With an American passport and the right visas, travelers have all the tools they need to see the world. However, even in our modern society, there are certain countries where Americans are not just unwelcome - they are barred from visiting entirely.
Every year, the United States Department of State issues several travel warnings, ranging from awareness advisories to avoidance orders. While there are a number of nations that travelers should be aware of every year, these three countries have remained on the State Department's "Do Not Travel" list for years.
Before making plans to visit these countries on pleasure or a "voluntourism" trip, travelers should think long and careful before securing their plans. The following are three countries Americans should not visit.
Americans can not visit the Central African Republic
In 2013, the Central African Republic begun a violent military coup which ultimately overthrew the government. Today, the land-locked nation continues to rebuild with peaceful elections and a transitional government intact. Despite the progress, the nation remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world, with violence between militant groups ready to break out at any moment.
The U.S. Embassy in Bangui suspended operations at the end of 2012 and have not yet resumed offering services to Americans in the country. Instead, the protecting power for U.S. citizens has been transferred to the French Embassy. Additionally, border crossings between the Central African Republic and Chad have been closed, with only residents of Chad returning home allowed to pass.
With no embassy protections in place and the potential for targeting western visitors, the Central African Republic remains a very dangerous destination for American travelers. Those considering a trip to this nation should reconsider their plans before departure.
Americans can not visit Eritrea
Though you may have never heard of this northeastern African nation, Eritrea is very well aware of their position in the world. In 2013, the local government issued restrictions on all foreign visitors inbound to the small country. Anyone who plans on visiting – diplomats included – must apply for a visa well ahead of their arrival.
Each visa is accompanied by a travel permit, detailing where a traveler is allowed to go. Visitors are not allowed any diversion from their approved itinerary - even to visit religious sites near major cities. Those who travel outside of their approved permits are subject to a number of penalties, including arrest and denial of exit visas.
In addition, laws are often enforced by armed “citizen militias.” Operating at night, militias often check visitors and citizens for documentation. If an individual cannot provide documentation on demand, they could face immediate arrest.
Although the U.S. Embassy remains open, officials cannot guarantee they can provide assistance to travelers. While the monasteries of Eritrea are a pilgrimage site for those of the Eastern Orthodox faith, those Americans who try to make the trip may not make it back.
Americans can not visit Libya
The problems in Libya have been well documented over the last decade. From the 2011 civil war that disposed the dictatorship to the attacks on the U.S. Embassy, travelers to the north African nation have been often warned to stay away for their own safety.
In 2014, the U.S. State Department suspended all embassy services in the war-torn country, citing continued political unrest throughout the nation. With high crime levels and a widely-held suspicion that all Americans are government spies, traveling to Libya should not be high on any American's list. The message from the State Department is clear: anyone coming from the west should avoid Libya at all costs.
While the world can be a beautiful place, it may not be always welcome to American travelers. Through avoiding these three countries, Americans make sure their travels remain safe and secure, without concerns of clear and present danger.