The Disaster Vulnerability Index

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Natural disasters have cost over $300 billion this year according to the insurance firm Swiss Re. This is above the yearly average and attributed to a series of events such as hurricanes in the Caribbean.

As 2018 approaches, Starling Safety has ranked 251 countries and territories worldwide to show which will be most vulnerable to natural disasters in the coming year.

The Disaster Vulnerability Index takes into account the probability of serious incidents occurring, as well as the resilience of the local authorities and their ability to respond to potential disasters.

To see more in-depth safety reports on countries and territories around the world you can register with our site for free.

At the top of the list is Haiti. The poorest country in the Americas lies in an active seismic zone and in the path of hurricanes, leaving it both vulnerable to disasters and unable to deal with the aftermath.

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, also performs badly in the index, but the country is better equipped to respond to a crisis.

The country we consider to be least vulnerable to natural disasters is Qatar. The Gulf emirate occasionally suffers dust storms and very limited seismic activity but natural disasters are almost unheard of. The authorities are also well-resourced and would be able to respond in the event of any unusual incidents.

Other countries low down on the vulnerability index included many parts of Europe, particularly the Nordic countries, as well as Switzerland, which is second best in the index.

Inevitably, areas lying on the edge of tectonic plates or in the usual path of tropical storms tend to be highest on the list.

However, one of the biggest factors affecting the index is economics. The most at-risk areas tend to be poorer countries, where the government often lacks the resources to prepare for disasters or deal with them when they occur.

As an example, Japan, which lies in a typhoon belt and in one of the most seismically active parts of the world, ranks fairly well on the vulnerability index at 139/251. Despite suffering regular disasters, the country expends vast amounts of energy building resilient infrastructure, preparing its citizens and generally strengthening itself.

The country is therefore one of the most prepared in the world, although as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami demonstrate, even the most prepared country can still suffer extensively at the hands of mother nature.

In terms of mitigating the risk of natural disaster, governments can practise readiness, ensure that building regulations are up-to-date and well-enforced and make sure that the emergency services are funded, trained and ready to respond to incidents, even if they occur in remote or inaccessible areas.

Individual travellers can prepare by researching destinations in advance, avoiding higher risk times of the year (such as hurricane season), selecting good quality accommodation and having contingency plans in place in case disaster strikes.

You can see the Disaster Vulnerability Index below. You can also read the full reports on all of these countries and territories on our travel safety website.

 

Vulnerability RankCountry/Territory
1 = most vulnerableHaiti
2Honduras
3Nicaragua
4Niger
5Philippines
6Afghanistan
7Burkina Faso
8Burundi
9Chad
10Djibouti
11Dominican Republic
12DRC
13El Salvador
14Guatemala
15Guinea Bissau
16Kyrgyzstan
17Somalia
18South Sudan
19Timor-Leste
20Algeria
21Bangladesh
22Cambodia
23Cameroon
24Central African Republic
25Comoros
26Guinea
27Indonesia
28Jamaica
29Madagascar
30Myanmar
31Nigeria
32Papua New Guinea
33Solomon Islands
34Sudan
35Tonga
36Vanuatu
37Zimbabwe
38Antarctica
39Bouvet Island
40Benin
41Colombia
42Ecuador
43Eritrea
44Fiji
45Guyana
46India
47Mali
48Mozambique
49Pakistan
50Sierra Leone
51Uzbekistan
52Venezuela
53Vietnam
54Yemen
55Somaliland
56Albania
57Bhutan
58Cabo Verde
59Ethiopia
60Gambia
61Ghana
62Liberia
63Malawi
64Peru
65Rwanda
66Suriname
67Syria
68Tajikistan
69Tanzania
70Togo
71Western Sahara
72Angola
73Belize
74Bolivia
75Bosnia and Herzegovina
76Iran
77Iraq
78Lebanon
79Mauritania
80Morocco
81Panama
82Senegal
83French Southern & Antarctic Lands
84Heard Island and McDonald Islands
85Congo
86Cote d’Ivoire
87Greece
88Kenya
89Laos
90Libya
91Micronesia
92Nepal
93Trinidad and Tobago
94Tunisia
95Uganda
96Ukraine
97Chile
98Cuba
99Dominica
100Egypt
101Gabon
102Grenada
103Kiribati
104Kosovo
105Lesotho
106Mauritius
107Moldova
108Nauru
109Palau
110Paraguay
111Romania
112Samoa
113Serbia
114St Kitts and Nevis
115St Lucia
116St Vincent and the Grenadines
117Swaziland
118Thailand
119Turkey
120Turkmenistan
121Tuvalu
122Zambia
123South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
124US Minor Outlying Islands
125Antigua and Barbuda
126Bahamas
127China
128Costa Rica
129DPRK
130Equatorial Guinea
131Georgia
132Macedonia
133Marshall Islands
134Sri Lanka
135Montserrat
136Armenia
137Azerbaijan
138Bulgaria
139Japan
140Jordan
141Maldives
142Mexico
143Montenegro
144Sao Tome and Principe
145American Samoa
146New Caledonia
147Reunion
148Argentina
149Belarus
150Botswana
151Brazil
152Kazakhstan
153Namibia
154Palestinian Territories
155Russia
156Seychelles
157South Africa
158Taiwan
159Anguilla
160Caribbean Netherlands
161Puerto Rico
162Saint Martin
163Sint Maarten
164Svalbard and Jan Mayen
165Tokelau
166Wallis and Futuna
167Croatia
168Hungary
169Italy
170Kuwait
171Malaysia
172Mongolia
173Uruguay
174Bermuda
175British Virgin Islands
176Cayman Islands
177Cocos (Keeling) Islands
178French Polynesia
179Guadeloupe
180Martinique
181Mayotte
182Saint Barthelemy
183Turks and Caicos Islands
184US Virgin Islands
185Barbados
186Brunei Darussalam
187Slovakia
188Christmas Island
189Cook Islands
190Falkland Islands
191Guam
192Niue
193Northern Cyprus
194Pitcairn Islands
195Cyprus
196Czech Republic
197Latvia
198Lithuania
199Malta
200New Zealand
201Oman
202Poland
203Saudi Arabia
204Slovenia
205South Korea
206United States
207French Guiana
208Greenland
209Norfolk Island
210Andorra
211Australia
212Austria
213Belgium
214Estonia
215Iceland
216Israel
217Netherlands
218Portugal
219San Marino
220Spain
221United Arab Emirates
222United Kingdom
223Aruba
224British Indian Ocean Territory
225Curacao
226Faroe Islands
227Gibraltar
228Hong Kong
229Macau
230Saint Helena
231Saint Pierre and Miquelon
232Bahrain
233Canada
234France
235Germany
236Singapore
237Sweden
238Holy See
239Denmark
240Finland
241Ireland
242Liechtenstein
243Luxembourg
244Monaco
245Norway
246Åland Islands
247Guernsey
248Isle of Man
249Jersey
250Switzerland
251 = least vulnerableQatar

 

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