The first question on every traveller's mind is safety, and this especially applies to Africa. This is because most of the global media representations are about bad things like war, hunger, and bad political institutions.
This is why many people will ask whether Africa or a certain African country is safe to visit.
Introduction & Basis
Why use the Global Peace Index (GPI)
Safety and security are always changing, and relative. By following the results of the Global peace index, we used a standardized set of data applied to all countries of the world.
The GPI research, therefore, gives us an unbiased set of data that is based on similar standards for every country surveyed.
While the Global Peace Index rankings are the best piece of data available, it has its shortcomings too, especially when you consider that safety and peacefulness can be further broken down into regions of a country, or even sections of a single metropolitan area.
If you are interested in a particular country, you should dig further because we'll try to keep the descriptions short enough to highlight the attractions and general state of safety.
Summary of Safest Countries in Africa according to GPI 2020
|1. Mauritius||14. Eswatini||27. Uganda||40. Eritrea|
|2. Botswana||15. Rwanda||28. Djibouti||41. Niger|
|3. Ghana||16. Morocco||29. Algeria||42. Cameroon|
|4. Zambia||17. Guinea||30. Mauritania||43. Mali|
|5. Sierra Leone||18. Angola||31. Burkina Faso||44. Nigeria|
|6. Senegal||19. Tunisia||32. South Africa||45. Sudan|
|7. Tanzania||20. Gabon||33. Congo (Brazaville)||46. the Central African Republic|
|8. Namibia||21. Lesotho||34. Kenya||47. D.R. Congo|
|9. Liberia||22. Mozambique||35. Egypt||48. Libya|
|10. Malawi||23. Guinea-Bissau||36. Zimbabwe||49. Somalia|
|11. Equatorial Guinea||24. Cote d'Ivoire||37. Burundi||50. South Sudan|
|12. The Gambia||25. Benin||38. Ethiopia|
|13. Madagascar||26. Togo||39. Chad|
According to the GPI data;
- The safest country in Africa is Mauritius. Followed by Botswana, Ghana, and Zambia.
- The least safe African country is South Sudan, just behind Somalia and Libya.
Important Reminder: We have to state that safety and security are situations that are often changing and can get extremely specific (and localized).
With that in mind, your specific interests and goals of travel should be a big factor in your decision.
Safety Ranking Criteria
The method of determining a country's peacefulness is based on scores from 23 indicators. Here are a few of the factors.
- Level of violent crime
- impact of terrorism
- political instability
- number of refugees and displaced persons as a percentage of the population
- relations with neighbouring countries
- level of perceived criminality in society
The ranking indicators determine whether it is safe for people to live and work peacefully in any given country but rating the above indicators, and more.
Safest Countries in Africa
The safest country in Africa is Mauritius, found in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is a popular destination because of its pristine beaches, clear blue ocean, and beautiful island landscapes.
This attracts holidaymakers from all over the world who want to enjoy the beauty Mauritius has to offer. Globally, Mauritius is the 25th safest country according to the Global Peace Index statistics.
The second safest African country to live and travel in is Botswana in Southern Africa. Botswana is one of the most well-known African safari destinations for wildlife such as elephants, lions, rhino, hippos, buffaloes, and countless bird species.
Among Botswana's iconic attractions is the Okavango Delta as well as the Kalahari desert.
Related article: Things to see and do in Botswana
Ghana is well known for Gold, Cocoa, and the vibrant entertainment industry, as well as a culture that dates back centuries ago. While Ghana might not shine in wildlife tourism like Botswana or Kenya, its beaches, national parks, and rich culture make for a wonderful time.
Globally, Ghana ranks as number 43, right below the United Kingdom.
Related article: Ghana visa requirements & exemptions for tourists
Zambia is another one of the most popular safari destinations in Southern Africa. From the magnificent Victoria falls to an abundance of wildlife and rich culture, Zambia is one visited for elephants, lions, hippos, leopards, rhinos, crocodiles and so much more.
To seasoned Safari goers, Zambia is known as the place for the walking safari. From 2019, Zambia's global rank of peacefulness has increased by 5 positions.
Related article: Top 15 places to visit in Zambia
5. Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is located in western Africa and boasts of beautiful beaches on the Atlantic as well as a tropical interior with hills, forests, lagoons, and a variety of animals and colourful birds.
From hiking the hills, relaxing at the beaches, or enjoying the history and culture, Sierra Leone is one of the underappreciated destinations in Africa.
Senegal is Africa's 'western most' country by location on the Atlantic Ocean. Senegal is well known for its beautiful beaches, forests, and animal sanctuaries as well as the rich diverse culture.
