Special Report

The 10 Least Livable Countries

6. Eritrea
> Human Development Index score: 0.381
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $1,147 (11th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 62.9 years (40th lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 4.1 years (the lowest)

Eritrea established independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after an armed conflict that lasted decades. Eritrea has been called The North Korea of Africa by some because of its repressive, autocratic, and militarized regime. The country lacks an independent media and residents can be conscripted into the military for indefinite lengths of time. As of 2013, the gross national income in Eritrea was just $1,147 per capita, among the lowest in the world. Health spending was also among the lowest in the world, at just 2.6% of GDP, and residents paid more than half of all costs out of pocket. Expenditure on education was similarly low relative to most countries, at just 2.1% of GDP.

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5. Sierra Leone
> Human Development Index score: 0.374
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $1,815 (27th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 45.6 years (the lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 7.5 years (8th lowest)

Sierra Leone was once famous for its “blood diamonds,” which were mined in the country and sold to fund weapons purchases by rebels during the nation’s civil war. Since the war ended in 2002, Sierra Leone has made strides towards political stability and economic development. However,the country remains relatively undeveloped. No country has a lower life expectancy at birth than SIerra Leone, at just 45.6 years in 2013. The maternal mortality rate, at 890 deaths per 100,000 live births, was also among the world’s worst. The infant mortality rate, at 117 deaths per 1,000 live births, was the worst in the world. Tragically, Sierra Leone has been among the countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases and more than 1,200 deaths from the disease.

4. Chad
> Human Development Index score: 0.372
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $1,622 (23rd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 51.2 years (8th lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 7.4 years (6th lowest)

Chad’s economy is heavily concentrated in oil production. However, the country’s development has been hindered by conflicts within Chad, as well as a difficult relationship with neighboring Sudan, which Chad has accused of harboring rebels. The country is among the least urbanized in the world. Just 22% of people in the country lived in an urban environment as of 2013. Chad is also projected to be the world’s youngest nations, with a median age of just 15.9 years in 2015. The life expectancy for a Chadian born last year was just over 51 years, among the lowest life expectancies in the world. And with 89 deaths per 1,000 live births, the country also had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world in 2010.