Special Report

Most Miserable Countries in the World

Source: MONUSCO/Myriam Asmani / Wikimedia Commons

25. Congo (Kinshasa)
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 63.7%
> Residents who say they have social support: 77.0%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 85.0%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 50.4 years

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been involved in a humanitarian crisis stemming from a prolonged conflict, with at least 13 million people in need of assistance. The UN said in March that 7.7 million people face “food insecurity.” The country’s president, Joseph Kabila, refuses to leave, though his time in office ended in 2016. The people continued to protest even as the militia retaliated, killing civilians. The delays continue — and so does the unrest.

Source: rmnunes / iStock

24. India
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 82.8%
> Residents who say they have social support: 61.1%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 77.5%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 59.3 years

India’s economy is growing at a 7.3% pace, according to the World Bank, making it the world’s fastest-growing economy. Even so, there is a general lack of trust in India and that is contributing to unhappiness in the world’s second-most populous country. As for personal freedoms, Indians complain that there is little freedom for minorities, either religious or sexual, in making their life choices. At least everyone has the right to vote.

Source: Jean Rebiffé / Flickr

23. Niger
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 70.2%
> Residents who say they have social support: 66.0%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 76.4%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 50.9 years

Niger consistently performs poorly in UN rankings. Violent extremism is rising in this landlocked country in western Africa that is ravaged periodic droughts. Though its government demonstrates a willingness to work with the United States as a counter-terrorism partner, Niger is vulnerable to the threat of violent extremist activity. It also has endured longer periods of local conflicts over pastureland and cattle.

Source: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr

22. Uganda
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 75.2%
> Residents who say they have social support: 75.1%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 83.5%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 51.5 years

Uganda is widely recognized as having severe corruption problems in rankings from Transparency International and the World Bank. In the UN survey, more than 80% of those polled believe corruption is widespread in their government. Ugandans also are getting slapped with a daily tax on social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook, effective July 1. Can you say “reining in free speech?”

Source: Photo RNW.org / Flickr

21. Benin
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 74.4%
> Residents who say they have social support: 45.8%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 82.3%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 51.6 years

West Africa’s Benin is a tropical country that depends a great deal on agriculture for its survival. Unfortunately, the country is struggling with rampant smuggling activities of different products, including rice, which is straining relationships with neighboring countries. In addition to these problems, most of Benin residents believe they lack any social support — which is likely contributing largely to their unhappy state.