Special Report

Eight Countries Where the Most People Suffer

4. Haiti
> Pct. suffering: 32%
> GDP per capita: $1,229
> Pct. who view gov. as corrupt: n/a

Haiti is a frequent victim of natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes, such as the 2010 catastrophic one that devastated the small country. A cholera epidemic, now in its fourth year, has also sickened hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 8,000. Some advocates for Haiti have argued the UN is responsible for the epidemic, having failed to contain a peacekeeping-generated sewage in 2010, when the epidemic began. That year, the country’s GDP plummeted by roughly 5.4%, the largest decline of the countries surveyed by Gallup. According to Gallup’s Sonnenschein, international aid for the country is waning, and the country has not met most of its goals for recovery.

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3. Cambodia
> Pct. suffering: 34%
> GDP per capita: $2,395
> Pct viewing gov. as corrupt: 33%

Compared with the decades of war in Cambodia’s recent history, the last decade has been relatively stable. Earlier this decade, the country bolstered its garment manufacturing industry, the country also joined the WTO in 2004. It has also made progress controlling its AIDS epidemic. The country’s residents, however, are still suffering by many measures. Roughly four million residents live on less than $1.25 per day. An estimated 37% of the country’s children are malnourished. While 26% of Cambodian respondents rated their lives poorly in 2011, that number jumped to 34% last year. Further, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians have been displaced to make way for logging projects. Cambodia’s GDP improved between 2009 and 2012, but the country is still among the poorest in the world.

2. Armenia
> Pct. suffering: 37%
> GDP per capita: $5,924
> Pct. viewing gov. as corrupt: 61%

In 2012, Armenia’s the unemployment rate was 19%, one of the highest rates in the world. According to the BBC, Armenia’s unemployment and poverty are likely exacerbated by trade blockades imposed by bordering Turkey and Azerbaijan. Perhaps due to the economic upheaval of the last 10 years, there has been a mass exodus from Armenia. While the country’s population stayed fairly the same between 2009 and 2012, it is estimated that Armenia has lost nearly a quarter of its population since the Soviet Union’s collapse and Armenia’s declared independence. According to Sonnenschein, a recent survey asked former Soviet countries whether they viewed the collapse of the U.S.S.R. as a good or bad thing. More Armenians viewed it as a negative than any other country.

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1. Bulgaria
> Pct. suffering: 39%
> GDP per capita: $14,102
> Pct. who view gov. as corrupt: 55%

While Bulgaria has improved slightly since the 2011 Gallup survey, still a whopping 39% of surveyed Bulgarians said they were suffering last year, the worst of any country. Over a longer period — between 2009 and 2012 — the unemployment rate in Bulgaria increased from 6.8% to more than 12%. More than three-quarters of Bulgarians said political parties in their country were corrupt, and more than 70% said parliament was corrupt, both among the most in the world. Political protests — which have included self-immolations and overthrown governments — are common in the country. Bulgaria is one of the least affluent countries in the European Union, which it joined only after concerns over corruption and organized crime were raised. According to Gallup’s Sonnenschein, “Bulgaria had very high hopes when [it] joined the European Union in 2007, but not many of these hopes have materialized.”

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