Why is Vanuatu the Most Dangerous Country in the World?

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Vanuatu is the most dangerous country to live in this world due to its various highly destructive natural disasters. Four years in a row, the United Nation University Risk Index named it as the world’s most at-risk country for natural hazards. The risk for disaster does not only include storms and earthquakes, but also volcanoes or tsunamis. Name any natural calamity and Vanuatu has it.

In a country of roughly 250,000 people, earthquakes place on average 90,000 per year at risk. The three major disasters that normally hit Vanuatu every year as shown in the table below are cyclones, earthquakes, and tsunamis. It also showed that Vanuatu ranked first in terms on the cost of natural disasters or estimated average annual loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Image result for Infographics on Vanuatu's disasters

Photo Credit: World Bank as cited in Economist.com

For four years running, Vanuatu has been ranked the world’s most disaster-prone country in an annual World Risk Report released by the World Bank which is  published by the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

Strong cyclones or typhoon are the most common and destructive disasters in Vanuatu. Sixty percent (60%) of Vanuatu’s inhabitants are exposed to natural hazards every year. When a storm hits this tiny country, the entire land is affected, including the capital.

Vanuatu destruction caused by Cylone Pam

As shown in the table below, the country’s ranking of 32 percentage points in terms of risk places the little state ahead of the second place Tonga and well ahead of the third place the Philippines (24.32), as well as Solomon Islands (23.51),  Guatemala (20.88). The complete report also placed Germany and Qatar as countries which are free from riks from natural disasters. We can notice that almost all countries in the list, except Brunei, are poor, developing, or underdeveloped countries.  The only industrialized world’s most at-risk nation (17th place) is Japan with 13 percentage points.

Image result for UN risk index report 2017 infographics on Vanuatu

The worst cyclone or storm that hit Vanuatu in recent memory is Cyclone Pam. Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu late on March 13, 2015 packing wind gusts of up to 320 kilometers (200 miles) an hour, causing widespread damage in the archipelago nation in the South Pacific Ocean. This “monster” storm killed dozens, destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the buildings in the capital, and forced the nation to start anew.

Image result for Infographics on Vanuatu's disasters

Photo Credit: worldbank.org


Dillion, C. (17 March 2015) Exposed: Why Vanuatu is the world’s most ‘at-risk’ country for natural hazards. Retrieved from http://www.dw.com/en/exposed-why-vanuatu-is-the-worlds-most-at-risk-country-for-natural-hazards/a-18319825.

Taylor, A. (17 March 2015). Category 5 Cyclone Pam Devastates Vanuatu. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/03/cyclone-pam-devastates-vanuatu/388024/.