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SOVEREIGN MAN

5 countries with the lowest risk of disaster

March 11, 2011
Denver, Colorado, USA

Watching the events unfold in Japan and Libya has probably given a lot of people reason to consider their own safety, wherever they live. “What if that happened where I live?” is a perfectly natural question to ask when faced with wall-to-wall coverage of horrible devastation.

It’s true that no place is perfect, and there are always going to be some risks wherever you are in the world, whether it’s California, Indonesia, or London… but if you’ve been thinking about a move overseas, and the events in Japan and Libya have you wondering which countries run the lowest risk of destruction, read on.

* To be clear, what follows is not an exhaustive list, just a few countries that stand out as being particularly low risk for destructive natural disasters, nuclear meltdown, terrorism, or Qadaffi tactics.

1) Uruguay. This fairly small nation in South America is home to few, if any, natural disasters. There is occasional flooding, but not the sort of thing that makes international headlines for its massive destruction. There are no earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic activity, etc.  There are also no nuclear plants in the country.

Uruguay also has a small, ethnically homogeneous population with a poorly funded government that’s incapable of financing totalitarian control of its people. Uruguay’s fascist military government is part of its unfortunate past, not its brighter future.

2) Poland. Devoid of any nuclear power plants, Poland also suffers negligible natural hazards except for a biting winter cold.  The country has a strong, thriving economy and barely felt the effects of the global recession– if the US caught the flu, Poland had a minor case of the sniffles.

Poland’s government is well-funded, however as a former communist nation, Polish society stands firmly against any hit of authoritarianism. Poland also has limited exposure to the Islamic immigration crisis that is plaguing much of Western Europe.

3) Singapore. In terms of natural disasters, Singapore is in the fortunate position of being encased by Borneo on one side and Malaysia to the other. As such, any typhoon or tsunami activity goes through those locations first. By the time they get to Singapore, it’s a tame tropical depression with great surf conditions.

It’s true that Singapore’s society is diverse… but the country has a history of harmonious multiculturalism.  And, despite the fact that small things like spitting are offenses, this is one of the last places in the world where the market-oriented government would turn on its people.

4) Estonia. Like Poland, Estonia lacks any real natural disasters (except cold weather) and has no nuclear facilities of its own.  Estonia is also devoid of any elements of extremism or deep ethnic conflict within its borders.

Estonia’s government is market-oriented and transparent, running a tight operation that has no room in the budget for massive police agencies and constant monitoring.

5) United Arab Emirates. You might think I’m going out on a limb here, but I would consider UAE to be a safe place from disaster. In terms of natural hazards, UAE’s biggest problem is the occasional sand storm, nothing serious.

Its first nuclear power stations are not scheduled to come online for another several years, and they will be sparing no expense to implement the latest, safest technology.

Given what else is happening in the Middle East, you might question whether the UAE would, in fact, jump on the bandwagon of opening fire on its own people. Bear in mind a few things-

First, the various emirates that make up the UAE are essentially autonomous, and the national government is very decentralized with limited power.

Second, the UAE is already the ‘freest’ place in the Middle East with limited grumblings about further reform.

Third, and most importantly, foreigners in the major emirates outnumber locals by a wide margin– in Dubai, for example, 71% of the population is comprised of foreign expats; even the police forces are made up of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis), not local Emiratis.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anon

    Uruguay is a terrible place to be. The country is ruled by some anti-rich communist asshole that’s on a taxing spree. Right now he put into place a income tax and a wealth tax. More taxes to follow, and the more taxes, the more policing… It will soon just be like US with the IRS pretty much ruling(and ruining) the country.

    • Dboy

      This is interesting. I had not heard a comment like this about Uruguay before.

      • Miferran

        Living in Buenos aires, Argentina, ten years now….no natural disasters so far. Close to Uruguay for great summer vacations.

