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Mapped: The 25 Poorest Countries in the World

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poorest countries by GDP per capita

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The Briefing

  • The poorest country in the world is Burundi with a GDP per capita of $264
  • Nearly all of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa, though Haiti, Tajikistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan are notable exceptions

Mapped: The 25 Poorest Countries in the World

Having looked at the richest countries in the world, which nations are at the bottom of the list in terms of GDP per capita, in nominal terms?

This map looks at the world’s 25 poorest countries by this metric.

Country GDP per capita (USD)
🇧🇮 Burundi$263.67
🇸🇸 South Sudan$303.15
🇲🇼 Malawi$399.10
🇲🇿 Mozambique$455.01
🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)$456.89
🇨🇫 Central African Republic$480.50
🇦🇫 Afghanistan$499.44
🇲🇬 Madagascar$514.85
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone$518.47
🇳🇪 Niger$535.83
🇪🇷 Eritrea$585.16
🇹🇩 Chad$639.85
🇾🇪 Yemen$645.13
🇱🇷 Liberia$653.60
🇹🇬 Togo$690.28
🇭🇹 Haiti$732.07
🇸🇩 Sudan$734.60
🇬🇲 The Gambia$746.33
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau$766.75
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso$768.83
🇷🇼 Rwanda$823.40
🇹🇯 Tajikistan$833.55
🇲🇱 Mali$899.22
🇺🇬 Uganda$915.35
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe$921.85

All but four of these countries are located on the African continent.

Additionally, all of the 25 poorest countries, with the exception of Zimbabwe and Tajikistan, are considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by the UN. LDCs are categorized by criteria based on per capita income, human assets (such as education level), and economic vulnerability. Today, more than 75% of the population in LDCs live below the poverty line.

For added perspective, the average GDP per capita of all developing economies and emerging markets globally is $5,172.

Emerging Markets

Developing countries, while having much smaller economies, have one thing that the richest countries don’t have: immense room for economic growth.

Most of the poorest countries’ strongest industries are agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and so on, and the world is heavily reliant on the flow of raw materials and resources coming from developing nations.

Focusing on the African countries listed, the economic potential is significant. Africa’s infrastructure is currently improving at a rapid rate, opening the door for foreign direct investment and increased capacity for industrialization. In large part, this progress is thanks to China’s Belt and Road initiative and investment in multiple African countries.

Another signal of Africa’s potential is the extremely large share of young people on the continent. Here’s a look at the five countries in the world with the highest shares of their population aged younger than 15, all of which are in Africa:

  • 🇳🇪 Niger: 49.8%
  • 🇲🇱 Mali: 47.3%
  • 🇹🇩 Chad: 46.8%
  • 🇦🇴 Angola: 46.6%
  • 🇺🇬 Uganda: 46.5%

In Niger, an astounding near half of the population is under the age of 15 years old. This could translate into a large future workforce, a growing domestic market, and potential for innovation and economic progress.

Overall, while today the poorest countries still have extremely low standards of living, the economic potential is there for future growth.

Where does this data come from?

Source: IMF
Details: GDP per capita is measured in $USD, 2020.

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