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TACLOBAN, Philippines – While Typhoon Haiyan appears to be the deadliest natural disaster on record to hit the Philippines, the country is no stranger to major storms.
Doomed by geography and hobbled by poverty, the Philippines has long tried to minimize the damage caused by the 20 or so typhoons that hit the sprawling archipelago every year. But despite a combination of preparation and mitigation measures, high death tolls and destruction persist.
The Philippines' location in the northwestern Pacific puts it right in the pathway of the world's No. 1 typhoon generator, according to meteorologists.
The country of more than 7,000 islands is hit by more storms each year than any other nation — about four times more than countries around the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, said government meteorologist Jori Loiz. It's often the first to welcome storms that eventually hit Vietnam and China to the west, and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan to the north.
The Philippine archipelago is also located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. A strong quake last month that killed more than 220 people and destroyed thousands of homes in the central Philippines was sandwiched between two powerful typhoons — Haiyan and Usagi, which nipped the northern Philippines in September.
As many as 10,000 people are believed to have died in Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday.