With a population density of almost 449 inhabitants per km2 and 56% of its population living in the coastal municipalities, Puerto Rico’s population is highly vulnerable to hazards; particularly, those who are economically disadvantaged, less prepared, and under social inequitable conditions, such as insufficient infrastructure and services. Today, more than half of the population lives in the San Juan Metropolitan Area. The coastal zone of the San Juan Metropolitan Area as well as other coastal areas is where most hotels, essential infrastructure, and electric power plants are located (some power plants are less than 160 feet from the waterline and less than six feet above sea level). Rapid urbanization that occurred during past decades has drastically covered Puerto Rico’s watersheds with impervious surfaces. As a result, there are thousands of people living in flood-prone areas. Landslide hazards are also a growing concern in Puerto Rico. Bursts of heavy rainfall from intense storms trigger numerous landslides in the mountain areas of the island every year, causing substantial property damage and sometimes loss of life. (Puerto Rico Climate Change Council, 2015).
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.