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 (and sometimes still do) 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 heightened threat of terrorist attacks and violent crimes in the U.S., among other things:
- Avoid areas where protests are occurring due to the potential for unrest and violence. Monitor the media for information and updates. Follow the instructions of local authorities, including by obeying any curfews.
- The US has a heightened risk of terrorist attacks. Terrorists may use vehicles, knives, homemade bombs, and poisons or toxins. Be alert, particularly in public places and at events.
- Violent crime is more common than in Australia and gun crime is possible in all areas. Follow local guidance and instructions. If you live in the US, learn active shooter drills.
- Thieves target travellers. Take care on public transport. Don’t leave valuables in your rental car.
- Extreme weather and natural hazards include earthquakes and tsunamis, wildfires, hurricanes and floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and blizzards. Monitor weather conditions and follow any mandatory evacuation orders.
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 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.”
China’s government website warns its citizens that, “Affected by bilateral relations and the new corona virus epidemic, hatred against China in the United States has increased, and unfriendly words and deeds against Chinese. People in the society need to be highly vigilant.” In addition, “…demonstrations have occurred in many places in the United States recently. In some places, there have been situations such as beating, smashing, looting and confrontation between the police and the people, and social security has deteriorated.”
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”.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns about the measures to target immigrants include, “authorisation for police officers to detain people they suspect of being in the US illegally.”
“Although some of the measures are being contested in the courts, it is important that you have your documents available for scrutiny if you’re asked by law enforcement officials to present them wherever you are in the United States,”
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.”
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 personally think about any of 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 it’s 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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