In Senegal, being hospitable is part of the identity. The local word for hospitality is 'Teranaga' after which the national team is named - The Lions of Teranga.
From 2019 to 2020, Senegal's Global Peace index ranking has improved by 7 positions.
Tanzania is home to Africa's tallest mountain, the great plains of Serengeti, and the magical beaches of Zanzibar. Tanzania boasts of a wide variety of wildlife, history, and culture to keep your mind excited.
Tanzania's Serengeti and Ngorongoro are very popular for wildlife experiences to see lions, elephants, wildebeest migration, zebras, birds, hippos, and much more.
Tanzania is the place you go when you want to see thousands of wild animals at every turn.
Related article: Places to visit in Tanzania
Namibia is one of the popular destinations in Southern Africa. From the massive sand dunes of Sossusvlei to the rich wildlife of Etosha, Namibia is a very unique place to travel to.
Namibia has a good political history and is very stable and safe for everyone. More than 1 million people visit Nambia for the sites, quaint towns, vast desert, wildlife, and culture. There is so much to do and enjoy in Nambia.
Related article: 17 places to visit in Nambia
Established for freed American slaves, Liberia is a wonderful country with a beautiful Atlantic coastline, rich heritage, and vibrant contemporary culture.
Civil wars in the 1990s and early 2000s made stunted Liberia's tourism potential, but the country is now on an upward trajectory.
Malawi is nestled between Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique in southern East Africa. Lake Malawi is the biggest physical feature that covers more than a quarter of the country.
The shores of Lake Malawi are an important centre for the economy and inland beach getaways. In the national park and game reserves of Malawi, visitors can see many animals including elephants, hippos, antelopes, lions, rhinos, leopards, and hundreds of bird species.
Malawi is nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa" because of its friendly people, and visitors always feel very welcome.
11. Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is located on the western coast of Central Africa and consists of insular and mainland regions. While the tourism industry is underdeveloped, Equatorial Guinea has tropical rain forests that host primates, birds as well as beautiful coastal shores.
Equatorial Guinea is a great destination for someone seeking to explore the path less trodden.
Of all African countries, Equatorial guinea has made the biggest improvement in peacefulness from 2019 to 2020. Its global ranking has improved by 10 positions.
12. The Gambia
The Gambia is the smallest country on the African continent and is almost completely surrounded by Senegal, except for its coastline on the Atlantic. Tourism is among the major sectors of the Gambian economy and people from all parts of the world visit the Gambia.
Whether you want the land-based tours or the river trips, you will enjoy exploring nature, relaxing, and immersing yourself in the rich culture. Gambia's rich history dates back to the first days of the slave trade.
Madagascar is one of the world's most ecologically diverse countries. There are hundreds of animals and plants in Madagascar that are not known anywhere else in the whole world. Over 90% of Madagascar's wildlife is not found in any other part of the world.
While Madagascar's tourism isn't as developed as fellow Indian ocean islands of Seychelles and Mauritius, its potential in terms of wildlife, landscape and culture make for a great place to visit.
Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland is the smallest country in Southern Africa. Despite the country's small size, Eswatini has surprisingly diverse ecosystems for both plants and animals.
The main tourism activity in Eswatini is their rich cultural heritage which has positioned them as a true African monarchy. Apart from the culture, visitors can also enjoy wildlife experiences of the big-5 animals, as well as adventure activities like ziplining.
Rwanda's violent history is now a thing of the past and it is now known as one of Africa's model nations in terms of safety and rapid development. Rwanda is among the fastest-growing tourism destinations and many visitors come for gorillas, wildlife, and the vibrant arts and culture in Kigali.
According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) data, Rwanda's Global ranking has improved by 4 positions in the year from 2019 to 2020.
Related article: Places to visit in Rwanda
Morocco's location in North Africa makes it a very important tourist destination for the Mediterranean coast, rich culture, and history.
With the extremely popular holiday and culture cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca, and Fez, Morocco's culture - both contemporary and heritage attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. Aside from the culture and incredible dishes, Morocco has many hiking spots and the desert tours are an experience like no other.
Related article: Top places to visit in Morocco
Guinea has a very diverse geography that offers fascinating tourist sites with lots of waterfalls and wildlife, sandy beaches, and so much more. The Loos Islands are very popular as a good weekend escape for people who enjoy forests, the beach, and some history.
Given that the tourism industry in Guinea is not very developed, it makes a great destination for someone who prefers an off-the-beaten-track experience of culture and diversity.
