Special Report

25 Poorest Countries in the World

Source: Hakat / iStock

20. Nepal
> GNI per capita: $730
> 2016 GDP: $21.1 billion
> Population: 29.0 million
> Life expectancy: 69.9 years at birth

A landlocked country in between India and China, Nepal has been recovering from a decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006. This led the country to transition from a monarchy to a democracy at the cost of 17,000 lives during the 10 years of fighting.

Though the country’s new found stability has helped the economy, Nepal still faces challenges. The country’s GDP grew by only 0.6% in 2016, well below global economic growth of 2.4%. Heavily dependent on farming, agriculture accounts for 33.0% of the country’s GDP. Today, the average Nepalese citizen lives off of about $730 a year.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Chad
> GNI per capita: $720
> 2016 GDP: $9.6 billion
> Population: 14.5 million
> Life expectancy: 52.6 years at birth

Due to a range of economic and political factors, the citizens of countries rich with oil, minerals, and other resources are often among the poorest people in the world. Chad is no exception. The country’s economy is heavily dependent on its gold, uranium, and oil deposits and is anything but diversified. About half of the country’s economic output comes from agriculture, and crude oil represents 93% of its exports.

Like many of the world’s poorest countries, many in Chad suffer from poor health. Life expectancy at birth in the landlocked African nation is only 52.6 years.

Source: Sloot / iStock

18. Rwanda
> GNI per capita: $700
> 2016 GDP: $8.4 billion
> Population: 11.9 million
> Life expectancy: 66.6 years at birth

In the mid-1990s, the landlocked country of eastern-central Africa experienced one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history when an estimated 800,000 people had been killed in 100 days of state-funded genocide. Since then, the government has made a turnaround, with 16.6% of government spending going into education. Additionally, Rwanda’s government and institutions are the least corrupt of the countries on this list, according to Transparency International. Some 31.5% of Rwanda’s 2016 GDP comes from agriculture, which helped boost GDP by nearly 6% in 2016. Refined petroleum and tea are the country’s top exports, representing 17% and 12% of total exports, respectively.

Source: imagexphoto / iStock

17. Uganda
> GNI per capita: $660
> 2016 GDP: $25.5 billion
> Population: 41.5 million
> Life expectancy: 59.5 years at birth

Though conditions have improved dramatically since Idi Amin was forced from power in 1979, according to Transparency International, Uganda is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Bribable public officials, untrustworthy institutions, and misappropriated public funds all hinder economic development in the landlocked African nation.

Despite widespread corruption, GDP growth is relatively rapid in Uganda. The country’s 4.6% economic growth in 2016 was faster than the 2.4% global economic growth the same year. Still, the average annual income of a Ugandan is only $660, nearly $10,000 less than the global average.

Source: Thinkstock

16. Ethiopia
> GNI per capita: $660
> 2016 GDP: $72.4 billion
> Population: 102.4 million
> Life expectancy: 65.0 years at birth

Like many of the world’s poorest countries, Ethiopia’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. Over a third of the east African nation’s $72.4 billion GDP is generated through farming. An over reliance on agriculture is especially problematic in Ethiopia as the country frequently faces droughts that result in famine.

Despite low incomes, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies. The country’s GDP expanded by 7.6% in 2016, more than triple the global economic growth rate.

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