Earthquakes are one of the most destructive natural disasters, capable of causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure and loss of human life within seconds. An earthquake is caused by the sudden release of built-up stress in the earth’s crust, resulting in seismic waves that make the ground shake violently. While earthquakes can happen almost anywhere, certain countries are prone to more frequent and intense seismic activity. This article will examine the countries hit by the most earthquakes from 1990 to 2024. Tracking earthquake patterns over time and location is crucial for understanding seismic hazard risks and developing effective preparedness strategies around the world. Beyond causing immediate destruction, severe earthquakes can have long-lasting environmental, economic, and social impacts. With populations and cities continuing to grow in earthquake-prone regions, the threat posed by these natural disasters is rising. This article will provide an informative overview of the countries that have been impacted the most by earthquake activity over the past few decades.
This section lists the countries hit by the most earthquakes from 1990 to 2024. The following table shows the top 8 countries ranked by number of earthquakes experienced.
|Number of Earthquakes
China tops the list for the most earthquakes from 1990 to 2024 with 186 major quakes. This is not surprising given China’s massive land area, large population, and location along major fault lines. The Tibetan Plateau in western China sits near the collision point of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates, making it prone to frequent earthquakes. Major cities like Chengdu, Kunming, and Chongqing regularly experience tremors originating from the plate boundaries. The Chinese government has invested heavily in earthquake monitoring and response capabilities. Networks of seismic stations across the country can quickly detect quakes and issue warnings. Emergency personnel regularly conduct preparedness drills and training. Building codes have improved, with reinforcement to withstand tremors. Public education campaigns teach safety procedures like “drop, cover, and hold on” during ground shaking. While China faces a high earthquake risk, preparedness efforts have greatly reduced casualties from major quakes. Continued vigilance and public awareness are key to minimizing loss of life.
Indonesia is an archipelagic country located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it one of the most seismically active regions on Earth. Between 1990-2024, Indonesia experienced 166 major earthquakes, ranking 2nd behind China globally. Indonesia’s position along the highly active Pacific Ring of Fire zone makes it vulnerable to frequent seismic activity. The Indonesian archipelago sits atop multiple tectonic plates which move and shift, generating frequent quakes and volcanic activity. To mitigate earthquake risks, Indonesia has implemented disaster preparedness programs, emergency response training, evacuation drills, stronger building codes, and a tsunami early warning system. However, challenges remain due to the country’s vast geography across over 17,000 islands. Further improving earthquake resilience and response capabilities remains an ongoing priority.
Iran experiences frequent earthquake activity due to its location on the boundaries of several tectonic plates. Iran experiences frequent quakes due to its location near the boundaries of the Eurasian and Arabian tectonic plates. The Iranian plateau is constantly deforming as these plates move, resulting in earthquakes. Major faults running through Iran including the North Tabriz Fault, the Mosha Fault and the Dasht-e-Bayaz Fault regularly produce earthquakes. While Iran has made some improvements to earthquake-resistant construction and preparedness, the risk remains high due to older vulnerable structures. Public education on earthquake safety and retrofitting older buildings will be key to reducing risk. Iran is focusing more efforts on earthquake early warning systems which can automatically stop trains and elevators and get people to safety when a quake is detected. Further improvements in building codes, emergency response, and public awareness will help Iran become more resilient to major quakes.
Japan experiences frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Situated at the meeting point of several tectonic plates, Japan has a long history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. To mitigate earthquake risks, Japan has implemented strict building codes, emergency response systems, and public preparedness trainings. Earthquake early warning systems provide seconds to minutes of advance notice about impending strong shaking. Educating citizens on taking immediate protective actions like “Drop, Cover, Hold On” helps reduce causalities. Ongoing preparedness and vigilance is key for Japan given the certainty of future seismic events.
The United States ranks 5th for the countries most affected by earthquakes from 1990-2024, with 78 major quakes occurring during this period. The main regions exposed to earthquakes in the US are along the famed San Andreas fault line in California and the New Madrid Seismic Zone spanning Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In order to mitigate earthquake risks, the US has implemented strict building codes in quake-prone regions, preparedness drills and response plans, and early warning systems. However more can be done to strengthen infrastructure against seismic activity and ensure communities are protected when the ground starts shaking. With earthquake risk remaining high across multiple US states, continued focus on planning, preparedness and prevention is required.
During the period from 1990 to 2024, the countries that experienced the highest number of earthquakes were China, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, and the United States. These countries all sit on or near major fault lines and tectonic plate boundaries, making them prone to seismic activity and earthquakes. The high earthquake counts highlight the need for preparedness and mitigation efforts in earthquake-prone regions. Though predicting exactly when and where quakes will strike is difficult, being aware of earthquake risk and taking measures to reinforce infrastructure and educate populations can significantly reduce injuries, damage, and loss of life when the inevitable tremors hit. This review of countries hit by the most earthquakes over a 35-year period highlights some of the world’s shakiest spots. But earthquakes can strike almost anywhere, meaning preparedness is wise globally. Individuals and communities should learn about earthquake risks in their region, make preparations, and remain vigilant, as the seismic forces that shape our dynamic planet never sleep.