Since September 30, 2002, the Department of State of the United States has been required to record and make publicly available details statistics of United States citizens who die overseas from non-natural causes. The department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs includes details of where, when and what category of death was suffered by an American citizen overseas. The registry is not comprehensive – most Americans who die overseas are resident abroad and may not be registered with the local US embassy, and the registry does not include deaths of certain government and military personnel.

Based on the registry, 1,798 American citizens died abroad from the start of the record period to 31 December, 2004. Not surprisingly given the large number of visitors and retirees, more Americans died Mexico than any other country, with 460 lives lost. The country that claimed the second largest number of lives was Iraq, with 70 of the recorded 84 deaths caused by terrorism. Thailand came next with 61 lives, although this may be larger given that this figure only includes a fraction of the American deaths coming from the Boxing Day tsunami. Inexplicably, the Dominican Republic came in at fourth place with 60 deaths, of which 24 involved homicide and 17 involved automobile accidents. Other countries that claimed large numbers of American citizens include Costa Rica (56 deaths), Canada (48), Australia (43), Germany (42), Honduras (32) and Columbia (31).

Vehicle Accidents

Worse than terrorism, sharks or spiders, motor vehicle accidents kill more Americans abroad than anything else. 432 Americans died in car accidents in the reporting period; a further 72 deaths involved motorcycles, 18 involved buses and 20 involved another kind of vehicle. An additional 27 Americans died as pedestrians. Australia is over-represented here – perhaps because it is a car dependent society that drives on the left.


Yes, it is really is a baaad world out there. 285 Americans were murdered abroad, and this figure excludes terrorism. Nine out of the top ten countries for homicide committed against American citizens are in Latin America.


Sadly, people may forget how unfit they become between holidays, or fail to identify rips or unsuspecting tides on alien shores. 213 Americans drowned overseas in the reporting period, predominantly in countries famed for beach resorts like Mexico, Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Australia.


Tragically, 204 Americans were their own worst enemy. Perhaps unfulfilled expectations of romance in the city of love, or nihilistic brooding in a Hamburg coffee shop, accounts for France and Germany being the countries second to Mexico where most Americans took their own lives (12 each). Blame the weather for a further 11 Americans killing themselves in the United Kingdom.


Contrary to the statistically absurd canard about women over forty being as likely to marry as to getting killed by a terrorist, probably more octogenerians are wheelchaired down the aisle every month than Cathy Guisewite-types get their throats slit.

Americans died in the Bali bombings (7 dead), the Moscow theatre siege (1 dead) and various other attacks in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Columbia, The Philippines, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt. Of the 118 Americans that died from terrorist actions, 70 died in Iraq, although one might want to question the semantics of the State department if you do not consider an attack on an insurgent force against a civilian contractor performing a quasi-military role to be more an act of armed resistance than an act of terrorism.

Air Accidents

74 Americans died in air disasters, however in the reporting period there did not appear to be any single air accident that claimed a significant number of American lives. The worst disaster was a plane crash in Kenya which killed 13 Americans.

Drug Related Deaths

Increased risk taking while travelling extends to the consumption of illicit dangerous drugs, which claimed the lives of 60 Americans. One third of these fatalities occurred in Mexico, and there were at least four deaths in each of Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia and the Netherlands. Draw your own conclusions.

Natural Disasters

43 Americans died in various natural disasters around the world, of which 18 (to date) are attributed to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

Train Accidents

Trains only claimed 11 American lives, of which five involved a single accident in France in 2002.

Maritime Accidents

And there are even less fatalities arising from travelling in boats. Ten Americans died in boating accidents, although three died in separate incidents in The Bahamas.

’Other’ Accidents

Under this catch all entry come all the other misadventures – people who fall through floorboards in nineteenth century chateaus or get electrocuted by dodgy hot water systems. 208 Americans were killed in such accidents.

Enjoy planning your next vacation.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.