From Forbes.com. Hopefully your summer plans don't include any of these "dead-stinations."
If the presence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda aren't enough to deter people from visiting Afghanistan, there are an estimated 5 million to 7 million landmines scattered around the countryside. Food shortages are prevalent; infrastructure is basically nonexistent; and bombings in Kabul, especially around the U.S. Embassy, are commonplace. Great deals on carpets are sure to be found, though.
The U.S. State Department cautions that Americans should not travel to Chechnya and its surrounding areas, and if they do, they should "depart immediately." The latest large-scale uprising by Chechen rebels was the October 2002 takeover of a Moscow theater, in which 129 hostages and 50 gunmen were killed. Kidnappings in the Caucasus by local crime gangs are common. The State Department warns: "U.S. citizens have disappeared in Chechnya and remain unaccounted for."
Travelers to Colombia can take their pick from an embarrassment of risks: kidnapping, domestic airline hijacking, robbery and murder are all possibilities. This is a country where it's de rigueur for wealthy citizens to employ an army of Uzi-wielding bodyguards and ride in bomb-proofed SUVs. According to the U.S. State Department, there is a greater risk of being kidnapped in Colombia than in any other country in the world. In 2002, more than 3,000 people were reported kidnapped throughout Colombia. In the past two years, 18 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country.
Although the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is over and a cease-fire is in effect, the country remains volatile. Last April, six members of the Red Cross were murdered. In May, rebels kidnapped more than 20 people working at a Thai logging company. Sporadic fighting with Rwandan and Burundian rebels along the Congo borders continues to occur. Armed robbery, carjacking and assault are everyday occurrences.
Since September 2000, there have been more than 70 Palestinian suicide bomb attacks aimed at Israelis. The West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem remain the most dangerous areas. Travelers should avoid large crowds, buses, shopping areas, restaurants, clubs and cafes -- which doesn't leave much that could be considered safe.
The government is totalitarian, the people are starving and the hotels are terrible -- who would want to go to North Korea? On top of all that, there's a simmering nuclear crisis. While Americans can travel there with a visa, be warned: There is no U.S. Consulate and the laws are strict. Foreigners can be arrested for shopping at "nontourist" stores, and it's a crime to show disrespect to North Korea's current and former leaders, Kim Jung-Il and Kim Il-Sung.
One of the most gruesome -- and visible -- displays of the dangers in Pakistan was the 2002 kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Foreigners, especially Christians, continue to be targeted there. Churchgoers in an Islamabad Protestant church have been attacked, as have several people in a Christian hospital in Taxila. The U.S. Consulate in Karachi is closed indefinitely, and the State Department warns Americans to leave.
Although cannibalism is still practiced in Papua New Guinea, being eaten is one of the least likely threats to visitors. Violent crime is more of a worry, much of it attributed to local gangs known as "rascals." Law enforcement is inadequate; there are only 4,800 cops for a population of nearly 4 million. The State Department advises visitors to ask the hotel concierge for metal pipes, which can be placed inside windows to block entry from an intruder. The scuba diving in Papua New Guinea, however, is superb.
Torn by civil war for years, Yemen has become even more dangerous lately. The most notable incidents were the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the 1998 kidnapping of 16 Western tourists and the murder of three American missionaries last December. In October 2002, the French oil tanker Limburg was set ablaze, killing one sailor. The most common threats to travelers are kidnapping and carjacking, although petty crime is low. Tribal kidnappings are normally resolved within a few days.
Tajikistan (personally, I won't be traveling to any "-stan")