Common Disasters

I’ve been having some fun with the CIA World Fact Book. Here, for your consideration, is a list of the most common natural hazards and the frequency with which each is mentioned in the Fact Book:

  • droughts (46)

  • earthquakes (44)

  • volcanism (41)

  • hurricanes (33)

  • storms (30)

  • flooding (27)

  • cyclones (20)

  • dust (20)

  • landslides (13)

  • typhoons (12)

  • sandstorms (11)

  • tsunamis (9)

  • thunderstorms (3)

  • permafrost (3)

  • mudslides (3)

  • avalanches (3)

  • tornadoes (2)

While war isn’t mentioned as a hazard per se, there are entries on the military apparatus of each nation. Many of the military write-ups are uninteresting, but the ones marked “NA” have great footnotes:

  • Afghanistan: “the military does not exist on a national basis; some elements of the former Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard, Border Guard Forces, National Police Force (Sarandoi), and tribal militias still exist but are factionalized among the various groups.”

  • Liberia: “the ultimate structure of the Liberian military force will depend on who is the victor in the ongoing civil war.”

  • Somalia: “no functioning central government military forces; clan militias continue to battle for control of key economic or political prizes.”

This entry is part of my journal, published October 25, 2003, in New York.