Special Report

The 10 Least Livable Countries

3. Central African Republic
> Human Development Index score: 0.341
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $588 (2nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 50.2 years (5th lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 7.2 years (4th lowest)

The Central African Republic has been in the midst of a severe crisis in recent years. Last year, armed rebels seized the capital and took over the government of the country. Unrest has continued since then. According to the African Development Bank, “Every state and public institution has been affected by the crisis and the State has effectively collapsed.” The U.S. State Department currently warns all Americans against travelling to Central African Republic and notes that violence in the country is widespread. Unlike the many African countries that have made substantial progress in improving their Human Development Index scores, the Central African Republic has not. Few countries have a lower life expectancy or higher rates of infant and child mortality than Central African Republic. The country also spends very little on health care, and it had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, at 890 deaths per 100,000 live births, in 2010.

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2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
> Human Development Index score: 0.338
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $444 (the lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 50.0 years (4th lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 9.7 years (31st lowest)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo had the world’s lowest gross national income per capita, at just $444 last year. Additionally, more than 87% of the population lived on less than $1.25 a day, the highest rate in the world. Like a number of other least-developed nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had extremely high infant and child mortality rates. As of 2012, the infant mortality rate was 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, the second worst in the world. The country is also by far the largest among the world’s least livable, with a population of 67.5 million as of last year. The country was the site of one of the most brutal conflicts in recent world history from 1998 through 2003, and violent conflicts have continued to flare up since then.

1. Niger
> Human Development Index score: 0.337
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $873 (6th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 58.4 years (24th lowest)
> Expected years of schooling: 5.4 years (2nd lowest)

No country scored lower on the Human Development Index than Niger. A student entering school in 2012 could only be expected to study for 5.4 years on average, less than any country except Eritrea. Also, nearly 43% of those between the ages of five to 14 worked, one of the highest rates in the world. Slavery, although criminalized, remains a problem in the country. Niger also had the highest adolescent birth rate in the world, with nearly 205 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2010. Further, less than a third of people 15 and older were literate. According to the World Bank, Niger suffers from chronic food insecurity due to “political instability and natural crises – notably droughts, floods and locust infestation.”