Resource distribution in the world is uneven. The imbalanced distribution of resources is one of the causes of the poor economic status of various countries across the globe. In addition to unavailable resources, nations with unstructured economic policies have suffered from minimal to no investment even with the abundance of natural resources. As such, the poorest countries in the world continuously suffer a vicious cycle of poverty. Read about those economically disadvantaged nations below.
Poverty levels may generally be assessed by looking at factors such as external debts, literacy level and unemployment rates. However, the most reliable and accurate measure of the poverty level is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP simply is a monetary measure of a country's value by assessing the worth of goods and services produced or provided at a given time, say yearly or quarterly. This is a calculation of the living standards, exchange rates, inflation rates among many other things which point on the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
Unfortunately, in the poorest countries in the world list, African nations dominate the list just as it has been in the past which can never be compared with the poorest countries in Europe. However, the GDP is slightly improving thanks to the efforts of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. They have really rolled up their sleeves in ensuring countries’ economy growth is felt and some lost glory is restored. Nonetheless, poverty levels are still attributed to historical political instability, terrorism, sluggish growth, poor governance, corruption, greed, political interference, mishandling of public resources and international community sanctions among many others.
IMF has been working tirelessly towards improving the countries’ economic performance and growth. They have solicited for some external debts to be either waived, cancelled or the interest rates are lowered. This is in a bid to relieve them of the financial burden. At the same time, local investment has been encouraged which in replica attracts foreign investment and countries are set on a good trail. The following is the ranking of the poorest countries in the world 2018.
20 poorest countries in the world
The following is the list of poorest countries in the world, some nations which suffer from the highest poverty levels characterized by illiteracy levels, high unemployment rates, slow economic growth and weak form of governance. They have been overly relying on foreign aid even to have basic needs met such as food, shelter and clothing, and the health sector, of course, is adverse. The following data is as per the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1. Central African Republic – GDP per Capita $700
Central African Republic is ranked as the world's poorest country with a relatively low GDP per capita of $700. Surprisingly, it is also one of the poor countries rich in natural resource. CAR is a major exporter of diamond but unfortunately, this has not helped much in improving the country’s economy, even as exploration is ongoing. However, this country also suffers from stringent cultural practices that have utterly hindered education which then means that the literacy levels are wanting.
In addition, Central African Republic has about 4% of its land which is arable. This then means that the agricultural production is slightly low. Factoring in illiteracy levels, there is little to no know-how on efficient farming practices to salvage the situation. This means that famine has often hit the country with children and women adversely affected. Most of the people depend on government aid which means that development is halted for their case. Moreover, Central African Republic has one of the most dysfunctional health systems which means that people receive substandard health care. The HIV epidemic has equally hit this nation and is a major cause of death. CAR is the poorest country in Africa.
2. Burundi – GDP per Capita $800
Burundi, for over a decade now, has known no peace. Communities have been rising against other communities, the disagreement escalating into a civil war and an ingrained desire for violence and revenge. This has caused the country to be economically drained as no gainful activity can be undertaken as people are either at war or fleeing from the fracas.
The ethnic conflict is traced to land settlement issues where there is no consensus as to who should inhabit where. As a result, Burundi had known the displacement of people and insecurity. In addition, Burundi has poor agricultural practices, their trade is not well developed, health and education are held for ransom, technology has not been embraced, and food is still a major issue. The collection of the mentioned factors makes Burundi one of the poorest countries worldwide.
3. Democratic Republic of Congo – GDP per Capita $800
This is a country located in Central Africa. It borders Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda to the East, the Atlantic Ocean to the West, South Sudan and the Central African Republic to the North and to the Southern part of it is Zambia and Angola. It is sometimes referred to as Zaire and is the 2nd largest country in Africa.
The Democratic Republic of Congo just had to be on the list of poorest countries in the world. Several factors contribute to high poverty levels, the chief reason being the fact that this country has a history of experiencing gruesome political instability. This has greatly drained the country’s economy with most of its people fleeing to other countries for safety. This has thwarted the development of this country as it is often rebuilt and during the uprising, all is destroyed.
