Population and Social Characteristics

The 30 Youngest Countries On Earth

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Rising living standards and advances in medicine have resulted in meaningful improvements in life expectancy in recent decades. According to the World Bank, average life expectancy at birth is 71.3 years globally, up from about 51 years in 1960. Over the same period, birth rates worldwide have fallen precipitously. These changes have led to a rapidly aging global population.

Between 1980 and 2022, the median age in the U.S. rose from 30 to record-high of nearly 39, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over roughly the same period, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. climbed from 73.6 to 76.3. Meanwhile, fertility rates in the U.S. dropped from an average of over 1.8 births per woman over a lifetime to fewer than 1.7 births, according to the World Bank.

While recent demographic changes in the U.S. are broadly representative of global trends, there are exceptions. In some parts of the world, populations are far younger than typical, including more than two dozen countries where most residents are not even 21 years old.

Using the latest available data from the CIA World Factbook, 24/7 Wall St. identified the youngest countries on Earth. We reviewed the median age in 193 countries and ranked the 30 with the youngest populations. All supplemental data is from the World Bank and is also for the most recent available year.

Among the countries on this list, the age of a typical resident ranges from 20.8 down to just 15.2. With only one exception, each of these countries are in Africa — and all are relatively poor places. In the wealthiest country on this list, per capita gross domestic product is only $3,000, and in most, GDP per capita is less than $1,000. For context, GDP per capita is $12,688 globally and $76,330 in the United States. (Here is a look at the poorest countries in the world.)

In many countries on this list, economic development is not the most pressing challenge. More than dozen of these countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan are also currently embroiled in armed conflict. With lower living standards — and, in many cases widespread violence — life expectancy is below average in every country on this list. In 12 of these places, average life expectancy at birth is less than 60 years. (Here is a look at the countries currently at war.)

In addition to low life expectancies, young populations in these places are also attributable to high birth rates. For a country to maintain a steady population size — immigration notwithstanding — the average fertility rate should stand at around 2.1 children per woman. In every country on this list, fertility rates are well above that threshold.

Why It Matters

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Many of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world have been reporting falling birth rates for decades. Now, global population growth is being driven largely by some of the poorest countries in the world — often places that are suffering through armed conflict. With high birthrates and low life expectancies resulting from violence and lower standards of living, there are many countries where most of the population are 20 years old or younger.

30. Rwanda

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  • Median age in 2024: 20.8 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 66 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 3.8 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 66.1 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +24.1% (+2,675,348 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 13,776,698
  • GDP in 2022: $13.3 billion ($966 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

29. Togo

Source: peeterv / E+ via Getty Images
  • Median age in 2024: 20.7 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 70 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.3 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 61.6 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +24.5% (+1,742,470 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 8,848,699
  • GDP in 2022: $8.3 billion ($943 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

28. Republic of the Congo

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  • Median age in 2024: 20.7 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 73 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.2 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 63.5 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +23.7% (+1,142,358 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 5,970,424
  • GDP in 2022: $15.8 billion ($2,649 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

27. Central African Republic

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  • Median age in 2024: 20.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 98 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.0 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 53.9 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +16.2% (+776,716 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 5,579,144
  • GDP in 2022: $2.4 billion ($427 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

26. Ethiopia

  • Median age in 2024: 20.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 69 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.2 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 65.0 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +27.1% (+26,295,558 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 123,379,924
  • GDP in 2022: $126.8 billion ($1,028 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

25. Malawi

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  • Median age in 2024: 20.3 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 78 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 3.9 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 62.9 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +27.3% (+4,380,542 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 20,405,317
  • GDP in 2022: $13.2 billion ($645 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

24. The Gambia

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  • Median age in 2024: 20.2 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 79 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.7 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 62.1 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +27.3% (+581,123 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 2,705,992
  • GDP in 2022: $2.2 billion ($808 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

23. Afghanistan

  • Median age in 2024: 20.0 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 79 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.6 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 62.0 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +30.4% (+9,587,562 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 41,128,771
  • GDP in 2021: $14.3 billion ($356 per capita)
  • Region: South Asia

22. Liberia

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median age in 2024: 19.9 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 72 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.1 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 60.7 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +19.8% (+875,368 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 5,302,681
  • GDP in 2022: $4.0 billion ($755 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

21. Guinea

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  • Median age in 2024: 19.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 75 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.4 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 58.9 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +25.4% (+2,803,911 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 13,859,341
  • GDP in 2022: $21.0 billion ($1,515 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

