Which cities have the highest murder rates? Cocaine is grown primarily in South America, and trafficked to the world’s biggest market, the United States, via Central America and the Caribbean. The land routes originate mainly in Colombia, and pass through the small nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala before traversing Mexico. It is little wonder, then, that Latin America remains the world’s most violent region not at war. According to data from the Igarapé Institute, a Brazilian think-tank, 43 of the 50 most murderous cities in the world in 2016, and eight of the top ten countries, are in Latin America and the Caribbean. (War zones, where numbers are hard to verify, are excluded.) Conflicts between gangs, corruption and weak public institutions all contribute to the high levels of violence across the region. The top of the ranking has not changed. In both 2015 and 2016, El Salvador was the world’s most violent country, and its capital, San Salvador, was the most murderous city. However, the 2016 numbers do represent a slight improvement: the national murder rate fell from 103 killings per 100,000 people in 2015 to 91 the following year, and San Salvador’s murder rate from 190 to 137. Most analysts credit a clampdown by government security forces for this reduction, though tough-on-crime policies do little to address the underlying causes of gang violence. A similar downward trend was evident in neighbouring Honduras: San Pedro Sula, which for years wore the unwelcome crown as the world’s most murderous city, ranked third. However, spikes in violence in neighbouring countries suggest that anti-gang policies are merely redistributing murders geographically rather than preventing them. Acapulco, a beach resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast, recorded 108 homicides per 100,000 people in 2016, placing it second behind San Salvador. That reflects the nationwide trend: Mexico’s overall rate rose from 14.1 killings per 100,000 people to 17. That figure nearly equals the previous violent peak of Mexico’s drug wars, in 2011. As a result, six Mexican cities rank among the top 50, three more than did so a year earlier.