People of all nations face risks associated with the natural and technological hazards described throughout this book, and almost all eventually become victim to disaster. Throughout history, civilizations have adapted to their surroundings in the hopes of increasing the likelihood of survival. As societies became more organized, complex systems of response to these hazards were developed on local, national, and regional levels.
The capacity to respond achieved by individual nations can been linked to several factors, including propensity for disaster, local and regional economic resources, organization of government, and availability of technological, academic and human resources. However, it is becoming increasingly common that the response ability of individual nations is insufficient in the face of large-scale disaster, and outside assistance must be called upon. Disasters that affect whole regions are not uncommon, and require these same international response mechanisms.