Not so long ago, hurricanes Irma and Harvey wiped out the southeastern United States coast, so, in light of these events, we decided to make a list of the top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world.
The frequency of natural disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and storms is increasing day by day. Those two hurricanes were the most intense hurricanes in over a decade with Irma being the most intense hurricane to hit the United States since 2005. They caused catastrophic damage to Barbuda, Saint Martin, Virgin Islands, etc. Irma continued its path reaching Florida and moving through South Carolina and Georgia. A while ago we were dealing with the same topic, and as a result, we made a list of most dangerous states for natural disasters. Unfortunately, we weren’t wrong. However, there are places around the globe that we could call “safest places in the world from natural disasters” and we listed them also in our article about best places to live to avoid natural disasters.
Natural disasters are closely connected with the geographical position which makes certain countries more prone to natural disasters than others. The World Risk Report 2016 shows that global hotspots for devastating disasters are located in Oceania, Southeast Asia, Central America and Southern Sahel. Countries like Bangladesh, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea are strongly exposed to natural hazards and due to poor economic situation they are particularly vulnerable. However, some of the countries that are ranked high on the World Risk Report map will not appear on our list since the casualties and costs are not high enough. This is the case with Vanuatu, which is the riskiest place in the world to live in (at least when it comes to countries prone to natural disasters). For example, tropical cyclone Pam, at that time one of the worst disasters to hit the Pacific region, destroyed Vanuatu in 2015. 96% of food crops were destroyed, 75,000 people were in need of shelter, and yet death toll was very low – only 11 deaths were recorded. The reason why the Vanuatu death toll is so low is because people learned to adjust their lifestyle to frequent natural disasters. Although this sounds very harsh, it is the reality of these people.
As for for the rest of the world, the United States occupies a significant part of so-called “Ring of Fire” where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. It is positioned in such a way that it is highly susceptible to hurricanes, what we already mentioned. China and Philippines are vulnerable to seismic activity as well, and very often “in the way” of typhoons. As for the India, it’s always at risk of tropical cyclones and heavy precipitation. It comes as a no surprise that floods are the most common natural disaster to occur in India. Of course, these are just some of the countries most affected by natural disasters and our list will give you a complete answer to the question which countries have the most natural disasters. But, in the meantime, read about countries with most earthquakes, as well, to fully prepare yourself for what is coming.
To compile this list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world I consulted several sources including Insider Monkey’s list of most expensive natural disasters in the world, aforementioned World Risk Report for 2016, and AccuWeather’s opinion on costliest natural disasters in the world. Data regarding the human cost of natural disasters are obtained from ReliefWeb’s article and report from 2015. Besides that, United Nation’s report and The Guardian were a great help in the determination of the riskiest places to live. Since this list focuses on both, countries that are prone to natural disasters and those with most costly disasters in the world, for a while, I was brainstorming how to rank them. Eventually, I selected most expensive disasters and checked in which countries they have happened. Then, I consulted World Risk Report and ranked countries according to the risk factor data.
So, are you ready to see which are the top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world?
World risk index: 3.76%
Despite being ranked pretty low according to World Risk Report, the USA is well-known for worst and most expensive natural disasters in the world. Due to its geographical position, America is exposed to natural disasters (12.25%), but its ability to cope with the consequences is very high (48.71%) which can explain the low ranking. Most recent natural disasters to hit the U.S. are hurricanes, Harvey and Irma. According to preliminary results, damage caused by devastating hurricanes will be between $150 and $200 billion in Texas and Florida while AccuWeather President stated that the numbers could go even up to $290 billion, what would be one of the most expensive natural disasters in the United States. Unfortunately, the US is no stranger to deadliest and worst hurricanes in the history. Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused 195 deaths and $29.5 billion in damage; hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused 285 deaths and $71.4 billion in damage; hurricane Katrina in 2015 caused 1200 deaths and $108 billion in damage. The list goes on, and if you take a look at the complete figures, it is very clear why the US should be on this list.
World risk index: 6.39%
We are continuing our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world with China that is one of the countries that often suffer from natural disasters due to its various climatic zones, vast territory, and poor ecological conditions. According to a study on natural disasters in China, 558 natural disasters occurred from 1985 to 2014 with 54,086 people losing their lives. Economic losses were estimated to $874,613 million. In 2016, China was hit by floods that caused $44 billion damage and took lives of more than 883 people, and millions were relocated. In 2017, floods and landslides affected more than 7.3 million people. China is another proof that despite being ranked pretty low on World Risk Report, it is a country with worst disasters in the world especially because of high death tolls. It was placed as number one country prone to natural disasters by Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2015.
World risk index: 6.64%
According to Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2015, in the last decade India, together with the United States, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, is among top 5 countries with most natural disasters. Between 2000 and 2016 India lost $6.3 billion in 293 natural disasters and more than billion people were affected. Some of the worst natural disasters in India include 2012 Uttarakhand flash floods, 2005 Mumbai catastrophes and Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. These are only of a couple of disastrous catastrophes which show that India really belongs to the list of countries with worst natural disasters in the world.
