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The World Factbook. 2008.

Natural hazards

CountryNatural hazards
Afghanistandamaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Albaniadestructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast; floods; drought
Algeriamountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season
American Samoatyphoons common from December to March
Angolalocally heavy rainfall causes periodic flooding on the plateau
Anguillafrequent hurricanes and other tropical storms (July to October)
Antarcticakatabatic (gravity-driven) winds blow coastward from the high interior; frequent blizzards form near the foot of the plateau; cyclonic storms form over the ocean and move clockwise along the coast; volcanism on Deception Island and isolated areas of West Antarctica; other seismic activity rare and weak; large icebergs may calve from ice shelf
Antigua and Barbudahurricanes and tropical storms (July to October); periodic droughts
Arctic Oceanice islands occasionally break away from northern Ellesmere Island; icebergs calved from glaciers in western Greenland and extreme northeastern Canada; permafrost in islands; virtually ice locked from October to June; ships subject to superstructure icing from October to May
ArgentinaSan Miguel de Tucuman and Mendoza areas in the Andes subject to earthquakes; pamperos are violent windstorms that can strike the pampas and northeast; heavy flooding
Armeniaoccasionally severe earthquakes; droughts
Arubalies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt
Ashmore and Cartier Islandssurrounded by shoals and reefs that can pose maritime hazards
Atlantic Oceanicebergs common in Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean from February to August and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda and the Madeira Islands; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme northern Atlantic from October to May; persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September; hurricanes (May to December)
Australiacyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
Austrialandslides; avalanches; earthquakes
Bahamas, Thehurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage
Bahrainperiodic droughts; dust storms
Bangladeshdroughts, cyclones; much of the country routinely inundated during the summer monsoon season
Barbadosinfrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides
Belgiumflooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes
Belizefrequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)
Beninhot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
Bermudahurricanes (June to November)
Bhutanviolent storms from the Himalayas are the source of the country’s name, which translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon; frequent landslides during the rainy season
Boliviaflooding in the northeast (March-April)
Bosnia and Herzegovinadestructive earthquakes
Botswanaperiodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility
Bouvet IslandNA
Brazilrecurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south
British Indian Ocean TerritoryNA
British Virgin Islandshurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)
Bruneityphoons, earthquakes, and severe flooding are rare
Bulgariaearthquakes, landslides
Burkina Fasorecurring droughts
Burmadestructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Burundiflooding, landslides, drought
Cambodiamonsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts
Cameroonvolcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
Canadacontinuous permafrost in north is a serious obstacle to development; cyclonic storms form east of the Rocky Mountains, a result of the mixing of air masses from the Arctic, Pacific, and North American interior, and produce most of the country’s rain and snow east of the mountains
Cape Verdeprolonged droughts; seasonal harmattan wind produces obscuring dust; volcanically and seismically active
Cayman Islandshurricanes (July to November)
Central African Republichot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common
Chadhot, dry, dusty harmattan winds occur in north; periodic droughts; locust plagues
Chilesevere earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis
Chinafrequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence
Christmas Islandthe narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard
Clipperton IslandNA
Cocos (Keeling) Islandscyclone season is October to April
Colombiahighlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts
Comoroscyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano
Congo, Democratic Republic of theperiodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); in the east, in the Great Rift Valley, there are active volcanoes
Congo, Republic of theseasonal flooding
Cook Islandstyphoons (November to March)
Coral Sea Islandsoccasional tropical cyclones
Costa Ricaoccasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes
Cote d’Ivoirecoast has heavy surf and no natural harbors; during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible
Croatiadestructive earthquakes
Cubathe east coast is subject to hurricanes from August to November (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year); droughts are common
Cyprusmoderate earthquake activity; droughts
Czech Republicflooding
Denmarkflooding is a threat in some areas of the country (e.g., parts of Jutland, along the southern coast of the island of Lolland) that are protected from the sea by a system of dikes
Djiboutiearthquakes; droughts; occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods
Dominicaflash floods are a constant threat; destructive hurricanes can be expected during the late summer months
Dominican Republiclies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts
Ecuadorfrequent earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity; floods; periodic droughts
Egyptperiodic droughts; frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms, sandstorms
