Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles In August 2016, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous region of central Italy, killing 292 people and displacing more than two thousand. The picturesque towns were hit especially hard, as they’re made up of centuries-old buildings only accessible by small, winding roads. Roughly 20 major earthquakes occur every year, and while they always lead to some degree of devastation, some regions are more uniquely equipped than others. So, which countries are best able to withstand major earthquakes, and why? Well to start, a major earthquake is defined as anything above 7.0 on the richter scale. These seismic events have caused billions in damage and killed thousands of people, but primarily as a result of poor infrastructure and inefficient response, rather than the earth’s shaking. That said, one country that is highly prepared is Chile, which has suffered 13 earthquakes of magnitude 8 or above since 1906 - one of which was a 9.5 in 1960: the largest earthquake ever recorded. The country sits alongside the ring of fire, an area of the pacific ocean where roughly 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur. So to prepare for inevitable disaster, Chile has implemented regular earthquake emergency drills, strict building codes and a comprehensive early warning system, including sirens and mobile phone alerts. The country also maintains a disaster relief agency, which regularly practices evacuations, and trains rescue crews year-round. As a result, Chile’s most recent 8.3 major quake in 2015 only saw 13 deaths, compared to more than 1,600 in 1960 according to USGS. Earthquake preparedness is not unusual for developed countries, however implementation often slips through the cracks as a result of corruption and government negligence. For instance, many builders find it cheaper to pay a bribe to a public official than to comply with strict building codes. But this is not a common practice in Chile, where people reportedly take the potential threat of an earthquake very seriously. . Another country with exceptional earthquake preparedness is Japan, which, like Chile, has a long and deadly history of frequent, major earthquakes. All new buildings must be able to sway with the earth’s shaking, and many older buildings have been retrofitted to do the same. Even more advanced are Japanese homes, most of which have special foundations that fill with compressed air when the earth shakes so that the home actually levitates. In the likely event a major earthquake strikes, all bullet trains come to an immediate halt, and TV channels switch to live coverage of relief efforts, including maps of coastal areas that are at risk of tsunamis. In 2007, Japan launched a nationwide earthquake warning system that detects tremors, determines the quake’s epicenter and sends online warnings throughout the country. It is considered the most advanced early-warning system in the world. But not all small, fault-lining countries are so prepared. In 2010, Haiti suffered a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, resulting in more than 150,000 deaths. So why were they so unprepared? In a word, money. Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth, while Chile and Japan have strong economies that are able to fund preparedness programs and emergency response measures, making a major earthquake somewhat manageable. In the end, when it comes to earthquakes, the greatest armor is wealth.