In this article, we’ll take a look at the 25 Most Unfriendly Countries in the World. For a quick overview of the top ten, head over to the 10 Most Unfriendly Countries in the World.
The world can be a wonderful place, full of opportunities for discovering unique cultures, fascinating histories, and charming landscapes. However, our experiences across different countries can swing from warm, friendly encounters to feeling somewhat unwelcome.
This doesn’t mean a country inherently harbors unfriendly citizens. The concept of friendliness is subjective, which can be a blend of cultural misunderstandings, historical context, and personal bias.
For instance, certain traditions or communication styles may appear unfriendly to outsiders, but they might be social norms for locals. In Nordic countries like Finland and Demark, people value personal space and privacy, but tourists may see it as unfriendly behavior.
The Happiest Countries in the World report confirms this cultural conflict, showing that Nordic countries top the charts in terms of citizen happiness. But they may not always rank high on the expat’s friendliness scale. When it comes to the most visited countries in the world, France, Spain, Mexico, and Türkiye seem to top the results.
Friendless and Tourism Industry
Tourism is considered the backbone of many economies around the globe. The direct contributions to a nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through visitor expenditures on accommodation, food and drink services, entertainment, shopping, and transportation can be extensive.
In 2022, the travel and tourism sector contributed 7.6% to the global GDP and supported about 22 million new jobs. This highlights the massive potential of tourism as a driver of economic growth and job creation.
For example, the Caribbean region’s tourism industry contributed approximately 13.7% to its GDP and created around 17.1 million jobs in 2023. Likewise, the tourism industry in Thailand contributed 19.7% to its GDP in 2019. This is attributed to Thailand's vibrant culture, exotic beaches, and renowned hospitality, which attract millions of tourists each year.
When we talk about the potential of the tourism industry, travel titans in the industry have an influence on the perception of countries worldwide. When you start planning a trip, your first contacts are usually travel industry companies, be it airlines, hotels, or travel agencies. Now, if these interactions are smooth and positive, you're already stepping into your journey with a smile. In your mind, the destination becomes associated with friendliness.
But imagine the reverse. A hiccup with your flight or hotel booking could cast a shadow on your view of the destination, tagging it as 'unfriendly' even before you've had a chance to interact with the locals. It's fascinating how these early experiences with travel giants can frame our perception of an entire country.
Take airlines, for instance. Companies such as Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), United Airlines, and Ryanair connect people from different parts of the globe. Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), for example, manages over 4,000 daily flights in more than 275 places worldwide. They're also known for being on time more than any other North American airline. Every year, about 200 million customers fly with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL). That's what makes Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) one of the top-rated airlines in America.
Hotel chains like Marriott International (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Worldwide, and InterContinental Hotels Group also play an important role in shaping the narrative of friendliness. A tourist’s impression of friendliness often starts with their accommodation – the reception at the front desk, the housekeeping service, and the local recommendations from the concierge – all these interactions shape a guest’s perception.
Let's take the example of Marriott International (NYSE:MAR). As one of the world's most expansive hotel chains, Marriott International (NYSE:MAR) stretches across more than 138 countries. It not only offers travelers a comfortable place to rest their heads but also serves as a gateway to connect with and explore diverse destinations worldwide. This hospitality titan, with Marriott International’s (NYSE:MAR) consistent service and commitment to guest satisfaction, often sets the tone for travelers’ experiences in these countries.
Online travel agencies also have their roles in shaping the friendliness perception of a country. Countries that offer accessible online booking systems often seem more approachable and easier to navigate.
Consider Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB), a platform that streamlines the booking process for travelers with more than 6 million active listings spanning over 100,000 cities worldwide. The user-friendly interface of the Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) app allows travelers to secure a booking in less than 11 minutes, on average.
Imagine a country without access to convenient online booking platforms like Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB), or with platforms that are hard to use. Problems like booking difficulties, poor customer service, or inaccurate local stay information can sour a traveler's initial impression. This negative start can lead tourists to perceive their destination as less friendly, even before they've set foot in the country.
Each of these indexes gives us different insights into how friendly or 'unfriendly' a country might seem to outsiders. We selected countries that were included in all these indexes. Each country's score was determined based on a weighted average of its positions in these three indexes. Specifically, the weight distribution was as follows:
Visa Acceptance Index: 40%
Global Peace Index: 30%
Danger and Safety Index: 30%
We first normalized each country's score within each index to range from 1 (most unfriendly) to 24 (least unfriendly). We then applied the weights mentioned above to calculate the overall 'unfriendliness' score for each country.
