According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Global Study on Homicide 2019, 464,000 people were murdered in 2017—more than five times as many as were killed in armed conflicts during the same period.
The report explains that many socioeconomic factors can drive homicide rates. These factors include gender stereotypes, social inequality, unemployment, political instability, firearms possession (just over half of all homicides are committed via firearms) ... and especially gangs, organized crime, and the drug trade.
In fact, the report estimates that "an average of roughly 65,000 killings every year were related to organized crime and gangs over the period 2000–2017, and that up to 19% of all homicides recorded globally in 2017 were related to organized crime and gangs."
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Murder Rates (per 100k people) in 2017:*
- El Salvador (61.7)
- Honduras (41.0)
- Venezuela (49.9)
- United States Virgin Islands (49.3 [2012 data])
- Jamaica (56.4)
- Lesotho (43.6 [[2016 data]] per 100k people)
- Belize (37.8)
- Saint Vincent And The Grenadines (36.5 [2016 data])
- Saint Kitts And Nevis (36.1 [2012 data])
- South Africa (35.7)
*Scroll down for a fully updated and ranked list of every country with available murder rate data.
While 2017's global murder rate was 6.1 (per 100k people), murder rates varied widely across the globe.
Central America and the Caribbean were global hotspots, with countries such as El Salvador (61.7), Honduras (41), and Jamaica (56.4) posting murder rates up to 10 times higher than the global average. The South American countries Brazil (30.8), Venezuela (49.9), and Colombia (25) followed close behind. Even with the rest of South America and North America posting lower rates, the overall average for the Americas as a whole rose to 17.2.
Africa's rate came in at 13.0, but with the major caveat that "the raw statistics for many countries are not available." Similarly, Oceania posted an impressive rate of 2.8, but official homicide reports "tend to deviate substantially from information on violence contained in hospital records," suggesting that many homicides may be going unreported to the police.
Factors known to contribute to lower murder rates and decreased crime overall include the wealth of a nation, the effectiveness of its law enforcement, the availability of weapons (especially firearms), and the severity of punishment for committing murder. For instance, Japan is a fairly wealthy nation with very strict regulations regarding gun possession and murder is punishable by hanging.
Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Murder Rates (per 100k people) in 2017:
- Japan (0.2)
- Singapore (0.2)
- Hong Kong (China) (0.3)
- Luxembourg (0.3)
- Indonesia (0.4)
- Norway (0.5)
- Oman (0.5)
- Switzerland (0.5)
- United Arab Emirates (0.5)
- China (0.6)
Below is a list of each country's homicide rate (number of murders per 100,000 people). Note that accidental deaths and cases of "self-inflicted murder", more commonly called suicide, are not included in these statistics.