8 Beautiful Places Prone to Natural Disasters

Satellite image of Hurricane Irma
Satellite image of Hurricane Irma, a devastating tropical cyclone that struck the Caribbean in 2017.

NOAA/CIR / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Natural disasters are unavoidable no matter where you are, but certain places are at higher risk than the rest of the world. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other powerful forces of nature are more of a likelihood than a possibility in some regions and countries, especially those surrounded by ocean or in locations of great tectonic activity.

Disaster-prone destinations often have many protections in place to keep residents safe from danger and lessen the negative after-effects of extreme weather phenomena. Still, travelers should always be aware of the potential for natural disasters when visiting new countries.

Read about eight beautiful places around the world that are prone to natural disasters.

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Sakurajima volcano in Japan

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An East Asian island country, Japan has always been hit hard by earthquakes and tsunamis in large part because it sits in the "Ring of Fire." The Ring of Fire is a boundary in the Pacific Ocean where the Pacific Plate bumps up against other tectonic plates, producing seismic waves and active volcanoes. As of 2021, there are 111 active volcanoes in Japan.

Japan has developed many ways to combat natural disasters and save lives. Its architecture is reinforced to withstand strong tremors, it monitors volcanoes for activity, and its residents are well-versed in survival protocols. On September 1 of every year, Japan holds Disaster Prevention Day and practices emergency drills.

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The Philippines

Flooding in the Philippines

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As one of the countries most vulnerable to tropical storms and other natural disasters, the Philippines is a beautiful but dangerous place. Located in the western Pacific Ocean, it experiences an average of between eight and nine tropical storms, including typhoons, tsunamis, and cyclones, each year, not counting many that don't make it to the islands. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are also commonplace, and the Philippines, especially along the coast, is prone to flooding.

Like Japan, the Philippines finds itself located along the Ring of Fire, which helps to explain why it is so often battered by disasters. If you plan to visit the picture-perfect beaches of the Philippines, review the country's disaster preparedness materials beforehand.

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Cyclone Bulbul in Bangladesh

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Bangladesh is another beautiful place that can never seem to catch a break from natural disasters. This country, an almost totally flat nation bordered in the south by the Bay of Bengal, is located between Myanmar and India in South Asia. Bangladesh is always at risk for serious flooding during the rainy seasons.

In 2019, around two million people were evacuated just before the arrival of Cyclone Bulbul. This storm clocked a wind speed of around 80 miles per hour and covered thirteen districts. Bangladesh has many breathtaking sites to offer those who visit, but be aware that the monsoon season, referred to as barsa, typically lasts from June to October.

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The Caribbean

Hurricane Irma crashing into buildings on the coast

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Much of the Caribbean sits in "Hurricane Alley," a section of abnormally warm water in the Atlantic Ocean. Above-average temperature water tends to create perfect conditions for hurricanes. The 2020 season saw thirteen hurricanes in the Atlantic. In 2017, historic Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria devasted the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico, causing damage to critical infrastructure and power grids that took years to repair.

Different islands in the Caribbean are more susceptible to different natural disasters on land. For example, earthquakes are common in Jamaica and Trinidad, Montserrat and St. Vincent face frequent volcanic eruptions, and torrential rains affect Haiti and Cuba on a fairly regular basis. But despite these dangers, the Caribbean is still popular with vacationers.

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Anak Krakatau volcano erupting

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The vast island nation of Indonesia is well aware of Mother Nature's power, being particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic activity. The infamous active volcano Krakatoa erupted with incredible force in 1883, decimating the island of Krakatau, producing the loudest recorded sound in history, and setting off tsunamis that killed 34,000 Indonesian people on the islands of Sumatra, Java, and others.

Indonesia also experiences many earthquakes, including a magnitude-6.0 quake on April 10, 2021, that hit Java. Though not without danger, this country to the southeast of Asia is a wonderful travel destination with beautiful natural features. You're probably most familiar with Bali, one of the most well-known of Indonesia's 17,508 islands.

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U.S. Central Plains

Tornado in Russel, Kansas

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The serene Central Plains of the U.S. have always been known for tornadoes. Twisters roll through Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and other states here more frequently than other regions, earning this part of the country the name Tornado Alley. Though landlocked and not exposed to tropical storms, Tornado Alley is accustomed to severe weather because it is located at the intersection of northern- and southern-bound air masses that create storms and supercells when they meet.

The United States sees over 1,000 tornadoes annually, and the most intense of these are often found in Tornado Alley. Building codes are strict, storm shelters are common, and warning systems are regularly tested here. When visiting the Plains to take in the sprawling landscapes, brush up on tornado protocols for whichever states you visit.

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Earthquake aftermath in coastal Chile

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Chile is a country along South America's southwestern coast that is prone to natural disasters because it is on a triple junction. At the Chile Triple Junction, the Nazca, Antarctic, and South American tectonic plates meet. The Chile Rise, a mid-oceanic ridge along the Nazca and Antarctic plate boundaries, is actively being subducted under the South American plate, and this tectonic activity creates severe earthquakes. In 1960, Chile experienced the largest earthquake in the world with a magnitude of 9.8.

Volcanic eruptions are also common. An infamous 2011 eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano complex created an ash cloud that extended 45,000 feet across the continent. Chile is a popular adventure destination with starkly beautiful coastlines and mountains. But when you visit, stay alert to disasters.

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Landslide in Guizhou, China

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Some of history's worst natural disasters have taken place in China. China is at high risk of natural disasters at all times due to its climate and geographical location. Floods, earthquakes, landslides, and more occur in this densely populated Asian country. These disasters are often deadly.

In 1931, the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, flooded and left an estimated two million dead. In 2008, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake shook Wenchuan, killing at least 69,000. Overall, natural disasters have caused an estimated 195,820 deaths in China from 1989 to 2018. China continues to invest considerable time and resources into improved infrastructure and preparedness, but tourists should still be aware of potential dangers. With that said, China is well worth visiting for its culture and natural beauty.

View Article Sources
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