World risk index: 6.96%
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Pakistan, the next on the list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world, is ranked as number 72 according to the World Risk Report data. Similarly, as in India, natural disasters in Pakistan have horrible consequences and very high death toll. One of the reasons for such an outcome is lack of coping strategies and the fact that Pakistan, just like India, is a very populated country. According to the article published by The Telegraph, The United Nations rated recent floods in Pakistan as the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. Death toll of 1,600 is only a fraction of 610,000 killed in previous events. Millions were left homeless and in need of food, clean water, and shelter. The cost of rebuilding roads was estimated to $59 million. Floods are one of the most common natural disasters that occur in Pakistan. According to the Federal Flood Commission, Pakistan suffered 20 major floods between 1950 and 2012 which took more than 11,000 lives. Between 2010 and 2012, 3,072 Pakistanis lost their lives in floods and costs rose over $16 billion. It is estimated that Pakistan loses around $800 million every year due to the natural disasters.
World risk index: 10.24%
Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia, the number 6 on our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world is at constant risk of natural disasters. Indonesia experiences approximately one earthquake per year (magnitude of 7 or higher) that causes casualties and damage to the environment (and economy). In Sumatra earthquake in 2004, 283,106 people lost their lives. The following year 1,348 people died and in 2006 more than 6,000. Costs of natural disasters in Indonesia are on the rise, with around $100 billion damage between 2000 and 2010.
World risk index: 11.68%
Sadly, Haiti, the next on our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world, is too accustomed to natural disasters. In 1998 hurricane Georges destroyed 80% of Haiti’s crops, killing more than 400 people. In 2004 floods killed more than 2,600 people and tropical storm Jeanne kills 1,900 while more than 200,000 are left homeless. In 2008, three hurricanes and the tropical storm killed hundreds of Haitians and caused $1 billion damage. In 2010 earthquake killed more than 90,000 people and displaced more than 1,5 million. On top of everything, Haitians had to face an outbreak of cholera (first in 150 years in Haiti) after the earthquake. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in 2016, destroying up to 90% of some areas. I’ve listed the only couple of (most recent) natural disasters that hit Haiti, and it is more than clear that Haiti is among the countries most affected by natural disasters.
World risk index: 12.99%
We’ve reached top five countries from the list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world and the numbers of casualties and financial damage are only going to rise. Personally, I believe that it is a miracle how some of these countries manage to recover after such devastating hazards. Japan is in constant danger of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mudslides. Six years ago Japan was hit by one of the worst natural disasters in the world. First, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, creating the enormous tsunami. Millions of people were affected and direct damage from the disaster was estimated to be $199 billion and total economic cost up to $235 billion. There are even some estimates that tsunami damage cost was around $300 billion. This was the most costly disaster in the world. The tsunami caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant which caused level 7 nuclear meltdown. Consequences are visible even today when thousands are still living in temporary homes as they lost their homes when the tsunami wiped out thousands of buildings. It is interesting that Japan is the only developed country with a disaster risk higher than 10%.
World risk index: 19.17%
Third place on our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world goes to Bangladesh that is ranked 6th on a World Risk Report’s list with 64.34% vulnerability to natural disasters. Due to its geographical position, Bangladesh is vulnerable to various hazards including cyclones, floods, earthquakes, droughts, and tornadoes. Floods are a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh, and they occur during every monsoon season. Some of the recent major catastrophes in Bangladesh include – cyclone in 1991 which killed 138,866 people, affected 15,438849 people and caused total damage of $1.78 billion; cyclone Sidr in 2007 which killed 4,234, affected 8,978541 people and caused economic damage of $2.3 billion and cyclone Aila in 2009 which caused the damage of $270 million, killed 190 people and affected 3,935341 people.
World risk index: 19.88%
Guatemala taht ranked second on our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world is severely affected by natural disasters, especially hurricanes, landslides and volcanic activity. According to the World Bank data, the worst catastrophe in Guatemala was a 1976 earthquake which caused estimated damage of 17.9% of country’s GDP and which killed 23,000 people. Guatemala had recurring issues with sinkholes. In 2007 Guatemala city sinkhole created a 100-meter long pit, and in 2010 another sinkhole literally swallowed a three-story factory. This sinkhole was caused by tropical storm Agatha, and more than 94,000 people had to be evacuated from the city.
World risk index: 26.70%
The Philippines are at the very top of the list of countries prone to natural disasters due to its geographical position. It is the country most exposed to tropical storms in the world. Did you know that violent tropical storms can generate ten times as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb? In other words, destructive power lurking over the Philippines is immense. The Bohol earthquake in 2013 damaged 73,000 houses, killed 222 and injured 976 people. Typhoon Bopha caused more than $1 billion damage and killed more than 600 people. Typhoon Fengshen in 2008 damaged more than 155,000 households and caused damage to agriculture and fisheries ($76.4 million), schools ($4.9 million), fishing boats ($2.5 million) and infrastructure ($17.4 million). In 2011 death toll caused by typhoon Washi reached 1,249, but that was not the final number. A number of human victims and economic damage caused by natural disasters in the Philippines is continuously crippling its growth, and it seems that very little can be done to prevent future hazards. We’ve come to an end of our list of top 10 natural disaster prone countries with the worst, most costly disasters in the world and it is sad how little can be done to prevent natural disasters from occurring again. Although some countries found effective coping strategies, developing countries are crippled by their inability to cover the costs of disasters that destroy their lands.