The countries were subsequently ranked in ascending order of their friendliness scores, with the country possessing the lowest score ranked (1) as the 'most unfriendly'.
When we refer to a country as 'unfriendly' in our article, we're basing it on these three indexes. It's a mix of how easy it is to visit the country, how safe it is, and how well it's set up for tourists.
Below is our list of the most unfriendly countries in the world.
25 Most Unfriendly Countries in the World
Insider Monkey Score: 24
The high poverty rates, reports of crime, and instances of civil unrest in Benin can make it seem less than welcoming to outsiders. Travel advisories warning about risks in certain regions further contribute to its image as an unfriendly country.
Insider Monkey Score: 23
Despite its natural beauty, Guyana struggles with high crime rates and social unrest, creating a potentially unwelcoming environment for tourists. The lack of reliable public services and violent crimes add to its image of an unfriendly country.
23. Saudi Arabia
Insider Monkey Score: 23
The strict laws and customs in Saudi Arabia might seem overwhelming to those unfamiliar with its culture. However, Saudi Arabia is gradually opening up to tourism, with historic sites like Al Khobar and the futuristic city project NEOM.
Insider Monkey Score: 22
Ongoing political unrest and irregular terrorist attacks in Algeria can create a sense of hostility. Travel restrictions in certain areas, coupled with occasional social unrest and strikes, contribute to the country's unfriendly reputation.
21. Burkina Faso
Insider Monkey Score: 21
Despite its vibrant cultural scenes, Burkina Faso faces increasing security threats and political unrest, which can create an hostile environment for visitors. Risks include terrorism, crime, and kidnapping, particularly for those traveling outside the capital, Ouagadougou.
Insider Monkey Score: 20
The closed-off nature of Turkmenistan, due to its strict regulations and limited press freedom, can make it seem unfriendly to outsiders. Difficulties in obtaining travel permits and restrictions on independent travel further add to this perception.
Insider Monkey Score: 19
Guinea-Bissau grapples with frequent political turmoil, widespread corruption, and poor public services, making it one of the most unfriendly countries for expats and tourists. The safety concerns, crimes, and lack of tourism infrastructure contribute to the country's unfriendly image.
Insider Monkey Score: 18
The ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela, along with high crime rates and shortages of basic necessities, contribute to its reputation as an unfriendly country. The often-volatile political situation and concerns about safety can make traveling to the country challenging.
Insider Monkey Score: 17
Niger faces significant challenges due to its socio-economic conditions, harsh desert environment, and the risk of terrorist attacks, especially near its borders. These issues, along with poor infrastructure and health services, create an intimidating environment for visitors and make Niger one of the most unfriendly countries in 2023.
Insider Monkey Score: 16
While Pakistan is known for its breathtaking landscapes, it grapples with political instability and security concerns, creating a potential perception of hostility. Incidences of terrorism and crime add to the perception of Pakistan as an unfriendly country.
Insider Monkey Score: 15
Myanmar's ongoing political unrest, including military coups and widespread protests, results in an unstable environment. Reports of human rights abuses and travel restrictions, especially in conflict-affected regions, contribute to the country's unfriendly reputation.
Insider Monkey Score: 14
Despite its rich history and cultural heritage, Russia might come off as unfriendly to some due to its political tension with certain countries and colder climate. It also has strict visa regulations and reported intolerance towards certain group, which contributes to the country’s reputation as challenging and unwelcoming. Moscow, a city in Russia, is also ranked as one of the most unfriendly cities in the world.
Insider Monkey Score: 13
Despite Cameroon's remarkable cultural and geographic diversity, it can seem unfriendly due to political unrest and increased crime rates. The threats of kidnapping and violence, especially in the northern region, along with frequent protests and strikes, make the environment more unfriendly for tourists.
Insider Monkey Score: 12
Eritrea, despite its rich cultural heritage and stunning coastline, faces international isolation and human rights issues. Its strict travel regulations, wrongful detentions, mandatory military service, and limited freedom of expression contribute to a perception of an unwelcoming atmosphere for tourists.
Insider Monkey Score: 11
Mali is steeped in historical significance, but it's plagued by frequent terrorist attacks, high crime rate, and political instability. These risks, alongside severe travel advisories and the existence of dangerous areas controlled by extremist groups, make Mali a challenging destination for outsiders.
Disclosure. None. The 25 Most Unfriendly Countries in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.