Guinea's global ranking has improved by 7 positions between 2019 and 2020 which means the country is progressive becoming safer to live, work and travel in.
Following the end of the civil war that lasted until 2002, Angola has emerged as a stable country with one of the fastest growth rates. While 27 years of the civil war slowed down the development of the tourism sector.
Angola's tourism is based on natural beauty such as rivers, waterfalls, and the Atlantic coastline. Much of Angola remains unexplored, and this could offer a perfect adventure experience for the curious explorer.
In some areas where landmines from the civil war haven't been fully cleared, you will not be allowed access, so it is advised to go with a local professional who knows every little detail.
Tunisia has historically been one of the most visited countries in Africa because of its Mediterranean coast, rich history, and great sightseeing opportunities. Tunisia has bounced back from the events of the 2011 revolution and 2015 terror attacks and is seeing growing numbers of tourists.
Many people come to Tunisia for the beaches, old towns, vast desert, and rich culture. Tunisia's 2011 revolution led to many new freedoms for women.
Related article: Is Tunisia safe for travellers?
As a country whose Tourism industry is underdeveloped, Gabon has many attractions, from the coastal beaches with hippos to the thick forests where lowland gorillas live.
With 13 national parks, Gabon is a great destination for someone who wants the non 'touristy' areas, with the great diversity of nature, and animals. Gabon is peaceful and stable and the only thing to be warned about is the petty crime - which you can avoid with some caution.
Known as the kingdom in the sky, all of Lesotho lies 1,388 meters above sea level. Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa and yet has managed to stay a very safe place from the troubles of its neighbor South Africa.
Lesotho provides off-the-beaten-track experiences for hiking, skiing, culture, and magnificent views of the high landscape. The waterfalls and natural ponds are a favorite of many visitors.
Mozambique is well known for its beautiful Indian Ocean beaches and archipelagos that offer great and quiet getaways from busy life. Mozambique is an infusion of Asian, Indian, African, and European cultures over several centuries.
Whether you want the intimate and isolated beaches of the north or the rich culture in Maputo, Mozambique is worth a visit.
Guinea Bissau has an undeveloped tourism sector despite its massive potential. Most visitors go to the Bijagos Archipelago for the white sandy beaches, birds, saltwater hippos, marine turtles as well as the adventure of island hopping.
Since 2005 Guinea Bissau has enjoyed a very stable political state. From 2019 to 2020, the Global Peace Index research indicates an improvement by 9 ranking positions for Guinea Bissau.
24. Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Wildlife, culture, and the Atlantic Ocean coastline attract visitors to Cote d'Ivoire. You will be able to see chimpanzees, crocodiles as well as some exotic bird species.
Ivory Coast has a rich culture that dates back centuries, but you will also be able to enjoy shopping some local curios and trying the Ivorian dishes.
Despite some history with political unrest, Ivory Coast is safe, and you are only advised to be slightly more cautious in the big towns and cities where petty crime could happen.
Benin has one of the richest African cultures in west Africa due to the ruins and remains of the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey. In Benin, Vodun (voodoo) is actively practiced and recognized, a cultural experience that surprises many visitors.
With Wildlife such as elephants, hippos, lions, and more, Wildlife experiences supplement the culture of Benin very well.
While Benin's tourist industry is not very developed, there is plenty to explore - especially if the idea of the path less taken excites you.
Togo is a narrow country located between Ghana and Benin. Togo's unique landscape, cultural heritage, and beautiful beaches attract more visitors year after year.
The national parks and landscape in the north offer good opportunities for seeing wildlife and hiking.
As a small country with diverse cultures, you will find that the people are warm and friendly in all parts of Togo.
Uganda is among the most unique of all of Africa's destinations because it offers the classic East African wildlife and the rare jungle primates of Central Africa - such as gorillas. Sir Winston Churchill called Uganda the Pearl of Africa, and the natural beauty, as well as the welcoming people, live up to the nickname.
Most visitors to Uganda enjoy seeing mountain gorillas, chimps, and a lot of savannah wildlife for the classic African wilderness feeling. Ugandans are very warm people and you will enjoy meeting different people from all parts of the country.
Related article: Things to see and do in Uganda
Djibouti is located in the horn of Africa and has a coastline on the red sea and Gulf of Aden. Djibouti's tourism is on a rise and attracts people who want to experience the local culture as well as the vast array of marine activities on the shore such as scuba diving.
Lake Abbe and Lake Assal are Djibouti's most visited attractions. Lake Assal in Djibouti is Africa's lowest point at 157 meters below sea level. This attracts many curious minds to the area.
