Mortality is simply the rate at which people die in a country. The death rate is the number of deaths per 1 000 people and measured as deaths / total population * 1 000

Countries with highest death rates are mostly found in Sub-Saharan African countries including Liberia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe having a 20 per 1 000 deaths or more. Conversely countries such as Mexico and Kuwait have low death rates (2 per 1 000).

Several factors influence the overall mortality or death rate of a country.

Health Habits

The health habits of people influence whether they will live long or short. For example smoking. It is more likely that people who smoke will rarely exceed 50 or 60 years. A country with a high smoking population will experience a high death rate and a low life expectancy.


Unhealthy eating habits can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and possibly death. In MEDCs most people usually die of cancer.


Pandemics such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic has claimed millions of lives particular Africans since its debut in the late 1980s. Endemics which covers a particular area such as the Ebola Virus and typhoid also results in a significant number of deaths particularly again in LEDCs. The lack of health facilities, poor technology, untrained staff and the inability of people to afford these health facilities exacerbates human death which is caused by some of these pandemics.

Human Conflict/Wars

Some human fatalities is caused by human conflict and wars. The Second World War was one of the bloodiest wars in human history claiming lives of nearly 60 million including both the army and civilians.


Countries, especially along the Middle East have high cases of terrorism. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram kidnaps, keep hostages and murders people. Some of these terrorist attacks are caused by racial and religious differences.

Xenophobia and Genocide

Xenophobia is the total dislike or contempt for foreigners( which leads to the killing of others) while geonocide is the systematic killing of people based on race, religion, nationality etc. Both of these increase mortality rates. A good example of Xenophobia is that in South Africa on different nationalities including Zimbabwe.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters such as volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, famines(drought) among others are some top causes of mortality in the world. Some deadliest disasters include the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami claiming 280 000 lives, 1931 China floods (1 000 000-4 000 000 lives), 1815 Mt Tambora eruption (71 000+ lives), 1958-1961 Great Chinese Famine (15 000 – 43 000 000 lives) and others.


This and others are some of the leading causes of mortality in the world or on a national scale. However, some causes of mortality are specific.

Child mortality, maternal mortality etc have different specific causes of mortality which is better described alone.

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