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While this is one of the friendliest cities around, like any large U.S. city New Orleans has its share of violent crime, and at times the murder rate has been among the nation's highest -- although rural Louisiana also ranks high for violent crime (the state as a whole has carried the dubious distinction of the nation's highest murder rate).
As in most urban areas, much of the violent crime is in the poorest neighborhoods, areas where a tourist is not likely to venture. The French Quarter and other more visited areas are generally safe.
Visitors should take the same care here as in other big cities in the U.S. Before venturing out by yourself, become familiar with the neighborhoods. The damage from Hurricane Katrina has literally changed the landscape, however, so how this affects safety in various areas is an open question.
One unique hazard is in the city's unique above-ground tombs. While fascinating to see, the burial vaults sometimes provide good hiding places for robbers, so tourists are advised to tour them in a group.
As always, looking too much like a tourist or flashing expensive jewelry are not a good idea.