As if you needed reminding: It's dangerous out there. And if your parents' warnings that the world is full of malevolent people and mishap-prone places didn't stick, the State Department is ready to fill the void.

From the spectacular to the mundane, while terrorism grabs headlines, most problems faced by Americans abroad have nothing to do with al-Qaida but rather cutthroat con artists, corrupt officers and dismal drivers.

The colorful quirks of foreign lands, be they unscrupulous cabaret girls in Cyprus or the arbitrary enforcement of unwritten laws in Laos, are laid bare each year in safety and security reports compiled by State Department analysts for every country on Earth.

The department puts them online, mainly for employees of U.S. firms doing business abroad but are available to anyone. According to this year's updates:

_"Driving in Qatar is (like) participating in an extreme sport."

_"Police involvement in criminal activity is both legendary and true in Mexico."

_"Be aware of drink prices" in Croatia's gentlemen's clubs, where tourists can "unknowingly run up exorbitant bar bills, sometimes in the thousands of dollars."

These little publicized assessments venture beyond the bland, carefully worded travel advice the State Department is normally known for, and are often downright undiplomatic.

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