Human beings are one of the very few species of animals on the planet known to be able to kill pathologically and without logic or justifiable cause. Thankfully, the sorts of people inclined to murder others in this way are very small in number. They are, of course, spread around the world. That said, they do seem to be concentrated in certain pockets of the globe.
This is a list of the countries with the most documented serial killers.
For reference, we've used data and statistics from the independent demographic information experts over at World Population Review.
1. United States — 3,204
Ask anyone to name as many multiple murderers as they can and they’ll likely reel off quite a few from the United States.
Defensive Americans could present an argument that, although there has been a sizable number of serial murderers in the US over the years, it’s problematic to compare figures between nations. They may opine that serial killing is an intricate and diverse phenomenon so it is hard to categorise, quantify and contrast in light of various historical and cultural factors.
While it’s hard to pinpoint specific reasons for the huge numbers of recorded serial killers, it’s not hard to make a list of some of the names: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Arthur Shawcross, Gary Ridgway, Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wuornos, Jerry Brudos, Dennis Rader, Richard Ramirez.
2. England — 166
It may be a somewhat distant second, but England takes the unwanted silver medal.
From Jack the Ripper, the world’s most infamous uncaught and unknown serial killer of 1880s London, to the notorious killing couple of Fred and Rose West, England has a grim history of repeat killers. It also features the evil likes of Dennis Nilsen, Peter Sutcliffe, Amelia Dyer, John Christie and one of the world’s most prolific ever serial killers, Dr. Harold Shipman.
3. South Africa — 117
Africa isn’t a continent famous for its well-known serial murderers. Yet its sixth most populous country features third in the list of global nations here.
Pierre Basson, who killed nine individuals between 1903 and 1906 is South Africa's first known serial murderer. Moses Sithole, the so-called ‘ABC Killer’ (named because he targeted victims from the Johannesburg suburbs of Atteridgeville, Boksburg and Cleveland), who raped and murdered at least 38 women in the mid-1990s, is undeniably The Rainbow Nation’s most well-known repeat killer.
4. Canada — 106
A country renowned for its friendly demeanour, Canada isn’t a place most folk think of when talk turns to the depraved actions of evil killers. Yet, be it a by-product of its proximity to its neighbours to the south, The Great White North has something of a history of serial killers.
In addition to the truly shocking case of ‘The Pig Farm Killer’ Robert Pickton, Canada played host to the stomach-churning ‘Schoolgirl Murders’ carried out by Paul Bernando and Karla Homolka.
5. Italy — 97
While Italy completes the top five, serial killing is still pretty rare over there. In fact, barring the infamous Il Mostro, only the most dedicated of true crime buffs are likely to be able to name many Italian serial killers.
Those that could, might mention Giorgio Vizzardelli, Ferdinand Gamper, Giorgio 'The Hyena of San Giorgio' Orsolano, Roberto Succo, Andrea Volpe and Pietro Guerrieri (members of the Satanist cult known as ‘The Beasts of Satan’), Wolfgang Abel and Marco Furlan.
6. Japan — 96
Japan is the Asian nation with the most confirmed serial murderers. However, it’s possible that other Asian nations like China, India, or North Korea might have more.
The Drumstick Killer Sachiko Eto, a cult leader who used a pair of Taiko drumsticks as her murder weapon, and gallbladder trophy killer Katsutaro Baba are two of Japan's more noted serial murderers.
7. Germany — 85
Back in the 1920s, at least 24 young men were killed by Fritz Haarmann, known as ‘The Butcher of Hanover’. In terms of numbers, Niels ‘The Killer Nurse’ Högel, who was found guilty of killing at least 85 patients between 2000 and 2005, stands out. In terms of horror, however, Fritz Honka - who murdered and decapitated four women in the seventies and hid their body parts around his apartment - is worth mentioning.
Peter Kürten, often known as the ‘The Vampire of Düsseldorf’, committed nine murders also in the 1920s and remains the most infamous of all killers from The People’s Land.
8. Australia — 81
Over the years, Australia has produced several notorious serial murderers. Ivan Milat, who murdered seven travellers in the 1990s and inspired the Wolf Creek films, is one of the most well-known. William MacDonald, known as the ‘The Moorhouse Murderer’, killed six people in the 1960s.
‘The Family Murders’ in Adelaide in the 1970s, which resulted in the deaths of five young men, shook the country. As did ‘The Bodies in Barrels’ (aka ‘The Snowtown Murders’) case, which occurred more recently, where John Justin Bunting, Robert Joe Wagner and James Spyridon Vlassakis killed at least eight individuals and stored their corpses in barrels.
9. India — 80
For a country of 1.5 billion, you might expect India to have produced more serial killers. Likely it has and the records are just a little sketchy. Even taking that possibility into account, it's still fairly rare.
Famous 20th and 21st century examples include Raman Raghav, a killer who operated in Mumbai in the 1960s and was responsible for the deaths of at least 41 people, as well as Auto Shankar, a gangster and serial killer who operated in Tamil Nadu in the 1980s, killing nine people. The reviled Surinder Koli was also responsible for the rape and murder of several children and young women in the 2000s.
10. Russia — 73
It may seem surprising to see a country as huge as Russia, one with such a violent past and present, so low down on the list. As well it might. The reality is that the true number of Russian serial killers is likely higher than 73, but it’s speculated that Russia has covered up some of their serial murderers.
Those that have made national and international news include the likes of Alexander Pichushkin, Mikhail Novosyolov, Irina Gaidamachuk, Mikhail Popkov, Vasili Komaroff and Andrei Chikatilo.