American country. Travelers are advised to be cautious of opportunistic theft, use official taxis, learn basic Spanish phrases, and download maps for navigation. Must-visit destinations in Bolivia include Salar de Uyuni, Laguna Colorada, Cochabamba, and Rurrenabaque.

5. Ecuador (GPI 1.988)

Ecuador is positioned as the sixth safest country in South America in the 2022 Global Peace Index and holds the 79th rank globally. With its diverse landscapes and attractions, Ecuador remains a traveler’s favorite. Visitors should be vigilant about pickpockets and muggings, especially in tourist areas. Female travelers are encouraged to exercise caution, and it’s advisable to book accommodations with positive reviews. Top destinations in Ecuador include the Galapagos Islands, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Quito, and Cascada el Pailón.

4. Paraguay (GPI 1.976)

As of 2022, Paraguay is the fourth safest South American country and ranks 77th worldwide. In urban areas like Asuncion and Ciudad del Este, tourists are advised to keep mobile phones and money hidden, avoid walking alone at night, and prefer taxis for transportation. Paraguay’s attractions include Asunción, Itaipú Dam, Gran Chaco, and La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná.

3. Argentina (GPI 1.911)

Argentina holds the position of the third-safest country in South America and is 69th globally according to the 2022 Global Peace Index. Tourists flock to Argentina for its vibrant culture, food, nightlife, and breathtaking landscapes. Travelers should be aware of distraction theft and pickpockets and keep an eye on government travel advisories for specific safety concerns. Notable destinations include Buenos Aires, Perito Moreno Glacier, Iguazu Falls, Córdoba, and Ushuaia.

2. Chile (GPI 1.84)

Chile, ranking 55th on the 2022 Global Peace Index, is the second safest South American country. Travelers should remain alert, especially in Santiago, due to an increase in muggings, assaults, and carjackings. It’s recommended to avoid unlicensed taxis and keep car doors locked, especially in large cities. Chile’s top destinations include Santiago, Torres del Paine National Park, Chepu Valley, Pucón, Atacama Desert, and Easter Island.

1. Uruguay (GPI 1.795)

Topping the list of the safest South American countries, Uruguay stands at the 46th position out of 163 nations in the 2022 Global Peace Index. In urban areas, visitors should be vigilant against pickpocketing, muggings, and car break-ins, even in smaller towns and beach resorts. Avoid carrying large sums of cash or wearing flashy jewelry, and refrain from walking alone at night. Must-visit destinations in Uruguay include Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio, and Salto.

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