Africa is the second-largest continent and second-most-populous continent on Earth. Africa spans over 11.6 million mi² (30 million km²) and has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. Africa comprises 54 countries fully recognized by the United Nations, two independent states (Western Sahara and Somaliland) with little-to-no recognition, and nearly a dozen small, mostly island territories controlled by France, Spain, and other non-African countries.
Africa is the poorest continent on Earth and includes a number of in-development countries and countries ruled by extremist regimes. All of these factors contribute to the fact that some African countries are much safer to visit than others. Africa was also slow to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted the U.S. Department of State's travel advisory for many African countries. Most African countries, however, had recovered by late 2022 and regained their pre-COVID advisory levels.
The Global Peace Index
The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an annual report that measures and ranks the peacefulness of 163 countries to determine the world's most peaceful countries. The GPI is published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which measures 23 indicators of peace, which are grouped into three categories: Ongoing International and Domestic Conflict, Societal Safety and Security, and Militarization. Example indicators include the number and duration of internal conflicts, relationships with neighboring countries, political instability, the level of violent crimes, and the level of perceived criminality in society. Each indicator's results are then merged to create a single unified GPI value for each country. The lower the GPI score, the more peaceful—and by extension, the safer—the country is considered to be.
Top 10 Safest Countries in Africa (2022 GPI):
- Mauritius — 1.570
- Ghana — 1.759
- Gambia — 1.792
- Botswana — 1.801
- Sierra Leone — 1.803
- Zambia — 1.841
- Equatorial Guinea — 1.8638
- Malawi — 1.895
- Namibia — 1.908
- Senegal — 1.916
How safe is Mauritius? 1.570
The safest country in Africa, Mauritius also ranked as the 28th-safest country in the world in 2022. Mauritius is a multicultural island nation that is family-friendly and secure. Mauritius is a haven for tourists, with attractions that include beaches and lagoons, reef dives, water activities, the "seven-colored earth" of the Chamarel, and lush forests filled with wildlife. Mauritius has a very low crime rate overall and what little crime does occur tends to be non-violent, such as petty theft. Mauritius struggled to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the U.S. Department of State to issue Mauritius a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) advisory, but that advisory had returned to Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions) by fall of 2022.
How safe is Ghana? 1.759
Ghana is the second-safest country in Africa for 2022 and sits at position 40 on the Global Peace Index. Although Ghana fell five positions between 2018 and 2019, it has rebounded since and is now considered to be safer than several popular travel destinations, including France, Greece, Jamaica, Argentina, South Korea, and the United States. Ghana offers a wide range of attractions, from wildlife viewing and safaris to sun-soaked beaches and on to vibrant nightlife and cultural attractions. As of late 2022, Ghana had a Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State due to crime and unrest in certain specific parts of the country.
How safe is Gambia? 1.792
The Gambia ranked as the 45th-safest country in the world for 2022. Leisure tourism is a huge part of the economy of the Gambia, which is known for its mix of "sun, sand, sea, nature, and varied cultural experience." The U.S. Department of State awarded Gambia a Level 1 (normal precautions) Travel Advisory as of late 2022, while noting the border with Senegal may require a small degree of increased caution thanks to some lingering land mines from the Casamance conflict.
How safe is Botswana? 1.801
Botswana is 2022's fourth-safest African country. Ranked at position 48 on the GPI, Botswana is a popular tourist destination thanks to attractions that include Chobe National Park, game reserves, and the Tsolido World Heritage site. As of April 2022, Botswana had a Level 1 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State in late 2022, having largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
How safe is Sierra Leone? 1.803
Sierra Leone is a coastal nation in West Africa, known for its vast and numerous beaches, as well as its rainforests and wildlife preserves. The country has a GPI ranking of 50th in the world for 2022. While Sierra Leone is traditionally safe to visit, local police often lack the training and capacity to respond effectively to violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery (which occur most often in Freetown), and civil unrest can provoke demonstrations and protests that are best avoided. The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) advisory for Sierra Leone that remained in effect as of late 2022.
How safe is Zambia? 1.841
The sixth-safest country in Africa in 2022, Zambia is also the 56th-safest in the world. The country itself is landlocked, but gifted with spectacular waterfalls, rivers, and lakes, as well as vast open spaces and abundant wildlife, and is a top safari destination. As of late 2022, the U.S. Department of State had assigned Zambia a Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions) travel advisory, noting that the US government considers Zambia even safer than some countries that ranked above it.
How safe is Equatorial Guinea? 1.863
One of Equatorial Guinea's greatest tourist attractions is Monte Alen National Park, a 2000 km² preserve filled with rain forest flora, lakes and waterfalls, and wildlife ranging from gorillas to elephants. Equatorial Guinea ranked 59th in the world on the 2022 GPI and, as of late 2022, earned a Level 1 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State.
How safe is Malawi? 1.895
Malawi, 2022's eighth-safest African country, posted a GPI ranking of 66, placing the country between France (65) and Cyprus (67). Malawi ranked in the top 10 of travel site Lonely Planet's Top Ten Countries list for 2022, thanks to the country's mix of "lake, landscape, wildlife, and culture." Crime in Malawi is generally low, with purse-snatching and petty thefts being the largest threats. As of late 2022, Malawi enjoyed a Level 2 travel advisory (Exercise Increased Caution) from the U.S. Department of State, which noted a rise in crimes including theft, armed robbery, and carjacking, with police resources stretched thin at times.
How safe is Namibia? 1.908
Namibia landed in the 68th position in the 2022 Global Peace Index, and boasts some of the most rugged and picturesque landscapes (and wildlife viewing) in Africa. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a vast, scenic desert on the other, Namibia's attractions include scenic beaches and mountains, towering sand dunes perfect for sunrise photos, some of the world's least light-polluted skies (for stargazing), and ample opportunities to view giraffes, lions, rhinos, and more. As of late 2022, the United States Department of State had granted Namibia a Level 1 travel advisory.
How safe is Senegal? 1.916
Senegal was the sixth-safest country in Africa in 2021 (54 on the Global Peace Index), and slid only slightly to 10th and 70th respectively in 2022. However, it could very well climb higher up the top ten in 2023, given that the country enjoyed only a Level 1 travel advisory from the US state Department as of late 2022. Like the Gambia, Senegal has lingering concerns about land mines (and crime) in the Casamance region, but is quite safe overall. Admired for its mix of scenic beaches and forests, animal sanctuaries, and archaeological attractions, Senegal has relatively low levels of crime and disease and its people are known for being generous hosts.
Former safest African countries:
Tanzania's 2021 GPI of 1.892 earned it the title of seventh-safest country in Africa and 58th-safest in the world for 2021. The country's 2022 GPI rose to 2.001, which placed it 86th in the world and 19th in Africa. This was due in part to the country's struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which also prompted the US Department of State to issue a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Tanzania. Fortunately, by late 2022 the country had regained its traditional Level 2 travel advisory (due to the potential of crime, terrorism in the Mtwara region, and targeting of LGBTI persons), which likely foreshadows a return to the "Safest Countries in Africa" list. Tanzania’s most popular attraction is the Serengeti Plains, which offers tourists a potentially unforgettable safari experience.