One-in-five murder victims around the world is Brazilian, Colombian or Venezuelan, a study has shown, despite the three countries containing less than four per cent of the world's total population.
The Homicide Monitor data project compiled by the Brazil-based Instituto Igarape reveals the high rates of homicide around Latin America and the Caribbean, where a third of all of the world's homicides occur.
The region contains only eight per cent of the world's total population.
Honduras (85.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), Venezuela (53.7) and the US Virgin Islands (46.9) have the highest murder rates per population in the world.
By contrast, New Zealand's homicide rate is 0.9 per 100,000 population (as of 2012), while Australia's is 1.1.
But owing to Brazil and Colombia's largest overall population, these two countries - along with Venezeula - are responsible for one-in-five of all murders in the world each year.
Brazil had 56,337 homicides - the highest in the world - reported in 2012 (the most recent year for which data is available), Venezuela 16,072 and Colombia 15,733.
Poverty and inequality levels are high in Brazil, particularly in the country's north, where black, mixed race, and indigenous populations are disproportionately affected.
These disparities contribute to Brazil's high crime rate, particularly sparking violent crime in cities flanked by favelas.
In Colombia, murder rates have fallen from 381 per 100,00 in 1991 to today's 30.3, largely as a result of the end of the drug wars, but violence among guerrillas, paramilitary groups, and Colombian security forces remains high.
As Colombia began to break up the drug cartels, violence in neighbouring Venezuela increased, as the gangs found an amenably lawless environment in which to operate with impunity.
The border regions between the two countries became more dangerous as Farc guerillas, smugglers and drug cartels filtered through, to operate across both nations.
• Some 437,000 people were murdered around the world in 2012
• More than 130 cities in Latin America and the Cairbbean have murder rates higher than 25 per 100,000.
• Almost half of all homicides in Latin America and the Caribbean involve male victims between the ages of 15-29
• 14 of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates per population are in Latin America or the Caribbean
Drug wars have made Honduras, the original banana republic, the world's most dangerous country.
New Zealand's homicide rates
New Zealand's low murder rate reflects a politically-stable country, with little corruption, and strict gun control, a leading criminologist says.
A new study into all of the world's homicides has shown New Zealand to be one of the most safest countries in the world.
New Zealand's homicide rate is 0.9 per 100,000 population, as of 2012, according to Homicide Monitor data project, reported above.
For the past 20 years, there has been around an average of 50 homicides a year in New Zealand. It compares starkly with Latin America and the Caribbean, where a third of all of the world's homicides occur.
Honduras is the world's most dangerous country, with 85.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Venezuela (53.7) and the US Virgin Islands (46.9), the Telegraph reports.
Of the 437,000 murdered around the world in 2012, a staggering 56,337 cases were from Brazil, which hosts the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.
University of Canterbury criminologist Greg Newbold put "political chaos" and the easy availability of firearms at the root of most high murder rates. He cited the example of 1920s Chicago where gangs rampaged the city and homicides soared.
"You have the same in Mexico and Brazil today where organised crime runs everything," Mr Newbold said.
"High murder rates are an indication of a society which is unstable and insecure, and where the rule of law is weak."
There were several reasons why New Zealand was so safe, he said.
Every year, "organised, stable" New Zealand ranks in the bottom one or two of international corruption tables, while the rule of law is respected.
"And we have a lot of registered firearms - over a million in New Zealand - but we control them well, and guns are only used in about 25 per cent of murders here."
-Kurt Bayer, NZME.