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Natural hazards

This page shows the value of the Natural hazards information field for all countries in the Country Guide.

Notes on this field are available at the Information Field Notes page.

Afghanistan

damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding

Albania

destructive earthquakes; tsunamis occur along southwestern coast

Algeria

mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mud slides

American Samoa

typhoons common from December to March

Andorra

snowslides, avalanches

Angola

locally heavy rainfall causes periodic flooding on the plateau

Anguilla

frequent hurricanes and other tropical storms (July to October)

Antarctica

katabatic (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

Antigua and Barbuda

hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October); periodic droughts

Arctic Ocean

ice 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

Argentina

San 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

Armenia

occasionally severe earthquakes; droughts

Aruba

lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt

Ashmore and Cartier Islands

surrounded by shoals and reefs that can pose maritime hazards

Atlantic Ocean

icebergs 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)

Australia

cyclones along the coast; severe droughts

Austria

NA

Azerbaijan

droughts; some lowland areas threatened by rising levels of the Caspian Sea

Bahamas, The

hurricanes and other tropical storms that cause extensive flood and wind damage

Bahrain

periodic droughts; dust storms

Baker Island

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Bangladesh

droughts, cyclones; much of the country routinely flooded during the summer monsoon season

Barbados

infrequent hurricanes; periodic landslides

Bassas da India

maritime hazard since it is usually under water during high tide and surrounded by reefs; subject to periodic cyclones

Belarus

NA

Belgium

flooding is a threat in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Belize

frequent, devastating hurricanes (September to December) and coastal flooding (especially in south)

Benin

hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north in winter

Bermuda

hurricanes (June to November)

Bhutan

violent storms coming down 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

Bolivia

cold, thin air of high plateau is obstacle to efficient fuel combustion, as well as to physical activity by those unaccustomed to it from birth; flooding in the northeast (March-April)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

destructive earthquakes

Botswana

periodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility

Bouvet Island

NA

Brazil

recurring droughts in northeast; floods and occasional frost in south

British Indian Ocean Territory

NA

British Virgin Islands

hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)

Brunei

typhoons, earthquakes, and severe flooding are very rare

Bulgaria

earthquakes, landslides

Burkina Faso

recurring droughts

Burundi

flooding, landslides

Cambodia

monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts

Cameroon

recent volcanic activity with release of poisonous gases

Canada

continuous 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

Cape Verde

prolonged droughts; harmattan wind can obscure visibility; volcanically and seismically active

Cayman Islands

hurricanes (July to November)

Central African Republic

hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common

Chad

hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds occur in north; periodic droughts; locust plagues

Chile

severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis

China

frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts

Christmas Island

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Clipperton Island

subject to tornadoes

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

cyclones may occur in the early months of the year

Colombia

highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts

Comoros

cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

periodic droughts in south; volcanic activity

Congo, Republic of the

seasonal flooding

Cook Islands

typhoons (November to March)

Coral Sea Islands

occasional, tropical cyclones

Costa Rica

occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes

Cote d'Ivoire

coast has heavy surf and no natural harbors; during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible

Croatia

frequent and destructive earthquakes

Cuba

the east coast is subject to hurricanes from August to October (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year); droughts are common

Cyprus

moderate earthquake activity

Czech Republic

flooding

Denmark

flooding 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

Djibouti

earthquakes; droughts; occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods

Dominica

flash floods are a constant threat; destructive hurricanes can be expected during the late summer months

Dominican Republic

lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts

Ecuador

frequent earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity; periodic droughts

Egypt

periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, volcanic activity; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms, sandstorms

El Salvador

known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes very destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity

Equatorial Guinea

violent windstorms, flash floods

Eritrea

frequent droughts and locust storms

Estonia

flooding occurs frequently in the spring

Ethiopia

geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts

Europa Island

NA

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

strong winds persist throughout the year

Faroe Islands

NA

Fiji

cyclonic storms can occur from November to January

Finland

NA

France

flooding; avalanches

French Guiana

high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding

French Polynesia

occasional cyclonic storms in January

French Southern and Antarctic Lands

Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul are extinct volcanoes

Gabon

NA

Gambia, The

rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years

Gaza Strip

NA

Georgia

earthquakes

Germany

flooding

Ghana

dry, dusty, harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts

Gibraltar

NA

Glorioso Islands

periodic cyclones

Greece

severe earthquakes

Greenland

continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island

Grenada

lies on edge of hurricane belt; hurricane season lasts from June to November

Guadeloupe

hurricanes (June to October); Soufriere is an active volcano

Guam

frequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare, but potentially very destructive typhoons (especially in August)

Guatemala

numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast subject to hurricanes and other tropical storms

Guernsey

NA

Guinea

hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season

Guinea-Bissau

hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires

Guyana

flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons

Haiti

lies 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 Islands

Heard Island is dominated by a dormant volcano called Big Ben

Holy See (Vatican City)

NA

Honduras

frequent, but generally mild, earthquakes; damaging hurricanes and floods along Caribbean coast

Hong Kong

occasional typhoons

Howland Island

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Iceland

earthquakes and volcanic activity

India

droughts, flash floods, severe thunderstorms common; earthquakes

Indonesia

occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes

Iran

periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes along western border and in the northeast

Iraq

dust storms, sandstorms, floods

Ireland

NA

Israel

sandstorms may occur during spring and summer

Italy

regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice

Jamaica

hurricanes (especially July to November)

Jan Mayen

dominated by the volcano Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg; volcanic activity resumed in 1970

Japan

many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis

Jarvis Island

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Jersey

NA

Johnston Atoll

NA

Jordan

NA

Juan de Nova Island

periodic cyclones

Kazakhstan

earthquakes in the south, mud slides around Almaty

Kenya

recurring drought in northern and eastern regions; flooding during rainy seasons

Kingman Reef

wet or awash most of the time, maximum elevation of about 1 meter makes Kingman Reef a maritime hazard

Kiribati

typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low-level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to sea-level rise

Korea, North

late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall

Korea, South

occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest

Kuwait

sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April; they bring inordinate amounts of rain which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August

Kyrgyzstan

NA

Laos

floods, droughts, and blight

Latvia

NA

Lebanon

dust storms, sandstorms

Lesotho

periodic droughts

Liberia

dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)

Libya

hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms

Liechtenstein

NA

Lithuania

NA

Luxembourg

NA

Macau

NA

Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of

high seismic risks

Madagascar

periodic cyclones

Malawi

NA

Malaysia

flooding, landslides

Maldives

low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise

Mali

hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons; recurring droughts

Malta

NA

Man, Isle of

NA

Marshall Islands

occasional typhoons

Martinique

hurricanes, flooding, and volcanic activity (an average of one major natural disaster every five years)

Mauritania

hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts

Mauritius

cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards

Mayotte

cyclones during rainy season

Mexico

tsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and destructive earthquakes in the center and south, and hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts

Micronesia, Federated States of

typhoons (June to December)

Midway Islands

NA

Moldova

landslides (57 cases in 1998)

Monaco

NA

Mongolia

dust storms can occur in the spring; grassland fires

Montserrat

severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (full-scale eruptions of the Soufriere Hills volcano occurred during 1996-97)

Morocco

northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts

Mozambique

severe droughts and floods occur in central and southern provinces; devastating cyclones

Myanmar

destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts

Namibia

prolonged periods of drought

Nauru

periodic droughts

Navassa Island

NA

Nepal

severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons

Netherlands

the extensive system of dikes and dams protects nearly one-half of the total area from being flooded

Netherlands Antilles

Curacao 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 Caledonia

cyclones, most frequent from November to March

New Zealand

earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity

Nicaragua

destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and occasionally severe hurricanes

Niger

recurring droughts

Nigeria

periodic droughts

Niue

typhoons

Norfolk Island

typhoons (especially May to July)

Northern Mariana Islands

active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)