Consequently, it is a hard task to have the basic needs and often, the children and their mothers turn to the government or NGOs for aid. In fact, most of the children under the age of five are relatively small in stature for their age and are often malnourished, and women are underweight. Lately, however, the political atmosphere has stabilized and about 2 million internally displaced persons have gone back to their country to rebuild it although most of the social amenities including schools, hospitals, churches and so on have been destroyed.
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4. Liberia – GDP per Capita $900
This country was never colonized but it appears it has apparently colonized itself long enough for international bodies to come to its rescue. It is a West African nation bordering Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and the Atlantic Ocean to the South. Liberia experiences a relatively cool equatorial climate and is arable. It is an exporter of rubber although it is one of the poor countries rich in natural resource with a GDP per capita of $900.
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world 2018 thanks to instability. Clearly, this is something that has caused many countries to trend downwards economically. More than 200,000 people have sadly lost their lives through the civil unrest in the country in less than 2 decades. Other than this, the country has rampant issues of corruption that have robbed the country of its resources, especially funds. According to the International Monetary Fund, about 80% of this general population – 4.4 million - earn about a dollar a day. The country's external debt is about 30% of the Gross National Income.
5. Malawi – GDP per Capital $1,200
Malawi is yet another African country that is on this list of the poorest countries in the world. Malawi has suffered from politics in trade which has made it impossible for the country to trade with other countries due to the stringent policies. This governance is a continuity from the colonial systems which is outright not relevant in the world today. It has had disastrous effects on the country majorly on education, health and in the economy. Moreover, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has robbed the nation of its energetic and productive population. This means that even cultivation and farming is hampered. The country has been heavily relying on tobacco farming whose prices fluctuate frequently. Moreover, it has no good trade networks.
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6. Niger – GDP per Capita $1,200
It is the largest country in West Africa named after the Niger River and bordering Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad and Libya. It is majorly an Islamic state currently considered as a developing country under the United Nations Human Development Index.
The economic growth in Niger has made this country ranked among the 20 most poorest countries in the world. It suffers immensely from its landlocked position, high population growth, lack of infrastructural systems, and poor health and education sectors. However, it has two major challenges: the country has been a victim of political turmoil and about 80% of Niger is the great Sahara Desert. This means the land is not arable, famine and drought are common, environment degradation, and still, no efficient agricultural practices have been implemented. Its GDP per capita stands at $1,200.
7. Mozambique – GDP per Capita $1,300
Mozambique is famous for the great Vasco da Gama discovery that led to the Portuguese colonizing the country from around 1505 until 1975 when the country gained its independence. In as much as the colonial rule was bad, at least it developed some infrastructural systems. However, shortly after gaining independence, the country broke into a civil war which led to massive destruction of the country and bloodshed. It is on record that about one million people lost their lives in the 2 decades long strife. The mentioned factors made Mozambique get to the list of the poorest countries in the world.
Besides that, Mozambique is only about 6% arable which means agriculture is not productive enough to provide food to its population sufficiently. Most people often go for long periods of hunger which erodes their health and hence, cannot operate in optimal conditions. Additionally, Mozambique has a huge external debt burden of about $5 billion. Although this country is naturally endowed with resources that could bring in wealth, it has not efficiently made use of these. It is, therefore, on the list of poor countries despite being rich in natural resources.
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8. Eritrea – GDP per Capita $1,400
Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world 2018 thanks to poor governance. This country could otherwise be making a lot of money from mining but well. The government has been oppressive and hence, failed to encourage productivity and economic growth.
What’s more, the Eritrean government has been linked to causing political instability and insecurity around the Horn of Africa which has cost it international sanctions by the UN Security Council. This has left the country on the plight of external debt and the budget deficits are credited to this. The country now struggles to rise with most of its populace being subsistence farmers in rural areas that entirely depend on rain to obtain produce. Its GDP per capita stands at $1,400 while the debt is about 30% of the GNI.
9. South Sudan – GDP per Capita $1,500
This is the youngest country in Eastern Africa. It branched itself from the sovereign nation of Sudan successfully in 2011. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the south and to the east Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. It is a landlocked country with Nilotic speakers who are majorly Christians.
