Latin America comprises only 8% of the world's population, but accounts for 31% of its murders.
"A combination of factors is to blame, said Alejandro Hope, a security expert at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think tank: weak law enforcement institutions, a vibrant illegal narcotics trade that led to a growth in organized crime, a culture of violence, economic inequality, and the region's chaotic urbanization of the past three decades, which created rings of slums around mega cities.
Brazil, the host for this year's World Cup soccer tournament, has more overall homicides than any country, at 50,108, accounting for one in 10 globally, followed by India, with 43,355 murders in 2012.
Ms. Me said the most surprising thing to her in the data was the persistence of criminal violence in the Americas over time. The U.N. group looked at data since 1955 and found the Americas, including the U.S., had at least five times higher homicide rates than Europe and parts of Asia.
"Europe was only 10 years from a violent war, so how is it that even back in 1955 the Americas were so much more violent?" Ms. Me said. [Culture?]
The U.S. homicide rate is 4.7 per 100,000—well above every other industrialized country.
The Americas also had the highest rate of guns as the cause of homicide—with 66% of the homicides caused by guns versus 28% in Africa and Asia and 13% in Europe.
However, not all Latin America is a hotbed of violent crime. Southern South America—Chile, Argentina and Uruguay—have crime rates roughly similar to the U.S. There is far less organized crime and better policing in those nations compared to the rest of the region, Mr. Hope said."