Many people travel to all types of different countries with various levels of policing, safety and security with little consideration to the threats. There are some truly fantastic resources out there at the tips of your fingers and this post will highlight these and how you can do some basic research of the security risks and threats for whatever country you are going to or maybe plan on visiting.
Indeed, it is best to factor security considerations into your travel plans at an early stage so if you determine that a country has a level of threat you weren't previously aware of, you can change destinations relatively easily and hassle free.
What can I tap into?
There are four primary resources for doing this research and it will not take long to do, as these organisations have done all the work for you. All you need to do is tap into it. These four resources are the CIA, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the International Crisis Group (ICG).
CIA - Although not widely known for it, the CIA produces and maintains an excellent resource for the general public, titled 'The World Fact Book'. This is a free online resource where you can find all sorts of information about almost any country you could think of going to.
It contains information to make your travel much easier and smoother such as data on geography, people, government, economy, communications, military and transnational issues. All of these factors may impact on your ease of travel when overseas and in particular, may effect your safety and security.
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Information on the FCO site has useful travel advice on matters such as safety and security like crime and terrorism, natural disasters, local laws and customs, political situation and health system and issues among other areas. It is targeted for UK citizens but is still a relevant resource for all travellers.
Smart Traveller - Smart traveller is a resource provided by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is designed to provide travel advice for Australian citizens but is again, relevant for all travellers. Smart Traveller provides advice on safety and security matters such as crime, political tension and terrorism, local laws, entry and exit requirements and health issues.
International Crisis Group - The International Crisis Group is mostly concerned with producing reports on places of actual unrest and violence so it is unlikely that there will be anything of value on a modern stable country such as Italy for example.
However, for those planning on travelling to a third world or developing country, it is worthwhile checking out what the ICG has to say about it. This will likely involve sifting through reports or alerts but is definitely worthwhile if you plan on going to a country covered by these people.
Give me the Links
CIA This link will take you to the main page of the World Fact Book, where you choose your country of interest and away you go.
FCO This link will take you to the main page where again, you simply search by country.
Smart Traveller This link will take you to the Smart Traveller home page where you search by country as well.
International Crisis Group This link will take you to the Crisis Watch area where you can view the 12 page monthly bulletin highlighting all of the current events. Areas covered include developments in current or potential conflict zones, assessments of the overall situations and whether they have improved or deteriorated and it alerts readers to particular risks of new or significantly escalated conflict. There is much information throughout the entire site.
Use the Vast Resources of the Intelligence Agencies!
Remember, three of these above links harness the full resources and capabilities of their respective countries Intelligence agencies for advice and guidance when producing these travel advices so a lot of work, knowledge, money and thought has gone into them.
All of these links have valuable information not mentioned here as well as valuable links to even more information. Checking these places out before departing on travel whether it be for enjoyment or business is definitely worthwhile and recommended.
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