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10 Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

With an abundance of earthquakes, storms, and floods descending on our planet every year, it’s important to be aware of the best places to live to avoid natural disasters.

World Risk Report 2016 says that the two years between 2013 and 2015 brought with them more than 850 natural disasters, causing damage worth approximately $275 billion. Although this is much less than the estimated $650 billion damage that occurred in 2010 to 2012, it is still a hefty number, a number that needs to be controlled and soon. Unfortunately, even experts on the subject cannot predict precisely when a calamity may strike, so natural disasters can’t be prevented altogether but the destruction they cause can be mitigated to a certain extent if precautionary measures are taken.

10 Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Martin M303/

For example, a place that experiences heavy rain on a frequent basis should encourage planting of trees. This suggestion seems strange but the truth is that trees can, to some extent, reduce the damaging effects that a flood has the ability to leave behind. This is because trees increase water absorption into the ground, saving the rivers from overflowing.

For an earthquake prone place, it’s wise to teach people, especially those working in tall buildings, how to handle an earthquake scenario. Buildings can also be customized accordingly, like in Japan, where buildings are constructed with shock absorbers. Since two of Japan’s most important cities are among the 7 Biggest Cities that are on a Major Earthquake Fault Line, it is a good example of a country that very effectively manages the dangers it faces from natural disasters.

Storms, cyclones, and tornadoes are often predicted quite accurately with the help of state-of-the-art technology, which comes in extremely handy for keeping people safe. Citizens are often notified beforehand, causing them to remain in their homes and take any necessary precautions. But sometimes, even weather experts fail to identify what nature holds in store. Therefore, it is a great idea to know the best places to live to avoid natural disasters. These are countries that have been lucky in the past and appear to have a bright future.

To compile our list, we referred to the aforementioned World Risk Report 2016, a publication of the United Nations University, which analyzes 171 countries based on their exposure to natural disasters and their vulnerability to them. Exposure has more to do with whether or not a nation is located in an area that is at a high risk of having earthquakes, floods, storms, etc. Vulnerability, however, has three components that define the country’s ability to control damage: Susceptibility, lack of coping capacity, and lack of adaptive capacity. This means that a more developed country is a safer place, but which are the safest ones? The ones that are least exposed and least vulnerable? Let’s find out.

10. Sweden

Risk index: 2.12%

Sweden is a highly industrialized and urbanized country with more than 85 percent of its population enjoying residence in urban areas. Its development has earned it an excellent rating in the categories of adaptive and coping capacities. Its adaptive capacities are especially commendable being one of the best among all the nations.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

9. The United Arab Emirates

Risk index:  1.97%

The first of many Middle Eastern countries that will find a place on our list of best places to live to avoid natural disasters, UAE is home to the famous city of Dubai and the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. The UAE has been blessed with a low exposure to natural disasters, a lucky fact for all the innumerable towering structures that reside here.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Ashraf Jandali/

8. Kiribati

Risk index: 1.78%

The low exposure to disasters that Kiribati enjoys has resulted in it being categorized as one of the safe havens of the world. It is actually quite vulnerable, ranking extremely low in all the components, but an exposure of merely 3.05 percent has served as saving grace for the nation.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters


7. Bahrain

Risk index: 1.69%

Located in the Middle East, Bahrain is one of the few Arab countries that has lessened its reliance on oil and dabbled in other industries to be able to have a more sustainable future. Maybe this is one of the reasons that it is not very vulnerable to natural disasters. However, the UNU did rank it quite low in the adaptive capacities category, so it still has some work cut out for it.

6. Iceland

Risk index: 1.52%

Iceland is one of the eight countries that rank very low in all categories, resulting in a low-risk index as well. It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, which means there is plenty of space for people who choose to move to Iceland out of all the countries on our list of the best places to live to avoid natural disasters.

10 Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters


5. Grenada

Risk index: 1.42%

Like Kiribati, Grenada is an island nation and does not do well in the vulnerability department. It ranks a bit better on the list of best places to live to avoid natural disasters, though, which is why even with a higher percentage of exposure risk, Grenada seems to be safer than Kiribati.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Lisa Belle Larsen/

4. Barbados

Risk index: 1.32%

The beautiful island country of Barbados enjoys an exposure risk percentage of only 3.46 percent. Quite a fortunate scenario considering all the tourists that continuously flock there to take in its natural beauty.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters


3. Saudi Arabia

Risk index: 1.14%

Saudi Arabia is the third Middle Eastern country on our list of best places to live to avoid natural disasters, though definitely not the last. This nation is often criticized for its almost exclusive dependence on oil, but the royal family refuses to take anyone’s advice. For now, however, it enjoys the status of a highly developed, comfortably running country that appears to have a minimal threat from natural disasters.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Fedor Selivanov /

2. Malta

Risk index: 0.60%

This tiny European nation possesses the second lowest exposure risk percentage in the world, making it an excellent place for all of you who are seeking safety in the future. However, considering its tiny area covering merely 122 square miles, it is quite densely populated.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Arseniy Krasnevsky/

1. Qatar

Risk percentage: 0.08%

It’s not at all surprising that the country that takes the number one spot on our list of the best places to live to avoid natural disasters is also located in the Middle East. Qatar does well in each category of the study. It is a highly developed country that ranks among the top when it comes to income per capita. Obviously, its huge oil reserves played an enormous role in bringing the nation the riches it has today. Even the UN has recognized the progress Qatar has made labeling it the best country for human development among all the Arab states. All these facts combined indicate that Qatar is not at all vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters. Nature has proved lucky for the nation as well considering that it is the least exposed out of all the countries included in the study, with an exposure risk percentage of 0.28 percent.

Best Places to Live to Avoid Natural Disasters

Rudil Adha Bin Awang /