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## Is South America Safe to Travel in 2019?

As the global travel landscape continues to evolve, safety remains a top concern for travelers worldwide. South America, with its diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and rich history, has long been a popular destination for adventure seekers and tourists alike. However, concerns about safety can often linger in the minds of potential travelers. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current safety situation in South America in 2019, addressing common concerns and offering tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

### Overall Safety Situation

South America is a vast and diverse continent with varying levels of safety depending on the specific country, region, and time of year. While some areas may experience higher crime rates, others are generally considered safe for travelers. According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, the following countries rank among the safest in South America:

* **Chile**
* **Uruguay**
* **Argentina**
* **Colombia**
* **Ecuador**

It is important to note that even within these countries, certain cities and neighborhoods may have higher crime rates than others. For example, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is known for its high rates of violent crime, particularly in certain favelas (slums). It is crucial to research your destination thoroughly and be aware of any potential risks before traveling.

### Common Safety Concerns

**Petty Crime**

As in many popular tourist destinations, petty crime such as pickpocketing, muggings, and theft from hotel rooms is a common occurrence in South America. To minimize the risk of falling victim to petty crime, tourists are advised to:

* Be aware of their surroundings and keep valuables out of sight.
* Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
* Be cautious in crowded areas, such as bus terminals and market places.
* Store valuables in a money belt or secure pocket.
* Report any incidents of crime to the local authorities promptly.

**Violent Crime**

Violent crime, including armed robbery, assault, and homicide, is a more serious concern in some areas of South America. While most tourists are unlikely to experience violent crime, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions.

* Avoid walking alone at night, especially in poorly lit areas.
* Use reputable transportation services, such as taxis or organized tours.
* Stay informed about potential crime hotspots and avoid visiting these areas.
* Be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging currency.
* Trust your instincts and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

### Tips for Safe Travel

In addition to the general safety precautions mentioned above, travelers can follow these specific tips to further enhance their safety in South America:

* **Respect Local Customs:** Learn about local customs and etiquette to avoid cultural misunderstandings or unintentionally causing offense.
* **Learn Basic Spanish:** Speaking even a few basic Spanish phrases can improve communication and help you connect with locals.
* **Purchase Travel Insurance:** Travel insurance provides peace of mind and coverage for unexpected events, including lost baggage, medical emergencies, and trip cancellations.
* **Stay Informed:** Monitor travel advisories and news reports for information about potential safety concerns in your destination.
* **Trust Your Judgement:** If a situation feels unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from it.
* **Be Aware of Your Surroundings:** Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of suspicious individuals or activities.
* **Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption:** Alcohol can impair judgment and make you more vulnerable to crime.
* **Use Safe Transportation:** Only use licensed and reputable transportation services. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in isolated areas.

### Areas to Avoid

While most of South America is generally safe for travel, certain areas are best avoided due to higher crime rates or political instability. Some of the areas to avoid in 2019 include:

* **Certain neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil**
* **Comuna 13 in MedellĂ­n, Colombia**
* **Tijuana, Mexico**
* **Venezuela**

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and travelers should always research their destination thoroughly before making any decisions.

### Conclusion

While it is impossible to guarantee complete safety in any travel destination, South America offers a rich and rewarding travel experience for those who take necessary precautions. By being aware of potential risks, following safety tips, and respecting local customs, travelers can significantly reduce their chances of experiencing crime or other safety concerns. With careful planning and a positive attitude, visitors can embrace the vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes, and unforgettable adventures that South America has to offer.

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