Norway

NA

Oman

summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts

Pacific Ocean

surrounded 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 phenomenon occurs off the coast of Peru, when the trade winds slacken and the warm Equatorial countercurrent moves south, killing the plankton that is the primary food source for anchovies; consequently, the anchovies move to better feeding grounds, causing resident marine birds to starve by the thousands because of the loss of their food source; 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

Pakistan

frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)

Palau

typhoons (June to December)

Palmyra Atoll

NA

Panama

NA

Papua New Guinea

active volcanism; situated along the Pacific "Rim of Fire"; the country is subject to frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes; mud slides; tsunamis

Paracel Islands

typhoons

Paraguay

local flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)

Peru

earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, mild volcanic activity

Philippines

astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis

Pitcairn Islands

typhoons (especially November to March)

Poland

NA

Portugal

Azores subject to severe earthquakes

Puerto Rico

periodic droughts; hurricanes

Qatar

haze, dust storms, sandstorms common

Reunion

periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano

Romania

earthquakes most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides

Russia

permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula

Rwanda

periodic droughts; the volcanic Birunga mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo

Saint Helena

active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha

Saint Kitts and Nevis

hurricanes (July to October)

Saint Lucia

hurricanes and volcanic activity

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

persistent fog throughout the year can be a maritime hazard

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

hurricanes; Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is a constant threat

Samoa

occasional typhoons; active volcanism

San Marino

NA

Sao Tome and Principe

NA

Saudi Arabia

frequent sand and dust storms

Senegal

lowlands seasonally flooded; periodic droughts

Serbia and Montenegro

destructive earthquakes

Seychelles

lies outside the cyclone belt, so severe storms are rare; short droughts possible

Sierra Leone

dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (November to May); sandstorms, dust storms

Singapore

NA

Slovakia

NA

Slovenia

flooding and earthquakes

Solomon Islands

typhoons, but they are rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity

Somalia

recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season

South Africa

prolonged droughts

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

the South Sandwich Islands have prevailing weather conditions that generally make them difficult to approach by ship; they are also subject to active volcanism

Southern Ocean

huge icebergs with drafts up to several hundred meters; smaller bergs and iceberg fragments; sea ice (generally 0.5 to 1 meter 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

Spain

periodic droughts

Spratly Islands

typhoons; serious maritime hazard because of numerous reefs and shoals

Sri Lanka

occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Sudan

dust storms

Suriname

NA

Svalbard

ice floes often block up 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

Swaziland

NA

Sweden

ice floes in the surrounding waters, especially in the Gulf of Bothnia, can interfere with maritime traffic

Switzerland

avalanches, landslides, flash floods

Syria

dust storms, sandstorms

Taiwan

earthquakes and typhoons

Tajikistan

NA

Tanzania

the tsetse fly; flooding on the central plateau during the rainy season; drought

Thailand

land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts

Togo

hot, dry harmattan wind can reduce visibility in north during winter; periodic droughts

Tokelau

lies in Pacific typhoon belt

Tonga

cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou

Trinidad and Tobago

outside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms

Tromelin Island

NA

Tunisia

NA

Turkey

very severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van

Turkmenistan

NA

Turks and Caicos Islands

frequent hurricanes

Tuvalu

severe tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; low-level of islands make them very sensitive to sea-level rise

Uganda

NA

Ukraine

NA

United Arab Emirates

frequent sand and dust storms

United Kingdom

NA

United States

tsunamis, 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

Uruguay

seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind which 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 in weather fronts

Uzbekistan

NA

Vanuatu

tropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanism causes minor earthquakes

Venezuela

subject to floods, rockslides, mud slides; periodic droughts

Vietnam

occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding

Virgin Islands

several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes

Wake Island

occasional typhoons

Wallis and Futuna

NA

West Bank

NA

Western Sahara

hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility

World

large areas subject to severe weather (tropical cyclones), natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions)

Yemen

sandstorms and dust storms in summer

Zambia

tropical storms (November to April)

Zimbabwe

recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare
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