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa and its main attractions are based around history, culture, and the Sahara desert. Algeria has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites from various periods in history.
Much of Algeria's tourism happens closer to the Mediterranean coast where most attractions and people are.
You are advised against areas near the borders and south deep into the desert because of the risk of kidnapping and terrorism.
Mauritania is located in northwest Africa and well known for its rich history that goes back to the 7th century. Old towns such as Chinguetti were important centers of the trans-Sahara trade and attract many people. Their ancient libraries are portals into the past.
Since about 90% of Mauritania is covered by the Sahara desert, the country is also good for desert activities like camel rides, camping, and 'skiing' down sand dunes.
While Mauritania's history hasn't been the most peaceful, Global Peace Index numbers show a steady improvement.
31. Burkina Faso
The name Burkina Faso can be translated to mean "land of the honest men", and has for long been known for its friendly people and general peacefulness. In recent years the threat of terrorism has led the government of Burkina Faso to maintain a state of emergency in part of the country.
Burkina Faso's rich heritage can be explored by visiting the many old towns, museums, grand mosques, and stone carvings. Visitors can also enjoy seeing some animals like elephants, lions, leopards, dwarf buffalo, and more.
Since there is active extremist activity, we advise using a local travel operator and staying in the safer parts of the country.
32. South Africa
South Africa is a very popular tourist destination and boasts one of the most well-developed tourism sectors in Africa. South Africa has a rich history as well as stunning natural landscapes and multi-cultural cities that attract people from all parts of the world.
South Africa's low-income areas have very high crime rates and tourists are advised to be cautious. Most of the Tourist attractions are however in safe places where you won't have many troubles moving around on your own.
Related article: South Africa visa requirements
33. Congo (Brazzaville)
The Republic of Congo (Not to be confused with D.R.C), often referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, is one of the most overlooked gems in Africa, when it comes to tourist attractions.
From the rich local cultures to the wild areas of thick forest, open swamps and hundreds of animals Congo has so much for its visitors. The biggest concern in Congo is petty crime, but occasionally violent crime does happen.
According to the US department of state, you should exercise increased caution.
Kenya is among the most well-known and visited safari destinations in Africa because of its wildlife, scenery, urban culture, and Indian ocean beaches.
Popularly recognized as the home of the African safari, many people visit Kenya to see animals such as elephants, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, lions, hippos, leopards, rhinos, and hundreds of birds.
Some areas in northern and eastern Kenya have high crime rates and a high likeliness of terrorism because of the proximity to unstable borders with Ethiopia and Somalia. These areas are far from the tourist attraction you will be visiting for wildlife and culture.
Related article: Best places to visit in Kenya
Egypt is probably the oldest travel destination to attract the attention of people from distant parts of the world. The rich history of Egyptian pharaohs and their pyramids attracts millions who want to walk in the ancient feeling of 5000 years ago.
Aside from the pyramids and rich cultural monuments, Egypt's towns are buzzing with culture and the beaches are perfect for cooling off and scuba diving to explore the seas.
Egypt is recovering well from the events of the Arab Spring and you will be safe in most areas, except for some border areas. You are unlikely to go there anyway.
Related article: 12 places to visit in Egypt
Zimbabwe is more popular for its political past, but it really is the "Jewel of Africa" when it comes to travel interests. From Victoria Falls to the several national parks, Zimbabwe is perfect for wildlife safaris, as well as the extreme adventures of victoria falls.
Related article: 12 places to visit in Zimbabwe.
Burundi is one of the less explored countries in East Africa, and yet it is neighbored by top destinations such as Rwanda and Tanzania. While Burundi's past has been one of civil unrest, the warm and welcoming nature of the people will make anyone come back.
In Burundi, you can visit national parks for animals, including chimps as well as relax on the beaches of Lake Tanganyika.
Ethiopia has a rich history that compares with that of ancient Egypt. Ethiopia's history is however even much less understood by the world, and that adds to the curious fascination.
From the rock-hewn churches, and many other world heritage sites, Ethiopia is one of the less explored gems of the African continent. While Ethiopia has recovered from its unpopular past, there are some internal divisions along tribal lines.
Related article: Is Ethiopia safe for tourists
Chad is a landlocked country surrounded by countries that are undergoing political turmoil, and it is always likely that conflict can spill over. Border areas are especially considered very risky.
The tourism industry in Chad is very undeveloped, and most of the international visitors come to Zakouma National Park. Chad's desert and oases are picturesque and if it was safe, the northern part would be the extreme getaway from the 21st century.
