Surprised 2174 Brits died abroad of “unknown causes” in 2010: new figures from the FCO

More data from the FCO, going into further detail about the figures published in their “British Behaviour Abroad” report, covering consular activity between March 2010 and March 2011. It took so long to get a breakdown of the 62 murders that I was expecting to have to wait longer for these further reports. But each time I’ve subsequently made a new request from the press office, I’ve received an email with the figures almost the same day.

“Cause of death: unknown” accounts for 2174 British visitors and local British residents. It’s a big number, but perhaps one shouldn’t deduce anything suspicious about it.  The biggest numbers seem to be in countries with big British resident populations, and here I’m told it’s not uncommon for the British embassy to be told about the death but not be given any further information.

For anyone who thinks this interest in accidents, murder and death is a touch morbid, I should point out it that it has been prompted by the widespread attention to the supposed dangers of travelling in many parts of Africa. I’m interested in correcting what I believe is a mistaken impression. It’s worth remembering that the ordinary annual “death rate” in the UK, through all causes, including illnesses associated with old age, is just under 1%. So some 500,000 Britons died in the UK in the same period.

This is all awfully British. . . If anyone has figures for other major tourist/visitor source countries, do get in touch.

In the next post, I’ll summarise all the figures for Africa. It turns out that in 26 African countries in 2010/11 not a single British visitor or resident died – of any cause.

Natural causes Cause of death: unknown
Afghanistan 1 0
Angola 2 3
Argentina 4 3
Australia 38 33
Austria 5 1
Bahrain 9 0
Bangladesh 2 3
Barbados 5 13
Belarus 1 0
Belgium 8 11
Belize 1 1
Bolivia 2 1
Botswana 3 0
Brazil 10 3
British Virgin Islands 0 1
Brunei 2 3
Bulgaria 16 10
Burma 0 1
Cambodia 1 10
Cameroon 1 1
Canada 30 13
Cayman Islands 1 1
Chile 2 1
China 24 19
Colombia 0 2
Congo DRC 1 0
Croatia 9 3
Cuba 1 10
Curacao 1 0
Cyprus 91 112
Czech Republic 13 1
Denmark 2 12
Dominican Republic 9 6
Egypt 49 25
Estonia 1 2
Ethiopia 1 2
Fiji 0 1
Finland 2 4
France 127 510
The Gambia 5 13
Georgia 0 1
Germany 292 172
Ghana 3 7
Greece 73 43
Guatemala 0 3
Hungary 2 2
Iceland 2 2
India 81 34
Indonesia 8 5
Iraq 1 0
Ireland 2 1
Israel 6 1
Italy 97 18
Jamaica 9 10
Japan 8 1
Jerusalem 0 1
Jordan 8 0
Kazakhstan 2 0
Kenya 6 10
Kuwait 5 2
Laos 0 1
Lebanon 3 0
Libya 1 0
Lithuania 1 0
Malawi 4 0
Malaysia 31 7
Malta 15 24
Mauritius 3 0
Mexico 8 3
Mongolia 0 1
Montenegro 1 0
Morocco 15 3
Mozambique 0 1
Namibia 0 1
Nepal 0 4
Netherlands 9 25
New Zealand 95 9
Nigeria 7 5
Norway 34 2
Oman 11 2
Pakistan 11 3
Peru 0 6
Philippines 62 1
Poland 7 17
Portugal 80 121
Qatar 1 2
Romania 5 2
Russia 5 2
Rwanda 0 1
Saudi Arabia 13 3
Senegal 2 2
Serbia 1 0
Seychelles 0 1
Sierra Leone 4 0
Singapore 20 6
Slovakia 1 1
Slovenia 1 0
Solomon Islands 1 1
South Africa 26 11
South Korea 2 2
Spain 1193 360
Sri Lanka 10 6
Sudan 0 1
Sweden 1 56
Switzerland 7 153
Tanzania 2 2
Thailand 209 91
Trinidad & Tobago 1 1
Tunisia 8 3
Turkey 82 22
Turkmenistan 1 0
Uganda 1 2
Ukraine 4 0
United Arab Emirates 46 14
USA 72 37
Venezuela 1 2
Vietnam 4 5
Yemen 1 1
Zambia 22 0
Zimbabwe 16 0
3246 2174


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About Richard Trillo

I'm the author of The Rough Guide to Kenya and The Rough Guide to West Africa and co-author of The Rough Guide to First-Time Africa. I've also been co-author of Rough Guides to The Gambia and World Music. The blogs for Kenya, West Africa and First-Time Africa are a way for me to post news for readers and for readers to keep in touch with me and with info from other travellers, posting updates, news and comments. I work as a freelance writer, editor and PR consultant, and was formerly Director of Communications at Rough Guides.
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