This country has for long now hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons of war, violence and humanitarian crisis. Since 2010, the country has experienced instability and has known no peace; many of its citizens have sought asylum in neighboring countries. Ethnic war has been the order of the day although the United Nations has come to salvage the situation and bring back sanity in leadership and governance as the President Kiir and rebel leader Machar had been at loggerheads. With a GDP per capita of $1,500, South Sudan is among the 20 most poorest countries in the world.
10. Madagascar – GDP per Capita $1,600
Madagascar has suffered a lifelong rooting from greedy persons that can be traced back to the French Dictator, Didier Ratsiraka of the colonial rule. Since then, the country has plunged in public resources rooting on after the other. Millions of dollars which were to be used for developmental purposes and to provide humanitarian aid have been stolen. The natural resources are also on the helm of depletion with no significant management to at least bring in wealth. This makes Madagascar among the 20 poorest countries in the world.
However, it is also very difficult to invest in Madagascar as it suffers from natural disasters that cause mass destruction of property. The infrastructural system, for instance, is very poor thanks to cyclones and bad weather that utterly destroy the bridges and roads causing environmental degradation and restraining development.
11. Togo – GDP per Capita $1,600
Togo is a country in West Africa which is approximately about 57,000 square kilometers with a population of 7.6 million people. This is a nation that, by far and large, depends on agriculture as the chief economic activity and thanks to the good tropical climate, some seasons are good.
However, since time immemorial, this country has known no peace. It constantly experiences a coup after another. The coup d’état of 1967 may have been the mother of all this. In excess of the coups, the country has experienced terrorism at its heights which has destabilized the government and made the citizens flee to safety. This means that the country remains very unproductive. Nonetheless, this country is on a good trend as measures are already in place to realign the economic and fiscal situations in the country. Sadly, it is still ranked among the poor countries with natural resource – phosphate.
12. Gambia – GDP per Capita $1,700
This is yet another poor country rich in natural resources that is sluggish in economic growth thanks to the weak political systems and poor governance. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa’s mainland neighboring Senegal. It stretches to the Atlantic Ocean. The main economic activities are tourism, fishing and farming but there are no favorable trade policies to facilitate this. This has often made Gambia be marked as the poorest world country.
Besides, it has also experienced upheavals politically. The recent presidential dispute that plunged the country into was in January 2017 when Jammeh refused to concede defeat from President-elect, Adama Barrow. It was only through the intervention of ECOWAS and the military that the tension and unrest subsided. These are some of the things that have made the Gambian economy not to thrive. About 33% of its population lives in abject poverty and is illiterate and unemployed. The GDP per capita of $1,700 is significantly low for a country of its size, about 10,689 square kilometers, and a population of more than 1.8 million people.
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13. Haiti – GDP per Capita $1,800
This is a North- American country with a population of 10.8 million people with an area of 27,750 square kilometers, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean community. Natural calamities have adversely affected life in Haiti. It, from time to time, experiences earthquakes with a magnitude that goes as high as 7.0, which destroys the terrain, infrastructure, and any buildings, technically bringing the country to its knees.
Topped up with low literacy levels, a high unemployment rate, weak systems, poor health sector and questionable leadership, this country's economy has tailed in the world's ranking. Poverty levels are high and consequently, it is one of the poorest countries in the world in 2018.
14. Guinea Bissau – GDP per Capita $1,800
It is formerly a Portuguese colony which makes it a Portuguese-speaking nation. It attained independence from the colonialists in 1973. Since its independence, no elected president has been able to rule over Guinea Bissau for a consecutive full term of five years. This just goes to explain the political instability that has characterized the country.
Guinea Bissau has a long history of civil wars and great political upheavals that we read in the news. Worse still, the military is not a compact unit and is often divided in rampant fights which escalate into war and coups. It has affected the agricultural practices; even as cashew nuts are exported, not good trade systems exist to ensure maximum benefits are reaped. Guinea Bissau, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has a debt of 25% of the GNI and a GDP per capita of $1,800.
