The safest south American country for travel destinations and exceptional vacations.
The 2016 Global Peace Index ranks Central and South America as the first- and second-best regions in the world for security.
We’re talking a whole continent and then a few, and like anywhere in the world, the level of security can vary depending on where you are.
For example, El Salvador and Honduras still have some of the highest homicide rates in the world, according to the World Bank Group.
On the other hand, many countries in Latin America get high marks for safety, and (bonus) are also beautiful, culture-rich destinations.
Examples: We’ve hand-picked these eight as our top choices for a safe vacation in Latin America.
Aside from being safer than some of their neighbors in Latin America, our destinations are not necessarily as safe as other destinations around the world when it comes to crime numbers. Regardless of where you might book, however, the same precautions apply for a hassle-free vacation:
Stay in resort or tourist areas.
Find out from the hotel staff where to go and how to get there and where not to go.
Don’t wear flashy, expensive jewelry or designer accessories.
Be smarter, be aware of your surroundings.
Check the US Department of State’s Travel Advisories and Alerts before you book and again just before you leave.
Table of Contents
Galapagos Islands, one of the safest south American country
It’s located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos group of islands is one of the safest areas in Central and South America, attracting many families even with young children. Some visitors even report feeling transported back to prehistoric times, which is perhaps unsurprising since Charles Darwin had long believed that after visiting the Galapagos Islands he should write ‘On the Origin of Species’.
Nature lovers and photo enthusiasts flock here to see endemic biodiversity including (but not limited to) sea lions, iguanas, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and the only surviving species of tropical penguins. The vast majority of the area is a national park.
Safty: Although Ecuador as a country, especially in the northern region, has seen a rise in crime in recent years, the Galapagos Islands are almost crime-free, according to the OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council) . And despite the rise in crime in the country, the Global Peace Index still ranks Ecuador the fourth safest country in South America when it comes to domestic and international civil unrest. These include factors such as terrorism, protests and civil unrest. There are also no travel advisories or U.S. State Department alerts for the Galapagos Islands at this time.
Costa Rica, safest south American country
Costa Rica is another destination for nature lovers. It became much more popular in the last decade as US travelers have discovered the scenery, pristine beaches and the fact that it’s not as far as they thought. A flight from New York City takes just under five hours, a little less than a flight from the same airport to California . Touring the rainforests of Costa Rica is a vacation highlight for many as monkeys, jaguars, toucans and other wildlife to see. The landscape is strikingly diverse, from these beaches and rainforests to volcanoes and waterfalls.
Safty: Costa Rica is currently the safest country in Central America by the Global Peace Index . And violent crime is rarely an issue for visitors; According to OSAC ‘s 2016 Crime and Safety Report, the bulk of crime against tourists is theft, as in any other tourist location. According to the same report, the homicide rate may have risen slightly above the rate of 10 per 100,000 people (which is considered typical for the region by the World Health Organization ), but there are currently no travel advisories or alerts for US travelers visiting Costa Rica.
Chile, one of the safest south American country
Exotic, teeming with opportunities for outdoor adventure, prosperity and safety: when it comes to countries, Chile has a little bit of everything.
And that makes sense considering its span; it is almost 2,800 miles long, with the Pacific Ocean as its western border, the Andes to the east, Peru to the north, and Antarctica to the south. Where else can you visit the driest place on earth (Atacama Desert) while also photographing glaciers, climbing volcanoes, snowboarding, soaking up the sun in a chic beach resort and some of the most interesting hiking trails in the same place?
As if all that weren’t overwhelming enough, Easter Island with its mysterious Moai also belongs to Chile. Of course, you can’t see everything in one visit or even two. A good starting point for beginners is Santiago , the capital and largest city of Chile. Skiing is an hour away; the Pacific is two hours away; and right in Santiago you have museums, concert halls, high-end shopping (as well as opportunities to buy handcrafted goods), and colonial architecture. When planning your trip, keep in mind that summer in Chile runs from December to March.
Safty: Chile ranks the safest country in South America by the Global Peace Index and there are currently no travel advisories or alerts for Chile from the US Department of State. According to OSAC , “Chile’s security environment is moderately secure, with comparatively less violent crime than other Latin American countries,” and the World Bank database states that the country has a fairly consistent homicide rate of about three per 100,000 people, which is by global standards extremely low.
Argentina, one of the safest south American country
Argentina is the second largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the world. Because of its size and location, it offers many landscapes, including ice and snow in Glacier National Park and a red rock desert in Talampaya National Park. However, one of the most beautiful attractions are the Iguazu Falls.