20. Sierra Leone

  • Median age in 2024: 19.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 67 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.0 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 60.1 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +23.6% (+1,640,859 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 8,605,718
  • GDP in 2022: $4.1 billion ($476 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

19. Nigeria

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  • Median age in 2024: 19.3 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 80 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 5.2 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 52.7 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +25.1% (+43,815,089 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 218,541,212
  • GDP in 2022: $472.6 billion ($2,163 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

18. Sudan

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  • Median age in 2024: 19.3 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 74 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.5 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 65.3 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +30.2% (+10,883,500 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 46,874,204
  • GDP in 2022: $51.7 billion ($1,102 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

17. Senegal

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  • Median age in 2024: 19.2 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 75 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.4 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 67.1 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +27.4% (+3,720,883 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 17,316,449
  • GDP in 2022: $27.7 billion ($1,599 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

16. Tanzania

  • Median age in 2024: 19.1 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 81 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.7 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 66.2 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +33.0% (+16,244,105 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 65,497,748
  • GDP in 2022: $75.7 billion ($1,193 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

15. Somalia

Source: Vidas Pocius / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median age in 2024: 19.1 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 94 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.3 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 55.3 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +36.9% (+4,745,026 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 17,597,511
  • GDP in 2022: $10.4 billion ($592 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

14. Cameroon

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  • Median age in 2024: 18.9 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 77 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.5 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 60.3 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +29.0% (+6,281,686 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 27,914,536
  • GDP in 2022: $43.6 billion ($1,563 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

13. South Sudan

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  • Median age in 2024: 18.7 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 82 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.5 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 55.0 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -1.7% (-192,867 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 10,913,164
  • GDP: N/A
  • Region: Africa

12. Burkina Faso

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  • Median age in 2024: 18.7 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 81 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.8 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 59.3 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +28.6% (+5,037,354 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 22,673,762
  • GDP in 2022: $18.8 billion ($830 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

11. Zambia

  • Median age in 2024: 18.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 77 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.3 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 61.2 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +31.4% (+4,782,699 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 20,017,675
  • GDP in 2022: $29.2 billion ($1,457 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

10. Burundi

  • Median age in 2024: 18.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 89 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 5.1 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 61.7 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +27.0% (+2,739,999 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 12,889,576
  • GDP in 2022: $3.3 billion ($259 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

9. Guinea-Bissau

Source: Tiago_Fernandez / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Median age in 2024: 18.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 70 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.0 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 59.7 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +24.0% (+407,813 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 2,105,566
  • GDP in 2022: $1.6 billion ($776 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

8. Mozambique

  • Median age in 2024: 17.3 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 81 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.6 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 59.3 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +30.6% (+7,717,787 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 32,969,518
  • GDP in 2022: $18.4 billion ($558 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

7. Benin

  • Median age in 2024: 17.2 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 78 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 5.0 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 59.8 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +29.5% (+3,044,134 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 13,352,864
  • GDP in 2022: $17.4 billion ($1,303 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

6. Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Median age in 2024: 16.9 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 92 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.2 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 59.2 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +34.8% (+25,550,191 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 99,010,212
  • GDP in 2022: $64.7 billion ($654 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

5. Chad

Source: guenterguni / E+ via Getty Images
  • Median age in 2024: 16.7 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 94 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.3 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 52.5 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +34.1% (+4,506,549 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 17,723,315
  • GDP in 2022: $12.7 billion ($717 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

4. Mali

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  • Median age in 2024: 16.4 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 94 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.0 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 58.9 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +32.9% (+5,589,557 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 22,593,590
  • GDP in 2022: $18.8 billion ($833 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

3. Angola

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  • Median age in 2024: 16.3 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 86 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 5.3 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 61.6 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +36.1% (+9,441,985 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 35,588,987
  • GDP in 2022: $106.8 billion ($3,000 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

2. Uganda

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  • Median age in 2024: 16.2 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 84 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 4.6 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 62.7 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +34.0% (+11,976,015 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 47,249,585
  • GDP in 2022: $45.6 billion ($964 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

1. Niger

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  • Median age in 2024: 15.2 years
  • Child dependency ratio: 100 people under age 15 per 100 working age people
  • Fertility rate in 2021: Avg. of 6.8 children per woman over lifetime
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 61.6 years
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +40.5% (+7,554,778 people)
  • Total population in 2022: 26,207,977
  • GDP in 2022: $15.3 billion ($585 per capita)
  • Region: Africa

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