venezuela-murders cropped

Venezuelans protesting the high murder rate in their country

It is estimated that in 2012 someone in the world was murdered every 72 seconds.

437,000 people.


According to the US Census Bureau that’s more than the entire 2010 population of a number of large US cities such as New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Miami, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

us popupAn organization in Rio de Janeiro, the Igarapé Institute, has built an interactive website called the The Homicide Monitor that tracks the world’s murders from 2000 to 2012. The website displays a globe that can be rotated with the mouse. Clicking on a country pops up information about the population of the country, the number of homicides, the homicide rate per 100K people, a graph showing the ten-year murder trend, the most commonly used murder weapon, and the gender of the victim. Not all data is available for all countries for each year.

No one will be surprised to learn that murder rates vary a great deal across different countries. Homicide is relatively unlikely in Europe where most countries have murder rates that are less than 1 per 100K people. Living in the US where the homicide rate in 2012 was 4.7 per 100K people is more dangerous. Areas where people are most likely to be murdered include sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Northern Asia.

Care must be taken when clicking on a country to note which year’s data appears in the pop up. If you click on a particular year for a country, every country you subsequently click will pop up the data for that year. If the next country doesn’t have data for the year in question, it will display data from the most recent year available and every country you click on after that will display data for this new year. This makes finding information about different countries for a particular year awkward because you will have to continuously monitor the year for the results you get and reset the infographic to the year that interests you if you click on a country that doesn’t have the data for the year you want.

south americaThe Igarapé Institute points out that the Latin American and Caribbean nations are home to approximately 8% of the world’s population and approximately 33% of the world’s murders. Clicking on one of these countries gives you the option of delving more deeply and examining murder rates for both areas and individual cities.

8% of the world’s population accounting for 33% of the world’s murders is a remarkable combination of statistics. Even more remarkable is a similar comparison made by Jill Leovy in her recent book Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. According to Leovy, black men account for 6% of the US population and a little bit less than 40% of murder victims in the US.

While Leovy’s book focuses on the murder of black men in Los Angeles she points out that the disproportionate murder victim rates she reports are similar to those seen throughout the US for the past 150 years. For example, the New York Times recently published an interactive infographic showing every murder committed in the five boroughs from 2003 to 2011. Mousing over the map gives details about the victim, the killer, the motive, and the murder weapon if known. While black males make up roughly 10% of New York City’s population, they accounted for 61% of the city’s murder victims during the time period reported by the New York Times.

nyt murder map

Every dot represents a murdered person

6% of the population and approximately 40% of the murder victims.

Think about those statistics for a minute. While the dead person is the only one who contributes to victim statistics, he or she is not the only victim. Family, friends, and loved ones all suffer.

6% of the population and approximately 40% of the murder victims.

A small segment of the population is shouldering a grossly disproportionate amount of the grief, suffering, and fear that must be endured by those left living when a loved one is murdered.

6% of the population and approximately 40% of the murder victims is an outrageous state of affairs.


If you have wondered why so many people have taken to the streets in protest under the slogan “Black Lives Matter” this is part of the answer. It’s not the whole story but it’s a good place to start.

6% of the population and approximately 40% of the murder victims.

This has to stop.

It has to stop now.

About Kevin Murnane

I am a cognitive scientist, a freelance writer and author (Nutrition for Cyclists: Eating and Drinking Before, During and After the Ride), a musician (Parametric Monkey - stream on Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube), a bookstore owner (Monkey Books - first edition mystery, science fiction, fantasy and more, listed on ABE books, Amazon and Biblio), and a retired house painter, children's theater actor & owner, and university professor. I'm also a regular contributor to the technology section at Forbes and I write a cycling blog called Tuned In To Cycling. You can follow me on twitter @TheInfoMonkey and contact me at
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