Buenos Aires , the city of tango, is highly ranked among visitors to Latin America, especially for its shopping and festivals. (Malevo, the male group that won tap dancing in gaucho boots and twirling boléadoras on “America’s Got Talent,” is from Buenos Aires. Just say.) In the southernmost areas, penguins is not a zoo, but more naturally in theirs Habitat next to the sea lion colonies. Riding across vast expanses is a thing here, too, but some travelers leave with a fond memory of a different kind: the excellent wine and steaks.
Safty: Argentina is ranked the third safest country in South America by the Global Peace Index and there are currently no travel advisories or State Department alerts issued for the country. Argentina has seven deaths per 100,000 people, according to the World Bank database . Additionally , OSAC reports that “Crimes reported to the U.S. Embassy by U.S. citizens are the most common victims of theft or nonviolent robbery, especially in the tourist areas. “Regarding terrorism, the same reports state: “There is no recent or significant operational terrorist activity in Argentina.”
Peru, south American country
The beauty of its beaches and the colourful, unique handicrafts and fabrics are just the beginning of the list of why you would visit Peru ; The country is an archaeological jackpot for anyone interested in ancient cultures. Visit the city of Cusco to see ruins from the Inca Empire and the Spanish conquest. Peru also has the mother of all ruins at Machu Picchu, the fortified Inca city that the invading Spaniards could never find, perched high in the Andes. Limais a sprawling, modern city where you can surf the rocky coastline, play golf in the financial district, tour a pre-Columbian temple in the prestigious Miraflores neighborhood, and take in a sound-and-light show in a cluster of outdoor fountains. Then you should try Peru’s most famous dish, ceviche, and wash it down with a pisco sour at one of the best cevicherias.
Safty: Loud World Bank Database Peru had a very low homicide rate (below seven in 100,000 people in 2013) and most OSAC reports state that crimes against foreigners are even lower and usually involve theft. The State Department has not issued any travel advisories or alerts for Peru, and Peru ranks fairly high on the Global Peace Index ‘s list of safe places .
Belize, safe south American country
Less than 9,000 square miles, this tiny country in Central America is tucked beneath Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula , one of the closest Latin American countries to the U.S. The country’s tourism market has grown exponentially, with many high-end, family resorts show up. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second length, just up to the Great Barrier Reef.
While stunning for snorkelers and divers, Belize also has a rainforest where the nature lover can explore the Mayan ruins. The upscale Ambergris Caye draws most tourists, from serious deep-sea fishermen to couples looking to lounge poolside with cocktails.
Safty: There are currently no travel advisories or alerts for Belize. However , the UK government recommends that tourists avoid certain parts of Belize City , including George Street and Kraal Road, which are known to attract gang crime at night, which is why Belize’s homicide rate is a relatively high 45 per 100,000 people. However, these homicides rarely involve foreigners, according to OSAC , which not only reports that “major crimes at popular tourist destinations (including the Mayan ruins) remain low,” but also that the terrorism threat is low.
Uruguay, safe south American country
The smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America is also one of the safest and least-known countries. Away from the crowds of neighboring Brazil , Uruguay has beaches, resorts and adventure to rival its Latin American neighbors. Popular recreational activities include hot air balloon rides, fishing and boating. The wine here is excellent and marijuana is legal for citizens. (Visitors are barred from purchase, for the record.) If you love a tropical beach vibe with friendly locals but hate the usual crowds, this is the place for you.
Safty: There are currently no travel advisories or alerts for Uruguay, and it’s ranked the second safest country in South America by the Global Peace Index. According to OSAC , crimes against foreigners are mostly nonviolent theft. The homicide rate is 7.1 per 100,000.
Paraguay, safe south American country
Under the radar, landlocked Paraguay has scenic landscapes, waterfalls, natural lakes and rivers. In the capital of Asunción, next to the Paraguay River, you should visit the train museum of the oldest railway station in South America, Museo Ferroviario. It is a storied reminder of the illustrious past of rail travel in Latin America, complete with handwritten logs. Nearby is the grand López Palace, Paraguay’s version of the White House.
Panteon Nacional de los Heroes is another impressive building, mausoleum and memorial to the country’s soldiers. Paraguay can be a real bargain provided you travel with American dollars. And you may be the only person in your circle who was there.
Safty: There are currently no travel advisories or alerts for Paraguay from the US Department of State, and it’s ranked the fifth safest country in South America by the Global Peace Index . Paraguay has a low homicide rate of less than nine per 100,000 people (from a peak of 24 in 2002).
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