Most earthquakes happen along the boundaries of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust, though earthquakes can happen anywhere on the planet. Earthquakes are also common along faults, which are deep fissures under great pressure within a plate or along multiple plates.
Quakes are particularly prevalent along the edges of the Pacific plate. In the nations of Japan, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea and Chile, as well as along the western coast of the United States, earthquakes are a regular occurrence. These areas also experience the majority of the strongest earthquakes. The strongest earthquake ever recorded measured 9.5 on the Richter scale and occurred off the coast of Chile in 1960.