The tourism industry in Eritrea is underdeveloped because of a bad history of political instability and poverty. Visitors to Eritrea come for historical sites, some with libraries that are more than 800 years old.
Besides the culture and heritage, Eritrea's coast is attractive for activities like diving and scuba diving. The interior has beautiful landscapes that are home to hundreds of birds and animals.
The tourism industry in Niger is relatively underdeveloped and the major attractions are the Sahara desert in the north, some areas along River Niger, and the rich history that dates back millennia.
The continued activities of Islamist insurgents and Boko haram have made Niger very unstable. The likelihood of violent crime is high in some areas and all visitors are advised to take extreme caution.
Cameroon can be called "Africa in miniature", and when it comes to its attractions, the diversity is fascinating. With both French and English dominant areas, deserts, rainforests, mountains, beaches, and more than 200 subcultures, there is so much Cameroon for everyone.
Whether you want the openness of the deserts, the animals of the savannah, or the primates in the rain forests, Cameroon quite literally has all of Africa within a small package.
The activity of the Boko haram terrorists are the biggest threat in Cameroon to locals, and foreigners alike.
Before 2012, Mali had enjoyed a long period of peace and stability that had seen many visitors come to discover the impressive history and culture. Places like Timbuktu, Djenne, and the natural landscapes used to attract many tourists.
Mali has been characterized by political unrest, and the northern regions are a common group for terror and extremist groups. The volatile situation is why many governments advise against all travel to Mali.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy and is very well known for the big movie and music industry. This makes Nigeria perfect for a trip about culture and arts.
Aside from the cultural aspects, you can also visit Nigeria's parks and forests where you can enjoy hikes in nature, camping and so much more.
Since the rise of the Boko haram militants, big parts of Nigeria are not very safe to travel to, especially towards the north. The southern areas and other big cities can however still be visited without worry.
Sudan's cultural heritage is closely related to that of earlier Egypt and does actually have more than 100 pyramids and ancient ruins. Sudan's political situation has been characterized by political and civil unrest, and this has limited its tourism industry.
According to the US Department of state, the risk for crime, kidnapping, civil unrest, and armed conflict is high. The diverse landscapes and rich heritage is often enjoyed by a significantly lower number of people than it deserves.
46. Central African Republic
Central African Republic is located in the middle of DRC, Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, and Chad. The country has been characterized by civil unrest for decades, from political overthrows to civil wars.
The tourism industry is very underdeveloped and very few foreigners visit the Central African Republic. The country is however blessed with unexplored forests and savannahs that have lots of wild animals such as lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, and even lowland gorillas.
47. Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo's popularity is in the aspects of rebels, militias, and civil unrest. The DRC's tourism industry is underdeveloped in most of the country and this is largely due to the political situation.
DR Congo is however among the most naturally blessed countries in Africa, from the minerals to the forests, rivers, deltas, gorillas, active volcanoes, and the unique culture.
While certain parts of Congo are risky to visit, there are some relatively safe places that seasoned adventurists have already been exploring.
Since 2011, Libya has gone through political instability not ever experienced over its long history. The once-flourishing oil nation is now volatile and highly risky for anyone - citizen or foreigner.
While Libya is slowly coming out of the political unrest, things like violent extremist activity and an armed conflict between opposing groups could easily happen.
This has made it hard for many tourists to come and enjoy the Mediterranean beaches, the rich history that dates back to the Greeks and Romans, as well as the vibrant culture of the big cities.
Somalia has been faced with civil and military unrest since the early 1990s, and this has destroyed all the tourism and national infrastructure. The activities of the Al Shabaab have made travel to Somalia one of the toughest endeavors.
Somalia does however have a beautiful seacoast with beaches - that no longer buzz with life and happy families.
50. South Sudan
South Sudan is the least safe of all surveyed African countries. The ongoing civil unrest makes a visit to South Sudan a risky endeavor.
The tourism industry is almost nonexistent and good accommodation can be expected in a few of the urban areas.
Aside from the new nation's troubles, South Sudan's Nimule National Park is a wonderful and unspoiled wilderness with animal migrations close to those of the Serengeti.
It is important that we mention, once again that the safety of any place is always changing, and data and statistics can only go so far in giving the full picture.
This is true in all countries around the world. Our advice is that you keep checking for updates especially after you have narrowed it down to a certain country or region.
The linked articles are better resources for looking deeper at whether one country is safe to visit or not.
Finally, without extending this long article any further, we would like to ask a favor. Help us make the content you want by telling us which country you would be most interested in visiting first? and what your focus would be. Use the feedback form, and we'll be happy to get your response.
Thanks and cheers!