Special Report

25 Poorest Countries in the World

Source: Thinkstock

10. Guinea
> GNI per capita: $490
> 2016 GDP: $6.3 billion
> Population: 12.4 million
> Life expectancy: 59.4 years at birth

For a variety of economic and political reasons, resource-rich countries often rank among the poorest in the world. Guinea is one such country. Aluminum ore comprised 30% of the country’s $2.5 billion in exports in 2015, and gold accounted for 38%. Overly dependent on its resources, agriculture accounts for over one-fifth of the country’s GDP. Stronger educational systems would likely help spur economic growth as less than a third of Guineas age 15 and older are literate.

As the country struggles to adequately care for its own citizens, its economy is being strained by hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Source: Mozambique

9. Mozambique
> GNI per capita: $480
> 2016 GDP: $11.0 billion
> Population: 28.8 million
> Life expectancy: 57.6 years at birth

Mozambique has faced a variety of issues since gaining its independence from Portugal in 1975. Political tension, the effects of a 16-year civil war, and corruption weigh on the country’s economy. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Competitiveness Report, corruption is the second most problematic factor for doing business in Mozambique, behind access to financing. As a result of the country’ economic struggles, over 24% of its workforce is unemployed.

The country’s economic future may be looking up as Mozambique discovered gas fields off its coastline in 2011. Today, energy sources, including petroleum, account for nearly a third of the country’s $6.1 billion in annual exports.

Source: HomoCosmicos / iStock

8. The Gambia
> GNI per capita: $440
> 2016 GDP: $1.0 billion
> Population: 2.0 million
> Life expectancy: 61.0 years at birth

Emerging from 22 years of authoritarian rule under president Yahya Jammeh in 2016, The Gambia is grappling with widespread economic strife. Despite newly found political freedom, many of the country’s residents are among the poorest people in the world. The average resident lives on only about $440 a year.

Economic prosperity is hindered considerably by corruption, and at nearly 30%, unemployment is higher in The Gambia than in every other country on this list. Heavily dependent on agriculture and natural resources, The Gambia’s export market is dominated by two industries: the sale of rough wood at 43% of total exports and nuts at 34%.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Democratic Republic of Congo
> GNI per capita: $420
> 2016 GDP: $35.0 billion
> Population: 78.7 million
> Life expectancy: 59.2 years at birth

Home to nearly 79 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo is among the most populous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Its $35 billion economy is also nearly the largest among countries on this list. However, adjusting for the population, the DRC is nearly the poorest country in the world.

Like many of the world’s poorest countries, DRC is resource rich and heavily dependent on farming. The country’s rich soil and abundant deposits of uranium, cobalt, gold, and diamonds have lead to civil wars that have claimed millions of lives. Agriculture accounts for over 20% of the country’s total economic output.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Madagascar
> GNI per capita: $400
> 2016 GDP: $10.0 billion
> Population: 24.9 million
> Life expectancy: 65.5 years at birth

Known for its distinct wildlife not found anywhere else in the world, Madagascar is a tourist hub that is also one of the poorest countries in the world. The country is gradually shifting from its agricultural economy, with farming contribution to economic output dropping from 28.4% to 24.4% of total GDP in the last five years. Madagascar has a relatively low unemployment rate of 2.3% compared to the global average of 5.8%. The country’s two primary exports are vanilla and raw nickel, accounting for 19% and 18% of total exports, respectively.

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