Which Countries Have The Most Tsunamis?

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: October 8, 2022
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Tsunamis are among the most devastating natural disasters in the world. Many of them have caused turbulent and catastrophic effects on nations around the globe, claiming millions of lives, displacing people, and costing millions of dollars in repairs. The National Ocean Service defines tsunamis as a collection of waves triggered by undersea earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Landslides or meteorite impacts can also trigger tsunamis. Read on to discover the top countries that have the most tsunamis. 

Japan – 143 Tsunamis

tsunami disaster in Japan
The Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami wrecked a lot of damage.

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According to Worlddata.info, Japan has had a total record of 143 tsunamis. However, the March 11, 2011 tsunami on the North Pacific Coast is perhaps the most memorable. The effects of the tsunami were felt even on the North American coast. Commonly referred to as the “Great East Japan Earthquake,” a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that reached depths of up to 24.4 km triggered the disaster. The tsunami claimed the lives of more than nineteen thousand people and caused over 400,000 people to relocate to various shelters, with 2,556 people reported missing. Experts estimate the resulting damage to be as much as 235 billion dollars. The tsunami is particularly famous for wreaking havoc on Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant suffered a bunch of explosions and is one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents in 25 years. 

Indonesia – 77 Tsunamis

tsunami in Indonesia
Tsunamis in Indonesia leave devastating effects on lives and properties.

A 2018 report from the UNDP describes the Indonesian archipelago as an area with a consistent risk of earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. Indonesia is located along the “ring of fire,” a part of the Pacific Ocean that experiences many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The country has a total of 77 tsunamis on record.

One of the most unforgettable ones was the tsunami triggered by the 2004 earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26. The tsunami was primarily responsible for the death of over 200,000 people, and property losses reached 10 billion dollars. The devastating Sumatra tsunami was as tall as 50 m and is one of the most recorded natural disasters in history. Again in 2010, a 7.2 earthquake off the coastal islands of Sumatra ignited a regional tsunami that killed approximately 500 people. An earthquake-driven tsunami equally hit the island of Java in 2006. It killed 668 people and injured over 1400 people. 

Chile – 44 Tsunamis

Chile has had over 44 tsunamis caused mainly by coastal earthquakes. A tsunami triggered by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred on April 1, 2014. It killed four men and one woman and cut the power off. This was, however, a minor incident as opposed to the more catastrophic tsunami that occurred in Chile on February 27, 2010. The convergence of two tectonic plates triggered a tsunami whose effects reached the coasts of California, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan. A 2014 study revealed that the seismic event even caused several small earthquakes in Antarctica. It caused the death of 150 people, destroyed about 400,000 homes, and halted copper production for a while.

United States – 74 Tsunamis

Many of the states in America have exposed coastlines and are most at risk of tsunamis. Historically, the US has recorded 74 tidal waves classified as tsunamis. The worst hit states include California, Oregon, and Washington. One of the worst tsunamis to ever occur in the US was the 1946 Alaska/Hawaii tsunami that occurred on April 1. While there was minor damage in Alaska, Hawaii took most of the hit, with 4.2 billion dollars in damages and 159 deaths.

Italy – 71 Tsunamis

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The tsunamis in Italy are numbered to be about 71.

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Italy has a recorded history of 71 tsunamis. However, one of Italy’s most devastating ones occurred in 1908. The catastrophic event occurred in Messina, and the magnitude of the earthquake reached about 7.5 on the Richter scale. The tsunami brought 40 feet waves that subsequently crashed on the coasts of northern Sicily and Southern Calabria. Eighty thousand people reportedly died in the disaster. This tsunami has sparked scientific and intellectual debates to date. For several decades, scientists believed that seafloor displacement triggered the tsunami. However, 21st-century research unveiled an underwater landslide unrelated to the earthquake as the dominant cause of the tsunami. 

Greece – 25 Tsunamis

tsunami wave
Historically, Greece has played host to about 25 tsunamis.

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Greece is another notable country on this list of countries with the most tsunamis. Historically, Greece has recorded several devastating tsunamis. The October 30, 2020 earthquake, which was deemed the year’s deadliest, occurred northeast of the Greek island of Samos. The tsunami occurred about fifteen minutes after the mainshock, and the flooding swept through Azmak, Azaria, and Sigacik. Across Izmir in Turkey and Samos, Greece, 15,000 were left homeless, and 119 people died. Also, over a thousand people suffered injuries. The total damage cost about 400 million dollars.

Peru – 24 Tsunamis

Peru has had several tsunamis caused by coastal landslides. In June 23, 2001, a tsunami generated by the earthquake caused significant damage hit the country. Three thousand people died, and sixty-two people were reported missing. The Peru earthquake triggered tsunamis in other areas such as Mexico, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Fiji, Samoan Islands, Tonga, and Russia. Most of the small nation’s population is highly knowledgeable about earthquakes and tsunamis. This helped to reduce casualties, coupled with the fact that the area was not populated with tourists as it usually is during summers.

Conclusion

It is important to note that these aren’t the only nations devastated by tsunamis. Several others suffer from tsunamis and related natural disasters periodically. However, these are the countries that have suffered several major tidal waves over the years.

Up Next 

Discover the Largest Tsunami Known

The 5 Biggest Earthquakes on Earth: When and Where Did They Happen?

The 12 Most Devastating Earthquakes of All Time

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.

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