Mapped: most and least peaceful places in Mexico

Peter Watson

Every Mexican state has been ranked according to its peacefulness in the Mexico Peace Index. Yucatán is named the most peaceful state, while Baja California is the least peaceful.

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Mapped: Mexico's states by peacefulnessVision of Humanity

For most Americans, with its famous beach resorts such as Cancún and Acapulco, Mexico is the preferred vacation destination.

According to the National Travel and Tourism Office at the US Department of Commerce, Mexico is by far the most popular destination for US travelers. In 2019, 39.3 million American residents visited the country.

Likewise, it is also the most popular destination for American ex-pats with almost 900,000 American-born residents living in Mexico.

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Cenote Samula Dzitnup near Valladolid, Yucatan, MexicoSimon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Mexico City alone has over 400,000 Americans living there, making it the single urban environment outside the US with the largest number of American-born residents.

An appealing climate, low cost of living and exceptional and affordable medical care have made Mexico a tempting destination for Americans.

When it comes to safety and security, Mexico regularly suffers from bad press with headlines often focusing on the worst of the country's dangerous and violent crimes which are nearly always related to organized criminal activities.

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Mexico CityWitR/Shutterstock

However, it would also be remiss to gloss over the troubles the country faces. According to the Mexico Peace Index, produced by the Vision of Humanity for the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the level of peace in the country has deteriorated for four years in a row.

The deterioration has been driven by substantial increases in criminal activity, with the rate of organized crime rising by 24.3% in a year.

As such, 23 of the 32 states deteriorated in peacefulness, while only nine states improved over the last 12 months.

According to the Mexico Peace Index (MPI) for 2020, the level of peace in the country deteriorated 4.3 per cent in 2019, costing $238 billion, in the fourth year of successive deteriorations. The deterioration was driven by substantial increases in criminal activity, with the rate of organized crime rising by 24.3 percent. Consequently, 23 of the 32 states deteriorated in peacefulness, while only nine improved. However, the rate of increase in homicide slowed significantly compared to the prior year, increasing by only 1.4 percent. – Vision of Humanity

Measuring peace in Mexico

The index measures peace using five key indicators, scored between 1 and 5, where 1 represents the most peaceful score and 5 the least peaceful.

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The ruins of Tulum in Mexico overlooking the Caribbean SeaJess Kraft/Shutterstock

The data runs from 2015 to 2019 and is comprised of the following five indicators:

  • Homicide: the number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 people.
  • Violent Crime: the number of robbery, sexual assault, and family violence cases and the number of violent assault victims per 100,000 people.
  • Organized Crime: the number of extortions, drug trade-related crimes, and kidnapping or human trafficking investigations per 100,000 people.
  • Firearms Crime: the number of victims of an intentional or negligent homicide or assault committed with a firearm per 100,000 people.
  • Detention without a Sentence: the ratio of persons in prison without a sentence to the number of homicides and violent crimes.

The Vision of Humanity also produces the Global Peace Index (GPI) as well as indices for the USA, UK and a Global Terrorism Index.

Mexico reports the lowest level of domestic security and justice spending of all of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, at 0.7 percent of GDP. Consequently, Mexico has found it difficult to build sufficient capacity in its judicial system to meet the country’s needs. To effectively address violence, Mexico must improve and increase its spending on the criminal justice system. – Vision of Humanity
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Chichen Itza in MexicoRichie Chan/Shutterstock

The report also analyzes the different dynamics driving the high levels of violence across the country.

Violence can be broken down into four different categories, each of which requires a different policy response:

1. Political violence

2. Opportunistic violence, such as extortion and robbery

3. Interpersonal violence, such as assault, sexual assault and violence in the family

4. Cartel conflict, characterized by high levels of homicide, drug-trade related crime and armed conflict between criminal groups.

Homicide is now the leading cause of death for 15 to 44-year-olds and the fourth most common for children five to fourteen. – Vision of Humanity

Most and least peaceful states in Mexico

Now in its seventh year, the Mexico Peace Index ranks all 32 Mexican states from most peaceful to least peaceful. All data used to calculate the MPI comes from government organisations in Mexico.

1. Yucatán

2. Tlaxcala

3. Chiapas

4. Campeche

5. Nayarit

6. Hidalgo

7. Coahuila

8. Durango

9. Veracruz

10. Puebla

11. Aguascalientes

12. Querétaro

13. Oaxaca

14. Tamaulipas

15. San Luis Potosi

16. Nuevo León

17. Baja California Sur

18. Sinaloa

19. México

20. Jalisco

21. Sonora

22. Michoacán

23. Mexico City

24. Tabasco

25. Zacatecas

26. Morelos

27. Guerrero

28. Guanajuato

29. Chihuahua

30. Quintana Roo

31. Colima

32. Baja California

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ
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