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Top 3 Safest Countries in Central America for Tourists

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


church in san jose, costa rica -  safest countries in central america

I have a distinct memory of myself in elementary school singing a song about the countries in Central America. My 2nd grade Spanish teacher always had these cute songs to help us learn our vocabulary, and I guess it worked because I still remember the melodies at my big age. I don't think I realized as a 2nd grader how much I'd love to travel as an adult, but I used to always think about what it was like in these places we sang about - and now I know!


Unfortunately, Central America has a bad reputation for violent crime. This doesn't change the fact that many people consider traveling here - as they should! Central American history is rich, with each country having a unique landscape and delicious local cuisine. If you're a nature person, you'll fall in love with the lush, floral jungles and their inhabitants that thrive here.


Even still - it's important to make sure you know which countries are the safest to visit based on statistics (as of 2023) before jumping on a plane, so in this blog post outlines the top 3 safest countries to visit in Central America as a tourist.


Blog Contents


 

The Safety Criteria


The countries mentioned in this blog post are considered safe based on the following criteria:


Number of Homicides Per 100,000 people

Political Stability Index

U.S. Travel Advisory Rank


Using these criteria helps keep things simple, factual and without prejudice. Hopefully these numbers help you get a better understanding of the crime rate, political stability and other safety aspect that might change your trip to Central America.


Here are the world averages based on 190+ countries:


Homicides Per 100,000 people: 5.6

Political Stability Index: -.07 (Below Average)


Here are the statistics for the United States:


Homicides Per 100,000 people: 7.8

Political Stability Index: 0 (Average)


 

Panama


streets of panama -  safest countries in central america

Homicides Per 100,000 people: 9.6

Political Stability Index: .29 (Above Average)

U.S. Travel Advisories: Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution


Panamanian people are known for being friendly and welcoming to foreigners. This is partially due to their nature, and a bustling tourist industry focused making the country more comfortable for visitors. The government is above average in stability and has a visible police presence, so you know they're nearby incase of an emergency.


 

Costa Rica


waterfall in costa rica - safest countries in central america

Homicides Per 100,000 people: 12.1

Political Stability Index: .87 (Above Average)

U.S. Travel Advisories: Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution


Costa Rica is known to be a safe, peaceful and calm destination. Their stable political climate, well-developed tourism infrastructure, and focus on environmental conservation has created a country that is welcoming to foreigners and big on outdoor exploration. Some popular areas tourist like to visit are the Manuel Antonio National Park, San Jose, Jaco Beach and la Fortuna (where the Arenal Volcano is).


Join The Travel Tribe for 7 days/6 nights in Costa Rica! More details here.


 

Belize


mayan ruins in belize - safest countries in central america

Homicides Per 100,000 people: 25

Political Stability Index: .46 (Above Average)

U.S. Travel Advisories: Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution


Belize is the only country in Central America with English as the official language. Since this country was colonized by Britain, the English language has circulated the populations for over 400 years. If you speak english, this is good for you. More locals will understand you when speaking. Places like the Mayan ruins, barrier reefs, and lush rainforests are major tourist attractions, so you'll be safer in these areas due to the volume of people around. Ambergris Caye and Placencia are also great spots for the beach lovers. Enjoy a nice dinner on the beach at sunset or be adventurous and try jet-skiing off the coastline.



 

General Safety Tips in Central America


Do your research! - Spend time researching local customs, laws, social standards and recent travel advisories.


Know where you're going! - Stay at a trustworthy, reputable hotel or resort and use transportation services that have positive reviews, contact information, and a physical address.


Stay alert! - Simply be aware of your surroundings, and avoid wearing things like flashy jewelry, name brands, handbags or anything else of high value.


Respect the local culture! - Understand that you're not at home, so things may run differently there! Respect the local customs, traditions, and cultural norms.


 

Which country in Central America is on your travel bucket list?


If you're ready to experience the unique culture of Costa Rica, join us for our 2024 group trip. Talk soon!

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