    • Sred

      And the reason the flooding rarely makes international news is because Uruguay is a small country. Flooding happens often especially in the northwest. Also yellow fever, other diseases in that area.

    • Veo

      “Uruguay is a terrible place to be. The country is ruled by some anti-rich communist asshole”

      Bordaberry fanboy much?

  • NancyC
    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SGJIZZ7Q65T4BAOW3S5NYP27MY Political Atheist

      Not maybe, more like fact. Weather modification has been in use at least since the 50’s.

  • Domhk2000

    “Even the police forces are made up of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis), not local Emiratis.”

    As an Australian who has lived here for over 3 years I can tell you this statement is 100% incorrect as i have never and I mean never seen anything other then Emirati police officers. I have never and i mean never seen Indians or Pakistani’s acting as DUBAI police officers. And come to think of it I have never seen them in any of the other emirates I have visited…….!

    I just thought you might like to know this.

    Cheers

    • brainfree

      I was born and raised in the UAE and have lived there for 17 years and can assure you that Simon’s statements are true. That is not to say that there are no emirati police offers but rather that many of them are from South Asian countries. Even the military used to have many Pakistanis and even Sudanese member. I don’t know whether that is still the case or not. This practice seems to be common to other Gulf countries.

    • nrajeh

      A common misconception about the Arabian Gulf states and particularly The Emirates is that all nationals are born into wealth and that they consequently have no reason to apply themselves in menial jobs such as law enforcement or public sector jobs.

      On the contrary. These jobs, which are reserved by the government for its citizens, are the most sought after jobs because they afford high benefits as well as a good salary. I speak as an arab expatriate living in the Gulf (not a citizen).

      That they hardly work and refuse public sector jobs is a very condesending stereotype that can be dangerously misleading if applied to the citizens of the Emirates.

      Naturally their govenment provides for them free education and national health plans that leave nothing to be desired but they are highly educated individuals as well.

  • Szelo

    Poland is a terrible place to be. The country is ruled by some terrible politicans, all they do is spreading propaganda: how good it is now, how well poland is doing comparing to other countries :|

    In fact we have collapsing social security system, rising taxes, national debt growing like there’s no tommorow and population growth at 0,1%

    Most of young poles that i know, thing about leaving the country, we don’t really see bright future here. :)

    • Ggrere

      Poland, being mostly flat, has had severe flooding.
      Also depends on natural gas pipeline from Russia via Ukraine.
      For that reason it should not be on Simon’s list.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SGJIZZ7Q65T4BAOW3S5NYP27MY Political Atheist

    Hey Simon, welcome to Denver! Will there be a dispatch about why your globe trotting adventures bring you to the Mile High city?

    That said, this is a very timely article. Was just talking to my friend about this today over lunch.

  • Dombrunone

    Why isnt Costa Rica on the list?

    • Diogenes

      Costa Rica has multiple volcanoes, earthquakes,landslides,rising prices,a long intense rainy season, a recent Nicaragua invasion, a dense virus prone population, a marine ship offshore and a stifling bureaucracy.

  • Kevin James Johore

    Simon, you have been reading too many mainstream media PR handouts about how great Singapore is.

    1. Is the Republic financially secure? Possibly, but we don’t know. The ruling family keeps the state’s finances a secret.

    2. Can we trust their bank secrecy provisions? Yes, but only until an agent of Uncle Sam wants to have a peek at your transaction history, in which case there is probably already a line directly hard wired from the Singapore banks to the NSA . In other words, Singapore is a total 100% client state of Uncle Sam.

    3. Is Singapore a safe place to be in a catastrophe? Consider that Singapore is disliked by it’s immediate neighbors and that it depends on tenuous good will from those people who don’t like them for their daily water (over a million tons/day) and nearly all their gas for electricity (supplied via three easily sabotaged pipelines).
    – Also , from a military viewpoint, the place is indefensible. e.g. How much damage would a single large well ranged 100 year old cannon, placed far over the horizon in a neighboring country, do before it was taken out?
    – Consider also, the enormous pile of US nukes stored at Payar Lebar and Tenggah air bases. Could that make them a military target?

