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Chechnya's seen more than her fair share of problems
Chechnya's seen more than her fair share of problems

World's worst holiday spots

Friday, September 26, 2008

By Joshua Crouthamel
MSN NZ Travel writer

With plenty of talk about the world's 'best' beaches, 'most fabulous' cities, 'number one' destinations and 'premiere' places to holiday, I got to thinking ... where, actually, would be the worst place for me to spend my hard-earned annual leave?

A look at statistics, online travel forums and a peek at the news has led me to compile the following list. I'd say 'see you there!', but I think for both our sakes we're better off staying home this vacation.

Republic of Sierra Leone

This West African country has been plagued by foreign invaders, deep-seeded corruption and years of civil war. Once the heart of the transatlantic slave trade, the shocking history of the place in has been documented in films such as Blood Diamond and Amistad, but they fail to even scratch the surface of the hardship faced in Sierra Leone. Today the country has been disgraced with the world's lowest human development index ranking — a measure of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and GDP per capita.

Flipside: cheap diamonds, great football team and cool national flag?

Republic of the Congo

When coup d'états and assassinations occur weekly, you don't know whether you'll be reporting to a private militia or newly-arrived invading troops. Which makes it kinda hard to develop the infrastructure for a booming tourist trade. It also doesn't help to advertise that hotels and the international airport are some of the most dangerous places in all of the Congo. I think I'll keep from bedding down in Brazzaville indefinitely.

Flipside: gorilla spotting, balmy weather and lack of expats?

Republic of Niger

If you're looking for a temperate climate and ocean breezes, steer clear of Niger. Most of the country has been subsumed into the inhospitable Sahara Desert, and devastating droughts have left agriculturalists with sand between their fingers. And though half the population is under the age of 15, the country has the highest infant mortality rate in the world.

Flipside: awesome sand dunes, combination of French colonial and Islamic cultures and desert oases?

Belarus

Something amiss in Minsk? Talk about an understatement. The country lost a third of its population and half of its economic resources in WWII. And if that wasn't enough, 70 percent of the radiation fallout from the Chernobyl disaster in neighbouring Ukraine spilled over Belarus, leaving a fifth of its total land today unsafe. I tend to try and avoid radioactive hot spots on my hols — don't know about you.

Flipside: ancient castles and churches, mysterious beauty and value for the Belarusian rouble?

Timber Creek, NT, Australia

About a three-hour drive from Katherine lies Timber Creek — a 'town' that, as far as I can tell, sports two petrol stations (next door to one another) and a handful of trees. But just keep driving — Timber Creek bears a striking resemblance to Wolf Creek; you won't want to spend a night here, let alone an entire week!

Flipside: choice of petrol stations and proximity to Victoria River?

Newark, NJ, US

While it's just five miles from Manhattan, you'll feel a world away from Carrie Bradshaw and her crew when you find yourself in dismal Newark, New Jersey. Dubbed 'the most dangerous city in America' for two years running in the '90s, it's estimated that the murder rate has dropped in recent years due to the thick haze of pollution keeping would-be attackers indoors.

Flipside: gateway to NYC and tax-free shopping?

Republic of Iraq

Known as the cradle of civilisation and the birthplace of writing, Iraq has had a hard row to hoe in recent years. Now dubbed 'the world's second most unstable country' (after Sudan), Iraq's fate is now in the hands of the United States Government. The US far prefers Iraq's other notable second — as the country with the second largest supply of oil reserves (after Saudi Arabia).

Flipside: amazing history and not a lot of other tourists?

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Poor Afghanistan. This landlocked desert country smack-dab in the middle of Asia has a colourful history dating back thousands of years, but brutal civil wars have torn the nation to pieces since the late '70s. Currently two-thirds of the population live on less than US$2 a day, and even if you get a travel visa you are strongly advised to have an armed guard by your side 24/7.

Flipside: natural beauty, friendly people and spring equinox festival?

Union of Myanmar (Burma)

Burma has borne quite a burden in recent years. The crippling hands of a military junta has squashed political dissenters arguing for freedom, and Mother Nature has been just as harsh on the Burmese, throwing cyclones and tsunamis their way as well. But it is where the majority of the world's heroin comes from, so junkies on a junket could possibly pass a week's hols in a haze.

Flipside: lovely locals, temples of Bagan and dilapidated colonial seaside resorts?

The Chechen Republic

If widespread lawlessness and ethnic cleansing aren't enough to keep you away from Chechnya, perhaps this warning from Human Rights Watch director Holly Cartner will: "If you are detained in Chechnya, you face a real and immediate risk of torture. And there is little chance that your torturer will be held accountable." Eek!

Flipside: eerie backdrop and a sense of Renaissance?

Republic of Haiti

Haiti's legacy as the first postcolonial independent black-led nation in the world was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. Unfortunately since that time, a succession dictators and dishonest politicos have ensured the place is the least developed country in the Americas and is home to private militias and terrorist death squads.

Flipside: voodoo priestesses, colonial-era hotels and a tropical paradise?

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

According to Amnesty International, North Korea has the worst human rights record of any nation — a distinction not to be taken lightly, considering the other front runners on this list. About one in 100 North Koreans have reported torture, starvation, rape, medical experimentation, forced labour and forced abortions in detention camps. And as it's impossible to travel the country without a government minder (or two), you'll find it difficult to really get inside North Korea.

Flipside: mass games and Kim Jong Il cult worship?

