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Natural disasters - statistics & facts

Natural disasters are those adverse events resulting from natural processes of the earth. Examples of such events include earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts and fires. Many natural disasters are profoundly destructive. They leave in their wake a trail of injury, death, loss of livestock, property damage and economic loss. The event with the highest death toll since 1980 was the Boxing Day tsunami in South East Asia that claimed the lives of 220,000 people. In regards to economic damage, the most destructive natural disaster during that time was the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

China has experienced a number of the world’s most deadly disasters. In 1976, an earthquake claimed the lives of 242,000 people making it the most deadly earthquake since 1900. The country was also the victim of the most deadly flood since 1900 when 3.7 million people lost their lives in 1931. In certain countries the frequency of natural disasters gives the perception that their occurrence is somehow normal. However, in others it creates the perception they live in a thoroughly dangerous place. For example, 69 percent of Italians thought the country was the most environmentally dangerous country in the world in 2017. Fortunately for the Italians, this claim is not backed up statistically. The United States is often the most affected country, such as in 2019 when 20 natural disasters occurred.

Although natural disasters are largely seen as out of human control, human actions are at times responsible for the extremity of such events. Land use can influence the ability of an area to deal with the heavy rains that result in flooding. On a larger scale, the adverse effects of rising global temperatures may result in increasing frequencies of hurricanes and other extreme weather events in the future.

Also, the practice of fracking has been linked to the frequency of earthquakes in areas where it was conducted. This is part of the reason why a considerable portion of people in the United States felt the government should increase regulation or even ban the practice all together.


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