    4. Talk to Singapore’s lower classes – the taxi drivers and nurses. They know fully well that the governing elite is running the place for the exclusive benefit of the elite’s close family and friends. Singapore’s elite know the attitude of the lower classes full and well. That is why the soldiers guarding key Singapore installations are from third countries such as Nepal.

    I don’t know where I would want to be in times of world crisis. Certainly not Singapore or where I am now (Indonesia).There was an American guy who examined this problem in the 1930s. He decided to settle on the far away Pacific ocean island of Guadalcanal ..

    • 无业游民

      I can’t comment on other points due to the lack of knowledge or experience, but point 2 is completely wrong. Having previously worked as a bank regulator in Singapore, I can say with first-hand knowledge that Singapore banks will inform the MAS of request for information from all foreign governments and wait for the MAS to decide whether or not the request is legal or otherwise.

      I have seen actual requests from the US government that were turned down.

  • http://www.capitalistexploits.com/ Chris

    I would add that a place like Botswana, Vanuatu hold a lot of opportunity. Low pitchfork factors, inept governments (meaning small), agriculture, water all there. They are distant of course but to me thats simply a plus.

    • Morontologist

      Botswana, now that is an interesting option.

      Chris, having lived overseas for the past 10 years I have noticed how there is an enormous gap between what peoples perceptions of a country are and the reality of actually living there. This also applies to people who visit a country to “see what it’s like”. They almost always only get a very superficial experience of the particular country and nearly always succeed in missing what is really going on there.

      Do you have personal experience with living in Botswana?

      If so, what are the pros and cons of living in Botswana for someone whose objective is to live a quiet, private life as free from government interference as possible?

  • mike

    Talk about a stupid article…yea, as an American, I’m gonna consider locating in the United Arab Emirates. Ok, why not recommend the Moon? What a bunch of crackpots!

    • Advocate4Liberty

      You’d want a second (or third) passport from another country, keep the American passport under lock.

    • Diogenes

      Your obviously not a professional, otherwise you would be aware that UAE is already home to many highly paid Americans.

  • I.

    Estonia is on the border with Russia which is a unpredictable natural disaster!

  • V-man

    Estonia may have a decent political and economic regime, but it is NOT “devoid of any elements of extremism or deep ethnic conflict”.

    • V-man

      Oops, didn’t know that links are not allowed. Just look up “Bronze Night” to see what I was talking about.

  • Ansonmacdonald

    In which of these five countries can I bring my guns? Short answer, none.

    Next question, if I can’t be armed why would I go there?

    • anotheranon

      You can bring your guns to Uruguay and get a concealed carry permit.

    • hakimghoula

      Because no one else can be armed there either, thus eliminating any risk of getting shot you dumb fuck…

  • John

    Simon, thank you for this excellent guide. Anyway, i am wondering why you did not put Paraguay on the list. Especially in terms of taxation i think it’s quite better then Uruguay. Would be interesting to hear why you prefer Uruguay.

  • Chrisbecks

    South Africa is a good place to be if you want to avoid earthquakes too

    • john huscio

      Its not such a good place to be if youre
      white….

  • jbc

    Simon, this article is all over the map (pardon the pun) and misses in several areas. In any time of disaster be it natural or man-made, you want to be in a place that has the easiest access to things that will help you survive, or at least weather the storm. Singapore? Have you ever been? I have, and while an interesting, stable place in good times it relies heavily on imported goods, Authority is a way of life here. It is expensive too so bring your chequebook. A natural or man-made disaster that affects its region, let alone the tiny, densely populated city state could be devastating.

