This paper analyses and quantifies the relative level of risk in a geographical area that is vulnerable to natural phenomena and with a high proportion of its population in a situation of residential poverty. We deduce that the hazard in the area, composed of nine Central American and Caribbean countries, is significantly higher than the world average. The first aspect is covered in the sections Population at risk and Natural phenomena, which analyse the ‘study area’. The second aspect is covered by Poverty in the ‘study area’, various analyses of the physical situation in the target area, inhabited by almost 160 million people. Contrasted information is used as a basis for the concepts underpinning the extraordinary presence and seriousness of the socio-natural phenomena in this area. The interrelationship between the degree of vulnerability and poverty leads to the conclusion that these are the primary causes of disaster-related destruction, which in a 33 year period (1972 to 2005) has left an annual average of 20,000 human lives lost, 250,000 directly affected and approximately ten billion dollars in material damage.
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