15. Sierra Leone – GDP per Capita $1,800
Sierra Leone is a hub of all natural resources of value ranging from gold, bauxite, titanium, rutile, and diamond. The mining sector is the primary economic activity although the nation does not optimally benefit from the same, thanks to political intolerance. The political system is shaped by the All People's Congress Party and the Sierra Leone People's Party. However, they have not established good governance, and their disagreements have often led to civil wars for over two decades, beginning in 1991.
During this period, the country lost its glory; its infrastructural system got destroyed, citizens were displaced, death was the order of the day, and trade thwarted, which means that the economy went into recession. However, now on its road to recovery, the country regrettably recently faced the Ebola outbreak which then again strained the Government to provide health care using external debt of about 20% is now struggling to clear. The GDP per capita is $ 1,800, which is relatively low because most people survive on less than a dollar a day. Despite all the natural deposits, Sierra Leone is still one of the 20 poorest countries in the world.
16. Afghanistan – GDP per Capita $1,900
Afghanistan has been in the limelight for war, terrorism, religious intolerance, political instability to mention but a few vices. As a result, the productivity of this country has been thwarted as people are displaced, leaving them to survive on government and international aid as they cannot favorably engage in economic activities. It is for these reasons that Afghanistan is on the list of the poorest countries in the world with about 32% of the people illiterate and more than 60% living below the international poverty line of 1.25 dollars a day.
17. Burkina Faso – GDP per Capita $ 1,900
This is a classic example of a poor country rich in natural resource. Burkina Faso is a country strategically located in West Africa that enjoys the warm equatorial climate. It is a major exporter of cotton and gold but the country is still struggling to sufficiently manage its 18 million population. One of the poverty indexes in this country points to about 40% of children that are in the labor force. This directly implies that education is not an emphasis here.
Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest country, has suffered instability in governance, economic recession of the negative outlier side, and drought. Apparently, it has a debt of about 23% of its GNI and GDP per capita of $1,900.
18. Guinea – GDP per Capita $2,000
Guinea was previously known as French West Africa. This is one country with a host of natural resources. First, it has forested tropical areas which means cool climate. Moreover, it is arable and has great deposits of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and bauxites. This should be one of the richest countries in Africa but sadly, is one of the poorest countries in the world.
The Republic of Guinea has suffered under the hands of poor governance that has completely drained the country economically. The political temperatures that have frequently led to war outbreaks have adversely affected progress, development and economic growth. Into the bargain, Guinea has over the last decade been a victim of the Ebola pandemic which has wiped out its people and forced more funds to be channelled to the health sector. Consequently, the country has borrowed to manage the Ebola crisis, leaving it with an external debt of 21% of its Gross National Income and GDP per capita of $2,000. Although this is among the world's poorest countries, it is upon its feet and the population is trying to rebuild it all over again.
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19. Rwanda – GDP per Capita $2,100
This is a landlocked country in East Africa bordering Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi and DRC to the West. A few years back, this country suffered ethnic war that shut down the country from progress and development. As a result, the economic progress was a thing of the past. However, it is currently working and reviving itself all over again. Rwanda enjoys good geographical terrain and climate and the agricultural sector may become the next gold mine for them. However, their GDP per capita of $2,100 and an external debt of 23% makes it be on the poorest countries in the world list. Nevertheless, this is a country on the right track as guided by their reviewed fiscal policy and their Vision 2020.
20. Mali – GDP per Capita $2,200
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country that lies in the middle of the Sahara Desert giving it a disadvantaged agricultural position – a poor country with the natural resource. The land is not arable although the Niger River makes the area around it arable, although it is significantly small. A vast majority of its population depends on agriculture and fishing as the primary sources of income with more than half of them living in rural areas in deplorable conditions. More than 50% are below the international poverty line.
Unfortunately, Mali has had rampant cases of rebel groups causing mayhem to the people causing displacement, instability, and apparent deaths. The Sahel, a terrorist sect, has dominated the better part of Northern Mali. As a result, Mali has slow to zero economic growth which makes the Uranium and Gold-rich country be in the poorest countries in the world list.