    U.A.E.? Again, have you spent much time there? I work extensively throughout the Middle East. While the Emirates are well situated to withstand a natural disaster, one that causes economic upheaval would be a catastrophe to this area which relies 100% on financial trade. They grow and manufacture practically nothing themselves. Do you enjoy 50 degrees C daytime temperatures with 80% humidity for at least 3 months of the year? In an extreme disaster that might affect their power grid you better get used to oppressive summer heat. It is also expensive as well so again, bring your chequebook. While not authoritarian on the surface, it is massively so beneath the surface.

    I can’t speak for Estonia, Poland, or Uruguay. These might be fine. They can grow their own food, and they may be stable. Estonia, like Poland is rather chilly in the winter as well. Depending where you live they might be a bit remote. Which brings up another point you missed. In a catastrophe, you want to be as close to family and friends as you can be. It is family and the ability to share resources and help each other that will carry you through.

    • dragonslayer

      I have lived in the u.a.e. As an expat for more than 2 years
      love it, no
      rain, snow, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, an occasional dust storm of minor implications, and friendly people, beautiful beaches, sunshine everyday, and hot beats snow and cold any day
      LOVE IT HERE

  • Mati

    People ! please, read one more time: “It’s true that no place is perfect”, “* To be clear, what follows is not an exhaustive list, just a few countries…”

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    I’d never thought of living in any of these locations but you’ve planted the seed in my mind to go out and do more research on them in the instance I want to take a break from the U.S.

    I’d heard great things about Singapore, economy, culture and so forth but never in context to being free from natural disasters. That’s a big selling point.

    Thanks for lending your insight to this and all the issues you do here. I love following your adventures and learning from them.

  • N2AuAgPt

    Poland may be free of natural disasters but there are numerous toxic waste sites throughout the country courtesy of the former USSR. I also seem to recall that it was unpleasantly close to the reactor at Chernobyl…

  • Tooppy

    Singapore is in the middle of the biggest volcanoes chains you can imagine, Toba, Krakatoa & Co. OK they don’t burst often and they probably won’t for what I have left to spend on this planet, but frankly they better not.

    • Mr F

      Toba is an extinct volcano and Singapore is NOT in the middle of the biggest volcanoes. Look at the map and see it for yourself!

  • fernando

    Even thought there are no nuclear plants in Uruguay, there are nuclear plants in Argentina near the border. So there is a nuclear risk, not a minor one…

    Also, I agree with Anon regarding the taxing spree here. It’s getting worse everyday, “redistribution of the income” seems to be the motto of our politicians.

  • Archie1954

    Personally I would choose a very boring place to live and one large enough to have plenty of other places to go to if your own region had any problem. Preferably a place with no enemies, a strong multicultural tradition, all the modern conveniences and no previous natural disasters to talk about. Someplace like Canada.

  • Mrblahbluh

    Singapore has dangerous snakes and scorpions as well as their drinking water is dependent on external sources… Plus people can only survive there because they use AC (air-conditioning), otherwise they would dehydrate… With out without AC it is a serious threat to health… and so is their stressful lifestyle…

    Countries like Switzerland and Denmark seems much more safe in my opinion and stable than any of those countries you listed before…

  • Thule

    Estonia is promising, but not without risks. There is a sizable Russian minority, and this has already caused serious problems. As a previous poster already told, google “Bronze night”. There is a tangible divide between Estonian and Russian speaking Estonians. Many if not most of the latter consider themselves as Russians. A source of problems, especially as Russia deliberately uses expat Russian minorities for political purposes.

    It is true Estonia has no nuclear plants, but its neighbours Russia and Finland have. Moreover Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are looking into establishing a nuclear plant by themselves. Estonia is a tiny country, and a nuclear fallout does not respect borders.

    In my opinion, northern parts of Sweden, Finland and Norway are in many ways safer than Estonia.

  • Fherrera39

    Well actually uruguay has a high standard of living especially at their capital Montevideo. I have a friend who lives there and its rely no that bad its living conditions is similar like here in the US

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