The main drivers of the earthquake risk are older buildings, high earthquake hazard, and urban areas. The highest earthquake risk and thus the most severe consequences of earthquakes are expected in urban areas located in regions with a comparably high earthquake hazard.
Examples of places with high earthquake risk are in urban areas, such as the cities of Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey, Catania and Naples in Italy, Bucharest in Romania, and Athens in Greece, many of which have a history of damaging earthquakes. In fact, these four countries alone experience almost 80% of the modelled average annual economic loss of 7 billion Euros due to earthquakes in Europe. However, also cities like Zagreb (Croatia), Tirana (Albania), Sofia (Bulgaria), Lisbon (Portugal), Brussels (Belgium), and Basel (Switzerland) have an above-average level of earthquake risk compared to less exposed cities, such as Berlin (Germany), London (UK), or Paris (France).
Regions in Europe with a lower population density, such as the Nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and a low to moderate earthquake hazard, on the other hand, have a lower earthquake risk relative to other areas in Europe. Iceland is known for its high level of earthquake activity. However, due to its low population and building construction characteristics, the earthquake risk is limited compared to other European regions, except for the capital Reykjavik and the surrounding towns.