There are lots of misconstrued notions floating around about the level of racism in particular countries, not really based on anything more than what people call "personal experience". For example, I heard a person say "America is the most racist country in the world". I asked, "What do you base this accusation on?" The person replied, "Personal experience and media". I tried to contain my laughter and asked, "What other countries do you have personal experiences in?" The person of course mentioned a vacation trip to Mexico and a study abroad program in England but that was the extent of their experience. Personal experience is invaluable and I in fact use it to assess many choices I get presented with an a daily basis, but for the purposes of a global perspective, personal experience cannot really be a genuine measuring tool when measuring things outside of your own experience.

For this reason, I have included an outside survey by World Value Surveys that includes over 80 countries that participated. Over one thousand citizens of each country were given a survey and one particular question on the survey asked "who they wouldn't want living next to them as a neighbor". Respondents could put anything they wanted (i.e. handicap people, racial minorities, university students) or omit from answering it at all.  I am more than aware that one question on a survey cannot show all to know about a country and its racial tolerance or lack there of because hundreds of factors can decide things. However, this is an interesting topic worth noting, and if nothing else, this gives you guys an idea of the sorts of ideologies people of other countries have against not only different races, but sexual orientations and religious views (which has become a pseudo-racism in itself) as well. Most media outlets in the West assume that Western countries are not tolerant, while the Eastern countries will welcome visitors with open arms. This is simply not true and in fact, this survey shows almost exactly the opposite.

So, for the purposes of education and viewership, I give you the top 10 Most Racist Countries in the World starting with number 10. Oh, and if you want to have lots of fun, plan a vacation to these places.

Republic of Zambia


An Exceptional Change in Zambia, and via the Ballot Box, Too

Despite that in 2010, the World Bank named Zambia (formerly known as Northern Rhodesia) one of the world's fastest economically reformed countries, the Opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has made it very clear that they want even further tribalism of the country (essentially segregation) and defends their stance as a racist organization, even going so far as to call current Vice President Guy Scott a "stupid white man" because of his view of liberating the racism and segregation that uproot this country. That same organization, which was in power not too many years ago, calls out homosexuals for their "devil-like" behavior. Zambia is on its way to prosperity and freedom, but there is no doubt that political racism still impacts the masses. According to World Value Surveys, 29.5% of the population said that there is at least one race of people that they would not want to live next to, not necessarily making it a tolerant country. If you are flying here for a vacation, bring two bodyguards. Just a heads up.

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Republic of Indonesia



Until recently (thanks in large part to President Abdurraham Wahid) Indonesia had huge governmental racially discriminatory regulations aimed directly against Chinese Indonesians, like not being able to speak Mandarin, the abolishing of Confucianism as an official religion (still remains) and the issuing of special codes on I.D.'s to show ethnic Chinese origin. Amnesty International has reported that about 100,000 Papuans, the indigenous people of New Guinea and the surrounding islands, died due to government-sponsored violence against West Papuans. In a country where its transmigration program moved hundreds of thousands of Javanese and Sumatran (islanders of Indonesia) migrants to Papua in only ten years to tip the scale of power in the province, racism is not only rampant but it was and still is government-supported (i.e. Chinese schools are not allowed in Indonesia). 

Islamic Republic of Iran



If you've seen 300, though I hate to use that as a stepping stone, then you've heard about Iran (Persia), the eighth most racist country in the world on list. Today, Iran lives with sanctions imposed on them by the UN Security Council for suspicion of converting their civilian nuclear technology by way of local companies into a weapons program. Iran does not recognize Israel as a state, nor does it keep up any diplomatic relations with the United States since the Iranian Revolution (the overthrowing of the Pahlavi dynasty for an Islāmic Republic), though it does with almost all other United Nations members. Even though Iran is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, according to Amnesty International, the "Arab population of Iran is one of the most economically and socially deprived in Iran" and that Arabs have "reportedly been denied state employment under the gozinesh [job placement] criteria". Land expropriation, the process of seizing private land and turning it to the government, has been widely reported as the tool to forcibly move the Arabs of Iran, called by some as "ethnic cleansing".

Republic of Korea


South Koreans Mourn a Former President and Rebuke the Current One

Until January 2011, biracial men were forbidden from serving in the South Korean military, just one of the reasons the United Nations has become increasingly concerned with the extreme emphasis the country places on ethnic homogeneity. In a 2009 poll , 47% of Korean children were uncertain or negative about whether they could make friends with a biracial child. With Confucian ideologies shaping most of Korean society, where age and gender among other things are determinants in relation to others, wide-spread prejudicial treatment in society based on these determinants is rampant. Older men hold the highest ranking in all segments of Korean society and younger women hold the lowest. Since foreigners, homosexuals and racially mixed children are not part of the normal circle of Korean society, they are seen as ranking even lower than the youngest women, with evidence suggesting that the education system in Korea is one of the greatest perpetrators of this philosophy.

Arab Republic of Egypt


Cairo, Egypt

Spanning mostly over northern Africa but also into some parts of southwestern Asia, Egypt has been continuously inhabited since the 10th millennium BC and is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East. The Penal code in Egypt has a "Blasphemy Law", often said to victimize the minorities of the country including the Shia, Sufi, Christians, Bahai, and atheists and was recently used to sanction the death penalty on 7 Egyptian Christians and a Florida pastor tried in absentia (accused but not present in courtroom) for creating an anti-Islam film. The Pew Forum on Rights & Public Life ranks Egypt the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom and 84% of Egyptians polled said they support the death penalty for those who leave Islam. With its place in Africa, racism against blacks is said to be very strong as well. Mona Eltahawy, a columnist for Egypt's Al Masry and Qatar's Al Arab, said, "The racism I saw in Cairo Metro has an echo in the Arab world at large, where the suffering in Darfur goes ignored because its victims are black and because those creating the misery in Darfur are not Americans or Israelis and we only pay attention when America and Israel behave badly...We love to cry 'Islamaphobia' when we talk about the way Muslim minorities are treated in the West and yet we never stop to consider how we treat minorities and the most vulnerable among us". She went on to recognize that racist incidents are condemned in the United States, but that in Egypt, as well as the entire Arab world, there is a culture of silence toward racism which reflects negatively on Arab society.

Socialist Republic of Vietnam


Vietname Tours

In the once famed Vietnam, one of only four remaining single-party socialist states encompassing communism, the pro-Hanoi Vietcong (political organization that fought both the United States & South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War) instilled a guerilla campaign in the late 1950's to overthrow the Diem's government. In the North, the communist government started a land reform program which was "aimed at exterminating class enemies" where an estimated 50,000-172,000 people perished in the campaigns, though other sources have higher estimates, ranging from 200,000-900,000. Today, just like in Korea, "pure bred" Vietnamese hold higher social rank than their mixed inhabitants or caucasian and black tourists. According to World Value Surveys, 35.1% of Vietnamese surveyed reported that they would not live next to at least one other race.

Republic of Rwanda


'Rwanda fuels Congo's civil war, Bahrain tortures citizens,' says the FCO. So why aren't they 'countries of concern'?

In one of the worst genocides in human history, over 500,000 Tutsis (more European appearance) were slaughtered by the Hutus in a matter of 3 months. Gender-targeted crimes, catapulted by commandments listing the traits of a Hutus traitor (all including some sort of relationship with a Tutsi women), like sexual mutilation and rape against the Tutsi women were used to humiliate both the men and women of the tribe. Propaganda depicting the Tutsi women as suductresses and spies acted as a major catalyst to fuel the acts. Today, Rwanda lives with those events and has never gotten past the idea of racial tolerance.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia

In this country (97% Muslim), where physical punishments like beheadings, stoning, crucifixion and amputations are regular forms of retribution and capital punishment, there are no jury trials and the arrested party is often times not told the crime of which they committed nor given a lawyer. Furthermore, every woman has to have a close male relative as her "guardian" who makes life decisions on her behalf, sit in separate sections of restaurants and are not permitted to drive. In Saudi Arabia, there is no real social opposition to racism like there is in the West, as prejudicial treatment towards foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Philippines, Egypt, Yemen and many more is common practice. Discrimination fueled by religion is also quite common, even going so far as not allowing Shias (10-30% of all Muslims) in the military. Four groups of people, according to the Saudi government's official tourism website in 2004, would be denied visas regardless including:

- Israelis and anyone with a passport "that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp"

- Those who don't abide by Saudi traditions, and those under the influence of alcohol

- Non-Muslims intending to go to Mecca or Medina, where non-Muslims are banned

- "Jewish people"

Note that Anthony Weiner, former U.S. representative of New York's 9th congressional district, raised huge concern about this with then president George W. Bush and ultimately had the country release a statement saying it was a mistake.

Republic of India



At nearly four times the size of the United States, India not only has the second largest population in the world, it has one of the fastest growing economies.  With large cultural pluralism, tensions between the northeast Indians has risen due to their different appearance and has resulted in many killings and reports of prejudicial treatment in schools and stores. As with many countries in the region, women are perceived as a weaker gender and are not allowed to do religious practices for their parents' afterlife, inherent family property and are often times selectively aborted with use of ultrasound technology explaining why for every 1000 men there are 946 women.


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan


Jordan thrives among change

According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 86% of Jordanians polled said they support the death penalty for those who leave Islam, 58% supported whippings and cutting off hands for theft and robbery and 70% supported stoning those who commit adultery. There are tons of reports of tourists, who do not resemble that of the typical Jordanian skin color, not being allowed in stores, restaurants and even hotels. Despite many of its citizens' social purges against many darker races, the country is a highly advanced and thriving economic country where it has enjoyed "advanced status" with the European Union since 2010. With it being illegal to sell land to a Jew in Jordan however, I don't think anyone would consider Jordan racially tolerant. Especially when 51.4% of Jordanians surveyed said that they would not want to live next to someone of a different race.

World View Surveys Map Index of Racial Tolerance

It should be noted that Hong Kong and Bangladesh were both reported as 71.8% and 71.1% respecetively, however those numbers are actually inverted, where they should read 28.2% and 28.9% according to.

So there you have it, the top 10 most racist countries in the world. These may not make the most desirable vacation places, but I guarantee you will never forget your trip! Please feel free to contact me or comment below with questions you have. Read these similar articles.

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Zambia (Bradt Travel Guide Zambia)
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