Central African Republic (CAR)

Though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, you'll have to budget substantially for bribes when holidaying in the CAR. That said, Lonely Planet advises that "unless you are mugged often you should be able to get by on less than US$100 ($117) a day."

Flipside: pristine forests and tropical climate?

Georgia

Though breathtakingly beautiful, Georgia might best be avoided just about now. About 68,000 ethnic Georgians are believed to have fled from their homes in August 2008 alone, and though Russia has called a temporary ceasefire, one can never be too sure when it comes to the Ruskies.

Flipside: stunning mountain scenery, ancient villages and a hotchpotch of cultures?

Have your say: what do you think? Do you agree with the above? Where are the world's worst holiday destinations?

User comments
NZ is one of the most beautiful country in the world and Im sticking to it.I have traveled and work in many parts of the world and there's no place like NZ.Home is where the heart is.people like shalend.auckland complaining about NZ,hey only 8 words for you *** Off Back To Where You Come From.We dont need your kind in Aotearoa if you dont appreciate the Beauty of it.There is crime in every country.
Afghanistan was a great country before the Russian Invasion in the 70s. Foreign interference has messed up the country. As a native Afghan it would take another 100 years to heal the wounds of the Afghan nation. There has been so much suffering. Remember sucide bombers are taking revenge as they are normally people whose families lye beneath the invaders feet. The best place to go Afghanistan is to go to the north and central parts. This where you won't find Ethnic Pashtoon whome the Talibans have came from. Central and Norther and northwester part of the country are mainly occupied by Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbek who love westerners and are no risk to Tourist. Never go to the South and south east where you will be kidnapped and killed by the pashtoon Talibans.
Somalia seems an obvious omission... (The movie Black Hawk Down demonstrates the ultimate travellers mis-adventure gone horribly wrong, and, as usual, involving over-paid over-teched American 'tourists'..) Somalia, as I understand it, has not had a government for nearly 20 years (imagine the customs procedures at Mogadishu Int. Airport!), and the most common occupation, as listed on the national census (if there was one..), is, I believe, "pirate". But apart from this, the only difference between a Gold Coast beach and a Somali one would be rows of hijacked, beached freighters & their crews in shackles and gags. Anyone for volleyball..?
Afganistan may be beautiful but when u compare it to india it stand no where, in terms of safety, beauty and it could be anything. i have visited afganistan just a week and it scared the *** out of me.........near a town i could hear fring for the whole night and next mornng i came to know that a clash happend between localities and american army. but the food was lovely and i enjoyed it , actually that wasonly part where i was not scared. never go to afganistan, atleast for a few years guys its very risky....so dont step-up n afganistan......
wow i wouldnt want to go to timber creek, aussie. has anyone seen wolf creek? far out. its stoped me from staying in motels in the middle of no-where when we take road trips. i was somewhre in the middle of no-where in new zealand, seriously no civilisation, barey a road, then appears a petrol station and a motel. we stopped off to get a drink, and the old men stared at us and started something, we just ran in the car, and i put my foot down on it. i was scared! wolf creek isnt just a movie, its based on a real life situation... so haters hateing this comment, *** about another one please. honestly, its pathetic. i know its going to happen, christ.
I visited Afghanistan in 2008 to see my parents who are working there. I was amazed at how friendly the people were and the beuty of the country. Compared to India I actually felt much safer and less of an object to be oogled at or walking ATM. Sure you have to watch yourself and cover your head and be careful, but you can still get out and see parts of the country and actually get to know the people. Book a tour from a company within Afghanistan and be careful but don't write it off if you're in that part of the world. Its an amazing country to visit.
i have to agree totally with s, auckland - wikipedia, while informative, can also be heavily biased towards popular opinions... sj, christchurch please do yourself a favour and research things a little more than just quote wikipedia. Don't take this as a personal attack, but it makes me angry when half truths are taken as gospel because they have been on this site. Don't believe me? Have a look at the entries for David Dockerfeller and JP Morgan, then do a little digging courtesy of google... The real truth is out there, just don't expect the "masses" or mainstream media to divulge everything to you... On topic (sort of...), all these countries are on this list because of an elite few that let greed get in the way of basic human rights. Start with the 2 names above, and work from there. Diamonds, minerals, oil, all more valuable than human lives. Pretty damn sad really
anyplace could be the worst place even if ur not on holiday, it cud b our home. there is no worst place,only wicked people. i believe that the so called worst places are beautiful. there is still a depth of love and perfection especially to the community striving to live in these places.
I'm astounded south Auckland and Flaxmere didn't make it to the list. Manchester UK on a Friday and Saturday night must also be up there. Great list, good to get a different view on travel.
I don't think Afghanistan should be considered dangerous, its depends which part of Afghanistan you wish to visit? Not the the fighting zone? hell no! its a fact, people are friendly, natural beauty, great food etc. I believe if you keep a low profile when you go out, have the area knowledge and a bit of language would definitely help and will surely keep you safe. In fact having an armed body guard will worsen the chance of being safe. Instead you should dress like Afghans and have fun. Talking about unpredicted stuff? The first things that scares me to death is suicide bombing, f**n hell, you dont know where it blows and thats something that you cannot predict. Secondly, it depends on which part of Afghanistan you travel? namely if you like to travel to Kandahar city, and other south east cities then its obvious you won't come alive. Yes, people are dangerous, its a fighting zone . Even being my self an Afghan scared to travel to those cities. Keep safe mate!

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