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by Michael J. Shapiro | February 10, 2012

The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel warning for Mexico on Wednesday, superseding the previous warning issued last April. While much of the wording is similar to last year's advice, the new warning conveys more geographic detail about problem areas and, significantly, specifies major tourist destinations for which no advisory is in effect. The warning also links to maps of most regions.

In terms of general conditions that apply to the country as a whole, the warning begins by stating that "millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism and business," and that "there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality." Furthermore, the warning adds, resort areas and tourism destinations typically don't see the same levels of violence that are more prevalent in border cities and on major drug trafficking routes. Nevertheless, the State Department advises citizens that crime and violence are serious problems that can occur anywhere in  Mexico, and that visitors should avoid traveling to specific areas, exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region, and generally avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.

In a state-by-state breakdown, the State Department advises citizens to avoid "non-essential" travel to the state of Chihuahua (which is home to Ciudad Juárez and the Copper Canyon); the state of Coahuila; the state of Durango; the state of Nuevo Leon (except for the city of Monterrey, where one should exercise caution); the state of San Luis Potosí (except for the city of San Luis Potosí, where one should exercise caution); the state of Sinaloa (except for the city of Mazatlán, where one should exercise caution); specific areas within the state of Sonora; the state of Tamaulipas; the state of Zacatecas (except the city of Zacatecas, where one should exercise caution); the state of Michoacán (except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas, where one should exercise caution); and specific regions in the states of Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Jalisco and Nayarit.

Areas for which no advisory is in effect include Baja California Sur (home to Los Cabos), the state of Campeche, Chiapas, the state of Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, the Riviera Nayarit, the state of Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. More information is available here.