World's 12 most dangerous places
Government advice site reveals top 12 countries not to visit
Most gap year trips should take in a few places off the beaten track, but this is a bucket list of countries to probably avoid.
The Smartraveller list of the world's most dangerous places reads like a ‘where not to go' travel article, including destinations plagued by war, genocide, terrorism, religious extremism and political turmoil.
The top 12 most dangerous places are, in alphabetical order, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Smartraveller is the website for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and advises travellers and backpackers on the alert status for countries around the world. The advice for these 12 is simple: Do Not Visit.
The Smartraveller website is aimed at Australian outbound travellers. Paula Ganly, DFAT's assistant secretary for consular policy, said it was impossible to provide numbers on how many Australians visited destinations against Smartraveller's advice each year.
News.com.au reported that Ganly as saying: "Smartraveller does not directly monitor Australians' travel abroad. We do have about 500 Australians registered with us as being in one of the countries for which our current overall advice is 'Do Not Travel'.
"Of course, those individuals may have valid reasons for being in those places. Our travel advice is exactly that: advice.
She added: "The decision to travel is a personal responsibility and Australians are responsible for their own safety."
More than 94,000 Australians registered their travel plans with Smartraveller last month and 417,000 people visited the website to view travel advice. Smartraveller also has 80,000 subscribers who receive automatic email notifications when the advice for their countries of interest is updated.
While avoiding the world's most dangerous places would be advisable for gap year backpackers, some highly adventurous travellers decide to not follow government advice and explore these countries anyway. Recently backpacker Tom Lee travelled to Libya at the height of the Gaddafi civil war.
His experience of being an amateur photojournalist in a conflict zone is incredibly engaging. But was Tom reckless and irresponsible, or simply embracing the new frontier of travelling? Read our Q&A with him and come to your own conclusion.
Our advice at gapyear.com is to always avoid unnecessary risks, and make your gap year experience as safe as possible. If you are a British traveller, you should always check with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for current advice before you travel.
Would you ever travel to the world's 12 most dangerous places? Have you already been? Are backpackers that visit those countries adventurous or stupid?
Photo by Tom Lee, Libya, 2011