The most common type of violent crime is murder. Whether murder is self-inflicted, homicidal, or accidental, murder rates around the world vary significantly by country.
Several factors contribute to lower murder rates and overall crime rates. These include the wealth of a nation, effective law enforcement, strict weapons regulations, severity of punishments for committing murder, and more.
According to the United Nations Global Study on Homicide 2019, some drivers of homicide are organized crime, gender stereotypes, inequality, unemployment, political instability, firearms, and drugs. By identifying these, countries can adopt policies that will indirectly help reduce their homicide rates.
According to the UN's Global Study on Homicide, 464,000 people died from violent crimes in 2017, more than armed combat and terrorism combined. The report states that countries with high firearm rates tend to have higher intentional homicide rates. According to the report, "since the start of the twenty-first century, organized crime has resulted in roughly the same number of killings as all armed conflicts across the world combined. It is estimated 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 per cent of all homicides recorded globally in 2017 were related to organized crime and gangs."
There are several countries, however, that have exceptionally low homicide rates. The ten countries with the lowest murder rates are:
- Japan (0.2)
- Singapore (0.2)
- China, Hong Kong (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)
A majority of the countries with the lowest homicide rates are located in Asia. Japan, which has the lowest murder rate in the world of 0.2 per 100,000, has stringent weapons regulations. Obtaining a firearm involves a very lengthy application process, and murder is punishable by hanging.
The countries with the highest murder rates per 100,000 people are El Salvador (82.84), Honduras (56.52), and Venezuela (56.33). The prevalence of gangs in El Salvador and Honduras contributes to their high murder rates, among other factors. Corruption of Venezuelan authorities, poor gun control, and a flawed justice system has led to the country's high murder rates, despite a private gun ownership ban in 2012.
Below is a list of each country's homicide rate (number of murders per 100,000 people).