Special Report

Most Miserable Countries in the World

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15. Angola
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 37.4%
> Residents who say they have social support: 76.5%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 83.4%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 52.5 years

Though the Republic of Angola produces diamonds, oil, gold, and copper, the country is in the midst of an economic crisis. Declining oil prices since 2014 have deeply affected Angola’s economy. The country needs to reduce its dependence on oil, which represents one-third of its GDP and more than 95% of its exports. Large swaths of the population still live in poverty without adequate access to basic services.

Source: Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr

14. Madagascar
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 56.0%
> Residents who say they have social support: 67.6%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 85.7%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 56.6 years

Controversial electoral reforms are at the center of a political crisis engulfing Madagascar. A rash of violent protests erupted in the spring because of the belief that opposition party candidates would be prevented from participating in the elections this year. It’s not surprising that more than 85% of those polled believe governmental corruption is widespread. There are demands for President Hery Rajaonarimampianina to step down.

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13. Zimbabwe
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 71.6%
> Residents who say they have social support: 75.3%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 76.4%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 51.8 years

Zimbabwe’s current economic downturn, fueled by hyperinflation, is nothing new to the southern African country. This is one of the main reasons citizens protested for over a year to have Robert Mugabe removed from office. Mugabe, who held power since 1980, was placed under house arrest in 2017 in a coup d’état. He resigned in late November that same year, just before his impeachment was complete.

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12. Afghanistan
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 44.5%
> Residents who say they have social support: 52.5%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 88.0%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 52.0 years

Since the Taliban was ousted in 2001, Afghanistan has experienced a great deal of turbulence. It remains as one of the poorest nations in the world, largely because of corruption and a lack of foreign investment. The insurgency by the Taliban remains an ongoing concern for the country. As a result of the present war, 90,000 people have been killed since 2001.

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11. Botswana
> Residents who say they have freedom to make life’s choices: 84.3%
> Residents who say they have social support: 78.5%
> Residents who believe corruption is widespread in their government: 77.6%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 57.1 years

Despite having one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Botswana usually finds itself on the list of unhappiest countries. Some if its own people question this paradox, and points raised to explain it are far from pretty. High suicide rates among the young and the high rate of murder of women are among some of the many explanations. Botswana’s income inequality is among the widest in the world as the economy has struggled to generate private-sector jobs.