The Poorest Countries in the World

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The poorest countries in the world face significant challenges in their economic development and their populations’ well-being. These countries, many of which are located in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, grapple with issues such as extreme poverty, limited access to health care and education, political instability, and environmental pressures. One measure of a country’s wealth is gross national income. (Some of the poorest countries also rank among the 30 least happy countries in the world.)

GNI is a useful measure of a country’s wealth as it takes into account both the income generated domestically and income earned from abroad for a more comprehensive reflection of a nation’s economic performance. 

When the total GNI of a country is divided by its population, GNI per capita can provide insights into a nation’s standard of living. For example, residents of countries with the lowest GNI per capita often have low life expectancies as such countries often struggle to provide basic necessities for their populations. 

To determine the poorest countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on gross national income per capita for 198 countries and special regions with available data from the World Bank. The World Bank estimates GNI per capita using the purchasing power parity method, and figures are in current international dollars. We listed the 22 countries with GNIs per capita of less than $2,500. Additional data, measuring GDP in current international dollars, population, and life expectancy at birth also came from the World Bank, while estimated population growth came from the CIA’s World Factbook.

All but one of the 22 poorest countries are in Africa. GNI per capita among countries on this list ranges from as low as $780 to no more than $2,410. For reference, the United States’ GNI per capita is $70,480, while the average GNI per capita worldwide is $18,511, more than 7.5 times the highest figure on the list. Conversely, this is the richest country in the world.

Life expectancy at birth in the poorest countries in the world ranges from 52.5 years – the lowest of all countries – to 66.5 years, well below the average worldwide of 71 years. Meanwhile, population growth is among the highest in the world among the poorest countries.

The countries on this list are often either recovering from a prolonged armed conflict or are still embroiled in one. This includes Afghanistan, the only non-African country, which seems to have been in one kind of armed conflict or another almost continuously since the Soviet-Afghan war of the ‘80s, including the recent 20-year U.S. and its allies invasion of the country. Here are 13 major wars happening around the world right now. 

Click here to see the poorest countries in the world.