A few months ago, this channel published a list of the world's best passports, which declared the British Passport as the biggest winner when it came to the number of countries its holders could access, visa-free. (As of 2018, the Passport Index has updated its rankings, and has listed Singapore's passport at the top of the list.) That article got a lot of attention, not surprisingly from Brits, who were proud of how powerful their passport is, even long after the fall of the British Empire.
Today's article flips to the other side of that coin—these are the world's worst passports. Objectively-speaking, all of these passports are the same: You can only visit 31-39 countries visa free when attempting to travel on any of them. The list below talks through some additional factors that make holding each of the world's worst passports more or less disadvantageous.
DISCLAIMER: Data from the amazing Passport Index website forms the foundation of this list. Make sure and check out the site after you read to make sure the rankings are still correct—they're changing all the time!
Though more than 20 years has passed since the bloodiest part of the Somalian Civil War ended, the country is still technically a combat zone. This is even excepting the foothold radical Islamic groups have established in the country, Somali pirates that have become infamous the world over and dozens of other existential crises that make countries nervous about admitting Somali nationals without a visa. Currently, those who hold a passport from Somalia can only enter 39 countries visa-free.
Syria's Civil War is even bloodier and more recent than Somalia's, so it's not shocking that Syrian passport holder can access just 37 countries without a visa. However, even those who can escape the carnage and travel have an added impediment. Currently, Damascus Airport (Syria's main international gateway) enjoys nonstop fights to only a few world cities, including Moscow and Tehran.
Pakistan is a tricky country to analyze, both in general geopolitical terms, and also when it comes to why it has one of the world's worst passports. Part of the reason why just 36 countries admit Pakistanis without a visa is the fact that Pakistan harbors terrorists, even though there's not an active civil war raging in the country. Pakistan's relationship with the United States has also recently deteriorated, which can't have helped its diplomatic efforts abroad.
Many people now agree former US President George W. Bush was premature when he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq in 2003. But the weakness of the Iraqi passport, the world's second-worst as of October 2018, is something about which there's near-universal agreement. Though the second Iraq War has officially been over for several years, just 34 countries allow Iraqi passport holders to enter without a visa.
Afghanistan's passport is perhaps the very worst in the world. The country, which has been war-torn since the middles of the 20th century, suffers from the same geographical isolation as many on this list, but the country also bears another scar: Its citizens have a per capita GDP of under $1,000 USD per year, which makes the prospect of international travel bleak for all but the richest among them.
Even for Afghans who can manage to afford a plane ticket to somewhere else in central Asia or beyond, the added financial and logistical burden of needing to secure a visa in advance of travel to all but 31 countries exists. There's a reason the Afghanistan passport is known as one of the world's worst!