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The Countries Hit Most by Earthquakes

Turkey earthquake damage in Diyarbakir
Data was recently released by Statista revealing the top eight most earthquake-prone countries in the world. Credit: VOA / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Many parts of the word experience strong earthquakes from time to time, but for some countries earthquakes are far more common.

Natural disasters are often unavoidable, but knowing where they are likely to strike can help scientists, emergency services, and civil authorities to better prepare.

Recently, data was released by Statista examining seismic activity zones over a 32-year period. The data reveals the top eight most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

What causes an earthquake?

“An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane,” says Lisa Wald of the United States Geological Survey (USGS),

The hypocenter is the point beneath the Earth’s surface where a tremor or earthquake starts. The position directly above it on the Earth’s surface is called the epicenter.

Sometimes smaller foreshocks precede the main earthquake, called a mainshock, although seismologists cannot tell these apart until after the mainshock has occurred. Aftershocks will always follow a mainshock and will sometimes continue for weeks, months, or even years. Foreshocks, mainshocks, and aftershocks all occur at the same point.

Although most seismologists agree that earthquakes cannot be predicted, forecasts in areas where earthquakes are more commonly known to occur can be carried out. Most earthquakes around the world occur on faults of tectonic plate boundaries.

In light of the earthquake which devastated parts of Turkey and Syria this week, Statista – a data and statistics portal – gathered data from between 1990 and 2022, to assess which parts of the world are the most earthquake-prone.

Top 8 Most Earthquake-Prone Countries

8. Philippines

According to Statista, the Philippines is the eighth most earthquake-prone country in the world. Between 1990 and 2022, the Philippines experienced 52 recorded earthquakes.

The Philippines is frequently affected by seismic activity due to its position along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which also causes volcanic activity. Earthquakes are common due to the meeting of two tectonic plates in the region.

7. India

India is the seventh most earthquake-prone country in the world. India was struck by 57 earthquakes between 1990 and 2022.

India’s high earthquake frequency is due to its location near the plate boundary zone between the India and Eurasia plates.

The India plate moves northward at approximately 4 cm/year and collides with the southern margin of the Eurasia plate, making it the largest collision zone on Earth.

6. Turkey

Turkey, which was recently battered by an earthquake on February 7, is the sixth most earthquake-prone country. Between 1990 and 2022, Turkey experienced 58 recorded earthquakes.

Most of Turkey is situated on the Anatolian Plate. The country is earthquake-prone because this place borders two major fault lines, the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian fault.

5. The United States

Between 1990 and 2022, the United States experienced 77 earthquakes, making it the fifth-highest country in earthquake frequency.

Most earthquakes in the United States occur in the western portion of the country. This is because it is close to the western boundary of the North American plate.

4. Japan

94 earthquakes have been recorded in Japan between 1990 and 2022. It is therefore the fourth most earthquake-prone country in the world.

Japan is situated in the Pacific earthquake belt. Its long and complex coastline is vulnerable to tsunamis. Earthquakes, as well as other phenomena like volcanoes, can cause large displacements of water, in turn causing tsunamis.

3. Iran

Iran is the first country on the list with a number of recorded earthquakes in the triple digits between 1990 and 2022. During this time period, Iran experienced 108 earthquakes.

A number of major geological fault lines cut across Iran. The Arabian, Indian, and Eurasian tectonic plates all meet at various points in Iran, which is why the country is so earthquake-prone.

2. Indonesia

161 earthquakes were recorded in Indonesia between 1990 and 2022. Indonesia is within the boundary of 3 major tectonic plates, specifically: the Indian-Australian, Eurasian, and Pacific plates.

Like the Philippines, Indonesia is also located within the Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, responsible for the region’s frequent seismic activity.

1. China

According to the data compiled by Statista, China is the most earthquake-prone country in the world. Between 1990 and 2022, China experienced 182 recorded earthquakes.

Like the other countries on the list, China is located within a region of high tectonic activity. Parts of China are located at the points where the  Eurasian, Pacific, and Indian Ocean plates meet.

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