Nov 11, 2013

The Philippines Is the Most Storm-Exposed Country on Earth

Legazpi City, Albay
Philippines
by
Sophie Brown
,
TIME
A resident walks past high waves pounding the seawall amid strong winds as Typhoon Haiyan hit the city of Legazpi, Albay province, Philippines, on Nov. 8, 2013. Photo: Charism Sayat, AFP, Getty Images
A resident walks past high waves pounding the seawall amid strong winds as Typhoon Haiyan hit the city of Legazpi, Albay province, Philippines, on Nov. 8, 2013. Photo: Charism Sayat, AFP, Getty Images

Eight of the top 10 deadliest cyclones to hit the Philippines had a death toll reaching between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The deadliest storm on record was Thelma, which killed around 5,100 in 1991. Authorities fear as many as 10,000 people have died in Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda), which would make it the Philippines’ deadliest storm ever.

Situated in a vast expanse of warm ocean water on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms. With more than 7,000 islands, the coastline is vulnerable to storm surges. It’s also one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of just $4,500 in 2012. A large number of the country’s 96 million people live in areas with poor infrastructure and flimsy housing. Northern Luzon and eastern Visayas are the areas most frequently hit by tropical storms