Is Brazil Safe To Live? A Local Weighs In

Is Brazil Safe To Live?

Brazil is a country much celebrated for its natural beauty and rich culture, including delicious cuisine and excellent football players. Unfortunately, the country is not only known for things and is often in the news linked to the crime. This raises the following question: Is Brazil a safe country to live in?

As a general rule, Brazil is a dangerous place to live, especially if compared with developed countries. Brazil has cities with some of the higher murder rates on earth. However, Brazil’s bad reputation comes from some specific regions and cities, while most of the country Is safe, especially in the South region.

Truth is that Brazil is a gigantic country and there are good and bad places, like anywhere else in the world. The problem is that in Brazil, dangerous places are really bad. If you intend to live around here, avoiding the most dangerous cities and using some “Brazilian Wisdom” from this article you’ll keep you safe from 90% of the problems.

Is Brazil Safe To Live? 3 Tips From A Local

As a whole, Brazil ends up being considered dangerous because some specific regions and cities have astronomical levels of crime, which raises the country’s position in the crime rankings. But If we look at the indices in the state of São Paulo and the South region, you’ll see that the reality in Brazil is not as bad as it seems. In some cases, the levels are equal to or better than that of developed cities.

However, we can’t pretend that there’s no crime in the country. There is a lot of it. That’s why in Brazil knowing how to behave can literally save your life. So, carefully check out the tips listed below and use them with care in all your travels.

1) North and Northeast Are The Dangerous Regions To Live

Most cities in Brazil are safe, with good HDI levels and good quality of life. Unfortunately, there are some regions and cities in the country that elevates considerably criminality numbers. Of the 20 most violent cities in Brazil, 18 are in the North and Northeast regions. It can sound like I’m prejudging some cities, but that’s not the case, it’s just the reality.

Every year the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) provides a report about criminality in Brazil called Atlas of Violence. The last edition of the paper shows there was an increase in the number of violent deaths in the North and Northeast regions. According to the institute, the result is a consequence of the war on drug trafficking, the route of the flow of drugs, and the illicit market for wood and mahogany in rural areas.

This doesn’t mean that all cities in these regions are dangerous. Most people are honest and some of the most beautiful beaches in the country are in these regions. But in recent years the situation of crime in these regions has been favored, mainly due to the wars between criminal factions. If you are looking for a quieter place to live, it may be best to avoid these regions (or at least the most violent cities, the list is at the end in the next section).

2) There Are Places Where You Not Supposed To Go

This is probably the most important thing to know before traveling or living in Brazil: there are some places in the country where you not supposed to go. Period. The best example for this is the “favelas”, more famous in Rio de Janeiro but present pretty much in all the big cities in Brazil on a smaller scale. These places tend to be “parallel states”, where law and order are determined by the crime bosses, not the government.

Most of the people living in the slums are great, honest hardworking people trying to make a better life. Unfortunately, as the state failed to give them safety, their hands are tied against the criminals. One shocking example of this happened a week ago in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, when a photographer, Thiago Freitas de Souza, 32, was shot to death after asking traffickers who lived near his home to turn the volume down a bit so his 5-year-old daughter could sleep.

As said before, these areas are present in different cities and you’re not supposed to go there without express authorization at the risk of being shot at. If you’re really curious and want to visit a favela, or need to visit a friend over there, never do it by yourself. Ask for the company of a local that knows how to handle the situation. In Rio, some licensed guides can do this kind of tour.

3) In Brazil, You Need To Stay Sharp

There is a very common saying here in Brazil that says the following: “O Brasil Não é Para Amadores” (Brazil Is Not For Amateurs). And this is an absolute truth in the form of a joke. Here from an early age, people learn to behave in an always attentive way, analyzing around for suspicious behavior and predicting situations that can get ugly very quickly.

It is not paranoia, most of the time it is done unconsciously, but living here, after a while you can practically feel the tension in the air. To be honest, this has freed me from a lot of bad situations outside the country, especially in Miami where I was able to notice a strange climate and leave the place with my wife before the criminals could catch us. Prevention is always better than conflict.

A funny example of how Brazilians are always sharp is a famous meme in Brazil called “2 Caras Numa Moto” (2 guys on a motorcycle). This became a meme because in Brazil 2 guys on a motorcycle usually mean trouble. That’s their way to rob, steal and flee quickly. People are well aware of it and every time you see 2 dudes on one bike it’s probably better to run. Just watch the following video and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about 🙂

10 Most Dangerous Cities In Brazil

According to data from Ipea published in the last edition of the Atlas of Violence, the 10 most violent cities in Brazil based on the number of homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants are:

CityStateHomicides per 100K
MaracanaúCeará145,7
AltamiraPará133,7
São Gonçalo do AmaranteRio Grande do Norte131,2
Simões FilhoBahia119,9
QueimadosRio de Janeiro115,6
AlvoradaRio Grande do Sul112,6
MaritubaPará101,6
Porto SeguroBahia100,1
Lauro de FreitasBahia99
CamaçariBahia98,1

10 Most Dangerous States in Brazil

According to the latest edition of the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security, the homicide rates for every 100,000 residents are listed below in order from highest to lowest in ten Brazilian states. So check out the ten most dangerous Brazilian states.

StateHomicides per 100K
Amapá49,1
Sergipe42,1
Rio Grande do Norte40,7
Pará40,5
Bahia39,2
Pernambuco36,3
Roraima35
Rio de Janeiro34,6
Alagoas34,2
Acre33,6

10 Safest Cities in Brazil

Of the top 10 safest cities in Brazil, 8 are located in the state of São Paulo and the other two are located in the state of Santa Catarina (which is one of the most beautiful and safe to visit in Brazil).

CityStateHomicides per 100K
JaúSão Paulo2,7
IndaiatubaSão Paulo3,5
ValinhosSão Paulo4,7
Jaraguá do SulSanta Catarina5,5
BrusqueSanta Catarina5,8
JundiaíSão Paulo6,1
LimeiraSão Paulo7,7
AmericanaSão Paulo7,7
Bragança PaulistaSão Paulo7,7
SantosSão Paulo7,8

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