The scale of the death and destruction wrought by the 2004 Tsunami in Asia shocked the world. Few disasters of this magnitude had ever been recorded. Though earthquakes are difficult to predict, questions are being asked: How many lives could have been saved if people had been more aware and better prepared? In Part 1 of this Earth Report, we go on a journey to the world's disaster hot spots. We assess what is being learned from the natural disasters that affect the lives of some 200 million people every year. And we find that even in the poorest nations, the loss of life and damage can often be reduced by modest investment in early warnings and public education.