El Salvadorknown as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
Equatorial Guineaviolent windstorms, flash floods
Eritreafrequent droughts; locust swarms
Estoniasometimes flooding occurs in the spring
Ethiopiageologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts
European Unionflooding along coasts; avalanches in mountainous area; earthquakes in the south; volcanic eruptions in Italy; periodic droughts in Spain; ice floes in the Baltic
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)strong winds persist throughout the year
Faroe IslandsNA
Fijicyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Francemetropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones), flooding, volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
French Polynesiaoccasional cyclonic storms in January
French Southern and Antarctic LandsIle Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul are inactive volcanoes; Iles Eparses subject to periodic cyclones; Bassas da India is a maritime hazard since it is under water for a period of three hours prior to and following the high tide and surrounded by reefs
Gambia, Thedrought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)
Gaza Stripdroughts
Ghanadry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Greecesevere earthquakes
Greenlandcontinuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
Grenadalies on edge of hurricane belt; hurricane season lasts from June to November
Guamfrequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare, but potentially very destructive typhoons (June – December)
Guatemalanumerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
Guineahot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season
Guinea-Bissauhot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires
Guyanaflash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
Haitilies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts
Heard Island and McDonald IslandsMawson Peak, an active volcano, is on Heard Island
Holy See (Vatican City)NA
Hondurasfrequent, but generally mild, earthquakes; extremely susceptible to damaging hurricanes and floods along the Caribbean coast
Hong Kongoccasional typhoons
Icelandearthquakes and volcanic activity
Indiadroughts; flash floods, as well as widespread and destructive flooding from monsoonal rains; severe thunderstorms; earthquakes
Indian Oceanoccasional icebergs pose navigational hazard in southern reaches
Indonesiaoccasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, forest fires
Iranperiodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
Iraqdust storms, sandstorms, floods
Isle of ManNA
Israelsandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Italyregional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice
Jamaicahurricanes (especially July to November)
Jan Mayendominated by the volcano Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg; volcanic activity resumed in 1970; the most recent eruption occurred in 1985
Japanmany dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
Jordandroughts; periodic earthquakes
Kazakhstanearthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty
Kenyarecurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons
Kiribatityphoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level
Korea, Northlate spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Korea, Southoccasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Kuwaitsudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August
Laosfloods, droughts
Lebanondust storms, sandstorms
Lesothoperiodic droughts
Liberiadust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Libyahot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms
Macedoniahigh seismic risks
Madagascarperiodic cyclones, drought, and locust infestation
Malaysiaflooding, landslides, forest fires
Maldiveslow level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise
Malihot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons; recurring droughts; occasional Niger River flooding
Marshall Islandsinfrequent typhoons
Mauritaniahot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
Mauritiuscyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards
Mayottecyclones during rainy season
Mexicotsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and destructive earthquakes in the center and south, and hurricanes on the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coasts
Micronesia, Federated States oftyphoons (June to December)
Moldovalandslides (57 cases in 1998)
Mongoliadust storms, grassland and forest fires, drought, and “zud,” which is harsh winter conditions
Montenegrodestructive earthquakes
Montserratsevere hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)
Morocconorthern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts
Mozambiquesevere droughts; devastating cyclones and floods in central and southern provinces
Namibiaprolonged periods of drought
Nauruperiodic droughts
Navassa Islandhurricanes
Nepalsevere thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons
Netherlands AntillesCuracao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened; Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October
New Caledoniacyclones, most frequent from November to March
New Zealandearthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
Nicaraguadestructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
Nigerrecurring droughts
Nigeriaperiodic droughts; flooding
Norfolk Islandtyphoons (especially May to July)
Northern Mariana Islandsactive volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
Norwayrockslides, avalanches
Omansummer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Pacific Oceansurrounded by a zone of violent volcanic and earthquake activity sometimes referred to as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”; subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons) in southeast and east Asia from May to December (most frequent from July to October); tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico and strike Central America and Mexico from June to October (most common in August and September); cyclical El Nino/La Nina phenomenon occurs in the equatorial Pacific, influencing weather in the Western Hemisphere and the western Pacific; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme north from October to May; persistent fog in the northern Pacific can be a maritime hazard from June to December
Pakistanfrequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Palautyphoons (June to December)
Panamaoccasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area
Papua New Guineaactive volcanism; situated along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”; the country is subject to frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes; mud slides; tsunamis
Paracel Islandstyphoons
Paraguaylocal flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)
Peruearthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, mild volcanic activity
Philippinesastride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis
Pitcairn Islandstyphoons (especially November to March)
PortugalAzores subject to severe earthquakes
Puerto Ricoperiodic droughts; hurricanes
Qatarhaze, dust storms, sandstorms common
Romaniaearthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Russiapermafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula; spring floods and summer/autumn forest fires throughout Siberia and parts of European Russia
Rwandaperiodic droughts; the volcanic Virunga mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo
Saint Helenaactive volcanism on Tristan da Cunha, last eruption in 1961
Saint Kitts and Nevishurricanes (July to October)
Saint Luciahurricanes and volcanic activity
Saint Pierre and Miquelonpersistent fog throughout the year can be a maritime hazard
Saint Vincent and the Grenadineshurricanes; Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is a constant threat
Samoaoccasional typhoons; active volcanism
San MarinoNA
Sao Tome and PrincipeNA
Saudi Arabiafrequent sand and dust storms
Senegallowlands seasonally flooded; periodic droughts
Serbiadestructive earthquakes
Seychelleslies outside the cyclone belt, so severe storms are rare; short droughts possible
Sierra Leonedry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
Sloveniaflooding and earthquakes
Solomon Islandstyphoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earthquakes, tremors, and volcanic activity; tsunamis
Somaliarecurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season
South Africaprolonged droughts
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islandsthe South Sandwich Islands have prevailing weather conditions that generally make them difficult to approach by ship; they are also subject to active volcanism
Southern Oceanhuge icebergs with drafts up to several hundred meters; smaller bergs and iceberg fragments; sea ice (generally 0.5 to 1 m thick) with sometimes dynamic short-term variations and with large annual and interannual variations; deep continental shelf floored by glacial deposits varying widely over short distances; high winds and large waves much of the year; ship icing, especially May-October; most of region is remote from sources of search and rescue
Spainperiodic droughts
Spratly Islandstyphoons; numerous reefs and shoals pose a serious maritime hazard
Sri Lankaoccasional cyclones and tornadoes
Sudandust storms and periodic persistent droughts
Svalbardice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
Swedenice floes in the surrounding waters, especially in the Gulf of Bothnia, can interfere with maritime traffic
Switzerlandavalanches, landslides, flash floods
Syriadust storms, sandstorms
Taiwanearthquakes and typhoons
Tajikistanearthquakes and floods
Tanzaniaflooding on the central plateau during the rainy season; drought
Thailandland subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
Timor-Lestefloods and landslides are common; earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones
Togohot, dry harmattan wind can reduce visibility in north during winter; periodic droughts
Tokelaulies in Pacific typhoon belt
Tongacyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo’ou
Trinidad and Tobagooutside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms
Turkeysevere earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van
Turks and Caicos Islandsfrequent hurricanes
Tuvalusevere tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; low level of islands make them sensitive to changes in sea level
United Arab Emiratesfrequent sand and dust storms
United Kingdomwinter windstorms; floods
United Statestsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the midwest and southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development
United States Pacific Island Wildlife RefugesBaker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands: the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard
Kingman Reef: wet or awash most of the time, maximum elevation of less than 1 m makes Kingman Reef a maritime hazard
Midway Islands, Johnston, and Palmyra Atolls: NA
Uruguayseasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts
Vanuatutropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanic eruption on Aoba (Ambae) island began 27 November 2005, volcanism also causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis
Venezuelasubject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
Vietnamoccasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
Virgin Islandsseveral hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
Wake Islandoccasional typhoons
Wallis and FutunaNA
West Bankdroughts
Western Saharahot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
Worldlarge areas subject to severe weather (tropical cyclones), natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions)
Yemensandstorms and dust storms in summer
Zambiaperiodic drought, tropical storms (November to April)
Zimbabwerecurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare