The Latin American region is particularly prone to climate-related natural hazards. However, this article argues that natural hazards are only partly to blame for the region's vulnerability to natural disasters with quantitative evidence suggesting instead that income per capita and inequality are main determinants of natural disaster mortality in Latin America. Locally, the region's poor are particularly susceptible to climate-related natural hazards. As a result of their limited access to capital, adaptation based on social assets constitutes an effective coping strategy. Evidence from Bolivia and Belize illustrates the importance of social assets in protecting the most vulnerable against natural disasters.