The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories to United States citizens when they feel people could potentially be in a dangerous situation should they visit the said area(s). In fact, in 2018, they revamped how they gave advisories, so they could be more realistic. They then updated the update in 2019, so their warnings could be even more specific per country.
All that being said, one thing we, as Americans, rarely hear about when it comes to travel advisories and the safety recommendations the governments of other countries make about us. Obviously, many of them did warn their citizens about COVID and our response to it, especially in the first year of the pandemic. But even with that set aside, other places caution their citizens about visiting the United States. Stuff like this…
The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade tells its citizens that there’s a higher threat of terrorist attacks and violent crimes in the U.S., among other things:
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and protests are occurring due to the potential for unrest and violence. Monitor media for information and updates. Follow the instructions of local authorities and abide by any curfews in place.
- Violent crime is more common than in Australia. Gun crime is also prevalent. If you live in the US, learn and practice active shooter drills.
- There is a persistent and heightened threat of terrorist attacks and mass casualty violence in the US. Be alert, particularly in public places and at events.
- Severe weather and natural hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, avalanches, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and floods. Monitor weather conditions and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Austria warns its citizens traveling to the U.S. that crime, especially pickpocketing, is generally higher in larger cities and recommends not to resist a robbery due to the likelihood of guns. They also suggest that medical costs are extraordinarily high in the U.S., so having travel insurance is very strongly recommended.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an ongoing advisory a few years ago for all Bahamians, but, “In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution…in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”
The Canadian government warns of violent crimes, credit card fraud, terrorism, demonstrations, gun violence, and home break-ins. “Canadians living in holiday homes have been the victims of break-ins and burglary,” says the Canadian government’s official travel website. “Whether you are staying in either private or commercial accommodations, make sure you lock windows and doors securely at night and when you are away.”I
In the summer of 2023, the Canadian government also cautioned that LGBTQIA+ Canadians may be affected by a series of recently enacted state laws that restrict transgender and gay people.
“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” the notice reads. “Check relevant state and local laws.” (The beginning of the Canadian government’s acronym, “2S,” represents two-spirit, an Indigenous term for someone with a masculine and a feminine spirit.)
Relations between the U.S. and China has been spiraling downward for some time now. Several publications, including Bloomberg, reported in summer of 2023 that Beijing’s foreign ministry warned, “Chinese nationals who travel to the US should be more vigilant, and beware of falling into US snares and arrest-entrapment.” Beijing has regularly reminded its citizens of gun and racial violence in the US, but it is rare that they’ve explicitly pointed out the danger of arbitrary detention.
Denmark warns its citizens that there is a risk of terror, shootings an natural disasters in the U.S.
- There is a medium risk of terrorism in the United States.
- Street crime, such as pickpocketing, bag and trick theft, occurs especially in big cities and where there are many people. Be especially careful if you use public transport.
- They also warn about break-ins of rented cars, being aware of substances that could be added to drinks in bars, credit card fraud, staying away from riots and demonstrations.
France’s government tells its citizens, among other things, that breastfeeding in public may be shocking in some places.
France also warns its citizens about high prices for medical care in the U.S. and urges travelers to buy special health and repatriation insurance before visiting.
Among other advisories about political demonstrations and increased risk of politically motivated violence, the German government warns its citizens that, “Terrorist attacks have been carried out repeatedly in the USA in recent years,” and “the U.S. government points out the possibility of further attacks and calls for extra caution.” They recommend people, “be especially vigilant in busy places”.
The Italian government has typical warnings that other countries offer. However they also have specific warnings about the increase of wild fires on the west coast (due to global warming), red tides on the west and southeast coasts (also in relation to global warming), and fraud committed against travelers.
Although a close ally of the U.S. (even with now requiring us to have visas to enter), Japan has described the US as a “gun society” in some online notices. One particular message, signed by Japan’s Consulate General in Detroit in 2019, warned Japanese citizens to be aware of potential gun violence “everywhere” in the US.
Although color coded as a “green” (read: generally safe”) country to visit, The Netherlands warns its citizens about several potential safety hazards regarding terrorism, gun usage, terrorism and natural disasters. They also say that, “Demonstrations against racism and police brutality can occur in many large cities. Violence may be used in these demonstrations. Avoid demonstrations and gatherings where many people gather.”
safetravel.govt.nz suggests exercising increased caution in the U.S. due to the threat of terrorism and active shooters.
The United States remains a target of terrorist interest, both from international terror groups and from domestic-based extremists. Credible information assessed by US authorities indicates that individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Attacks could be indiscriminate including places visited by foreigners.
Spain cautions travelers of the perils of specific cities within the U.S. Some examples include:
- Boston: Beware of youth gangs
- Chicago: Avoid the south and west sides of the city
- Los Angeles: The east side of Downtown has become a dangerous area
- San Francisco: Car theft throughout the city
Uruguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has cited, “indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population” in the US as a reason to be cautious. It also warned travelers from Uruguay to “take precautions against growing indiscriminate violence” in the form of “hate crimes, including racism and discrimination.”
Amnesty International says…
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights. Their latest report on the United States (2022/2023) says:
The USA re-engaged with international human rights institutions when the UN CERD Committee reviewed it for the first time since 2014. In its concluding observations, the Committee commented upon the lack of progress by the USA on several issues, including the prevalence of hate crimes, gun violence, excessive use of force by law enforcement and violence against women. Courts limited human rights protections by striking down abortion rights and gun regulations and preventing the administration from ending exclusions of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border.
So there you go. Regardless of what we think of the United States, other countries are well aware of the very real problems we have with domestic terrorism, racism, gun safety, violent crimes, theft, global warming, medical costs, young Black men’s interactions with the police, how we treat people seeking asylum, and even our (*cough*) puritanical opinions about some modern topics.
What you or I think about these things doesn’t matter. It’s a shame we’re so far gone that other countries are warning their citizens about us. I think this is a very poor reflection on our so-called title of “best country in the world.”
***Many thanks to Evelyn V. for her help!
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