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The Trans-Gambia Highway: Integration or Isolation?

By Sanna Camara

Jonathan Power: Where To Go on Holiday.... Travel Tips from a "Mad Dad"

My eighteen-year-old daughter asked me recently about where she can safely travel when she finishes school in June and starts a three-month holiday before going to university in September. “The Muslim countries or Japan,” I replied. She was quite taken aback. At school her friends talk about the United States, Australia, Thailand, or South America. But I emphatically said, “no, I don't want you to go there,” and then explained why her mother and I felt so strongly. I pulled out the figures from the new 2009 United Nations World Development Report, which compares murder rates from all the countries.  Every country—apart from those in the European Union—measure rape, theft, break-ins, and other crimes in different ways. Some figures are accurate, some seem like they've been drawn out of a hat. But most countries report their murder rate pretty accurately. There may be under-counting  in places with civil strive, as in Sri Lanka, where murder and the killings of war can blur into each other. Yet, even in most difficult cases, like Russia, press reports can help balance the official figures. To cut a long story short, I would gladly let her go to Egypt, which has the world's lowest murder rate—at 0.4 per 100,000 population, although Japan  closely follows at 0.5. Other Muslim, mainly Arab, countries follow next, all with less than 1 murder per 100,000 people: the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai and Oman at 0.6;  Saudi Arabia at 0.9; Bahrain at 1; and Jordan at 0.9. Indonesia, with all its political troubles, has but 1.1 murders per 100,000 citizens. Outside the Arab countries, the Scandinavian countries are the safest. Norway and Denmark come in at 0.8 and Iceland at 1. Sweden breaks the Scandinavian success rate with a poor 2.4, but in Europe, Holland and Ireland score well too. So, daughter: there's the list that I approve—and that your mother has been persuaded to approve. Ironically, for us, many of countries with high murder rates are of a Christian heritage—the United States at 5.6 murders per 100,000; Mexico at 13; Russia at 19.9; South Africa at 47.5; and Colombia at a staggering 62.7. We can put India on the positive side of the ledger: it's a big, very diverse country, and parts of it, like West Bengal and its capital, Calcutta, are very safe despite its rating of 3.7 murders per 100,000 population. You might argue that I've underestimated, bent, or stretched the statistics—everyone knows there have been many killings of tourists in Egypt—because I'm not including terrorist killings. Egypt although, I admit, has real risks. So let's strike that out. (It reminds me of Northern Ireland during the "troubles," when it had the lowest crime rate in Europe but the fighting was pretty horrendous.) Your “mad dad” has been to them all, I know, but journalists are stupid and take too many risks.

FALL FUNDRAISER

 

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