Natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods cause devastation around the world. Floods and hurricanes, in particular, have been strongly linked to climate change – or more specifically, rising sea levels and greenhouse gases. Other disasters, like earthquakes, date back to the formation of the earth and are predominantly caused by cracks in its crust.
Earthquakes have been recorded on all seven continents on earth. However, most take place in the three regions with the largest tectonic ridges: the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs under the Atlantic Ocean; the Alpide Belt, which stretches from the Mediterranean to South-East Asia; and the Circum-Pacific Belt, which traces the edge of the Pacific Ocean. When pressure between these tectonic plates is released this can cause a deadly quake. Your likelihood of experiencing a natural disaster is therefore largely determined by your proximity to the edge of a tectonic plate.
This study distributes all significant earthquakes, tsunamis, and deadly lightning strikes across 143 countries. Indonesia, which straddles the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ where four tectonic plates meet, ranks first as the country you are most likely to experience a natural disaster. The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 measured a lethal magnitude of 9.3 on the Richter scale and remains one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history. Mexico, on the other hand, has 19% of all lightning fatalities worldwide, largely a result of extreme seasonal tropical thunderstorms.
The following table reveals the final ranking of the countries where you are most likely to witness a natural disaster:
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The study includes all countries worldwide where sufficient data was available. The number of earthquakes between 2000 and 2017 that measured above 7.5 on the Richter scale were included in the research, along with all the earthquakes that generated a tsunami. The number of deaths due to lightning strikes in recorded history in each country was also included. Deaths, rather than the event of lightning, was applied here because lightning can only be considered a natural disaster if it causes a fatality. The percentage scores are the proportion of these disasters that happened in each country. This data was taken from Oxford University’s Our World In Data and the NOAA. The research was finalised on the 10th of March 2020.
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